How the NSA Steals Your Liberty

TAO

National Security Agency Complex in San Antonio, Texas

Der Spiegel called it again and I’d never thought I’d thank the Germans for anything but the German press has done a better job of protecting the US citizens’ liberty and privacy than anyone in our own sorry press or government. ¬†Anyway, here are two links, the first to the Der Spiegel article on how the NSA both steals your privacy and builds inherent flaws into your digital security so they can exploit your resources for whatever they want and also leave you vulnerable to attack. ¬†The second link is to a talk by Jacob Appelbaum about why you should be very scared by this.

Der Spiegel Article

Jacob Appelbaum Presentation

Oh and you suckers that still use Yahoo, you deserve everything you get.

NSA

Pointless

pointless

Well here’s todays installment of me foaming at the mouth. As you can plainly see it’s called Pointless, and if you haven’t already figured out that it’s going to be a waste of your time then you’re on the wrong side of the mean.

pointless

Pointless

Anyway, here we go. Where to start? A bunch of years ago (you already know I’m not looking it up!) a scientist/anthropologist sort of Viking guy name Thor Heyerdahl built this raft using prehistoric methods and materials. He launched it into the Pacific Ocean. Eventually he landed using only primitive means and supplies on a Polynesian island. So, you’re gonna say this was pointless, oh no effendi, this had a very good reason. Let’s just make one thing clear, this scientist was the first person in the historic era to do anything like this and he wrote about it. This is very important so quit nodding off. Why? He was trying to see if prehistoric man could have populated all of Polynesia; if they had all the means and knowhow to achieve this. This was important because a lot of scientists were skeptical and there were conflicting theories about how Polynesia could have been populated. Heyerdahl proved that some guys in prehistoric times would have all they needed to push off from the continents to eventually find and populate all the islands. It didn’t prove that this is what happened but it proved all the guys wrong that said it couldn’t have happened this way. It also showed just how early or late Polynesia could have been settled. This is how science proceeds you waterheads.

Kon-Tiki

Hero – Scientist

Now somewhere along the line another guy got the idea to do the same thing as Heyerdahl, exactly the same way. This is the most important thing I’m going to tell you so write it down, this guy’s escapade was pointless. Why? Heyerdahl had already done it. There was nothing further to be proved by a second trip. Even if this second guy died trying, it proved nothing since Heyerdahl had already proved it could be done. Nobody really cared that you could die doing it. Everyone already knew this. There were probably a lot of prehistoric guys who sailed off and died trying. So why did this second modern guy do this silly thing. Was he really stupid? Was he crazy? Probably not, after all even doing a lousy job would require a lot of planning and intelligence. Hmmmm. You wanna know why he did it? Because he’s an egotistical and selfish bastard, a piece of human scum, that’s why.

Hold on a minute you say, here’s a brave and intelligent fellow. He’s taking on this dangerous quest all alone with no modern contrivances. No he’s a selfish ego-driven idiot and a bane on humankind; someone never to be held up as a role model. I’m going to prove this to you so pay attention. Why? Because he does this out of his own selfish reasons, to prove some pointless fact about his courage and brilliance, plus he probably counts on us to risk our lives to bail him out if things go awry. He’s nothing but a spendthrift thrill seeker hoping you’ll be a big enough sucker to support him/her and say “well done” and have a parade when he/she maybe comes back. He’s a dumb ass swindler. A flim-flam man.

robert-falcon-scott

Heroes – Explorers

Here’s another thing I heard that’s a little different but equally pointless. In the early part of the 20th century a lot of folks were trying to be the first to the South Pole in Antarctica. This has at least some little merit from a scientific standpoint but it was basically another attempt to explore a place NOBODY had gone to before. There were two groups that went to the Pole, a British team and a Norwegian guy. Well the Norwegian guy got there first because he had a better plan and somewhat better luck. The British guys all died coming back, so the fact that they reached the Pole second almost doesn’t count because you’ve got to get back to tell about it to say it’s successful.

dumbass1

Dumb Ass

Now fast forward to modern times. People go to the South Pole all the time. People even live there in a sort of moon-base setup now. But here come some dumb-asses that want to go to the South Pole just like the British team did in 1911 (circa), man-hauling sledges, to “prove” that it could be done. What? First we already know it could be done. It was done by a Norwegian guy with a dogsled. It is also pretty certain that with a little better luck and maybe planning the British team would have gotten back as well. In addition, this is not like Heyerdahl’s experiment because we already know how people got to the South Pole, it’s no mystery. On top of this there are all sorts of less dangerous ways to get to the South Pole. You should use these before you resort to early 20th century technology and depend on us to save your ass in case of trouble. This newest expedition is pointless and a waste of time and money, no reason for accolades; an egotistical display of wasted time, money, and effort. An expensive and foolish hobby. And unnecessarily dangerous and risky.

hillary

Hero – Explorer

We see this all the time: somebody we know summits Mt. Everest, they’re somehow a better or deeper souled person than we are. No they’re as selfish as the guy down the street who spent $50,000 on a car. We already know somebody can get to the top of Mt. Everest, hundreds of people have done it. Planes fly higher. Real brave explorers have even walked on the moon, think about that. Now here is something to crow about: being launched in a tin can 250,000 airless miles with a pocket calculator for guidance and actually getting there and all the way back in one piece with rocks to prove you were there (uh, oh here come the loonies talking about the back-lot in New Mexico again). We actually learned a lot of stuff in the process unlike the guy who summits Everest without oxygen. Big deal!

everest-storm

More Dumb Asses

The last part is these fools put other people’s lives at risk with their egotistical and foolish behavior. How many times do we hear about the Coast Guard trying to pluck some retard out of a boat in a hurricane when they were trying to sail around the world alone? I say let the dumb asses drown. Why put a CG helicopter crew at risk for some dummy that doesn’t have the sense to crew his sailboat or come in out of the storm. This person put themselves intentionally in peril and we’re supposed to die to save them. I don’t think so! It’s like tying yourself to a potential suicide standing on a building ledge 30 stories up, a real bad idea. We’re supposed to come rescue these idiots when they express their ego-driven Darwinian behavior? It’s fake heroics. Heroics without purpose is just a waste of everything.

nantucket_boat

Another Dumb Ass

What I’m trying to say is all these stunters that are always trying to get support for their “expeditions” are nothing but leeches. Their time, money, and effort could be channeled into something useful. The problem is they get no accolades for their courage for building and staffing a soup kitchen. What kind of lousy accomplishment is that? There are all sorts of people everyday that are doing brave things with a point that don’t have this incredible ego thing going on and wasting our oxygen. Think about a fireman going into a burning building for a child, a regular cop who never knows if the next drunk isn’t going to go berserk at a traffic stop, an ambulance driver in Afghanistan, Mother Teresa helping infectious lepers. There are tons of deserving and heroic people making a difference in life, science, spirituality, etc. that really put it on the line and for a real reason, not pointlessness.

So be careful when you hold these “models” up your children or others. They aren’t role models. They are egotistical selfish people displaying dangerous behaviors. Is that who you want your kids to look up to and emulate?

fireman

A Real Hero

So I’m never going to jump out of an airplane and rely on a bed sheet to keep me from hitting the ground unless the plane is going to crash because then it’s the less risky, less foolish, less pointless option. And if I make it I don’t expect anybody to be patting me on the back for how brave I was in saving my own sorry ass.

I Told Ya So…

Just a quickie here. “Ethics” was kind of a special edition because of some muckraking and yellow journalism that just couldn’t wait. I’ve gone over this post four or five times and every fact is dead true. There isn’t a lie or exaggeration in it. Pretty good for one of my posts, huh?

Well I’m feeling pretty good today. Why? For one the Dunbar thing went down just as I predicted. “Willy” is the “monthly read” from now ’til August something in Literary Darkness on GR (lends a new meaning to darkness). So I’m only one for one you say. Oh no effendi, I’m batting two for two today. Go back and look at “Suckers” from a week or so ago, then look at the DJIA today, then look at your 401K. Was it chicken day at your house? The farmer didn’t bring any chicken feed today did he? And your investments are also going to look like chicken feed if you don’t do something about it real soon. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. BTW I bailed out last Friday. I’m feeling like the cat that ate the canary.

Suckers

We’re all suckers. Everyone of us; marks, dupes, half-wits, morons, dumb-asses, you name it. Why, because the universe doesn’t actually work the way we think it does nor the way everyone told us, even in academia, it does. The real why is outliers; unpredictable and profound ways the future does not resemble the past. And sometimes you cannot avoid it. That’s why we’re all suckers.

Take the chicken for example. For 1,000 days the farmer brings it food; every day food, and even more food each day as it grows bigger. The chicken likes the farmer, he even tries to get at the front of the line when he comes out to feed the other chickens because then you get even more chicken feed. Then on day 1,001 the farmer comes out and chops off his head. The chicken is a sucker, a mark, a fool. Why? Obvious right. In hind sight, even though the farmer never came out with a cleaver to cut anyone else’s head off in the past 1,000 days, he shoulda known this could happen. Right. We’re that smart. Suckers.

In fact the chicken should have been trying to escape from the coop those 1,000 days instead of being at the front of the line so he could be the first sucker, every minute of those 1,000 days, escape, at least when he was fat and happy he should have been trying to get out of that coop and get away. He shoulda seen it comin’ just like we would have. Right? Serves him right, the sucker.

We would have known better. We would have taken a lesson from the past and applied it to life today and avoided being the sucker. Right. Suckers.

I’ll give one example: the real estate bubble that popped in 2008 and took the world economy into “The Great Recession.” Everyone lost their retirement savings, pension fund savings were depleted, even world governments (Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain) went into the dumper. In hindsight we shoulda, woulda, coulda, avoided this. We shoulda known everyone wasn’t going to live in Las Vegas or Dublin eventually. We shoulda known those nebulous mortgage backed securities were potentially pretty shaky. Right. Suckers.

In fact, we had an advantage over the chicken, we actually had prior knowledge that this could happen. Remember the Internet bubble in 2000? Everyone’s gonna want to buy their dog food on-line eventually. Right. Look up “Tulip Mania” for an example a long, long time ago. Go ahead, Google it, this’ll still be here when you’re done. Alright, everyone (no one) back? Suckers.

Outliers, I finally get to my point. History, economics, politics, even science, just about everything is ultimately mainly because of the outlier (head chopping day), not the average (feeding day). Most of our hindsight is worthless. Those nice rising graphs about Pets.com stock. Worthless, all stocks tend to rise in a rising market. Tomorrow is going to be just like yesterday. The graphs tell us so. Financial advisors tell us so, politicians tell us so, historians tell us so, and even some scientists (THEY should know better) tell us so. When they make their graphs they omit the outlier, (That was just one day. Look at the trend, that can’t happen again, it’s too far out of the norm. Something was wrong that day. And the real kicker: The numbers don’t support it!) we can safely ignore it. If anyone says any of these things to you, get as far away as possible from them. They’re suckers and they want to make you one. Blood sucking vampires and werewolves that will change you into one of them overnight. A sucker.

History is the facts conveniently packaged where the historian decides in hindsight what to include and what to ignore (If you don’t believe read the basis for the criticism of most history papers) and combines them into a linear narrative and almost always they will ignore the outlier when predicting the future from that past history. Life isn’t linear, it’s real bumpy and dominated by the outlier. Numbers that work in the idealized realms of science (sometimes, be careful) and mathematics don’t work in the squishier realms of the real world. Suckers.

z

Why is this relevant now? Simple: The Dow Jones Industrial Average, DJIA. Look at the graphs and then throw them away. Don’t be a sucker. But most of you will keep on being suckers, the sheep herded every day by the media, advisors, politicians, city councilmen, the doom sayers. You’re gonna keep your mutual fund in the stock market too long. But don’t worry because even if it crashes things will get better, they always do, and it can’t happen again anyway. It never did before, sucker.

If you have the slightest interest in this and how to potentially not be a sucker please read

    The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He conveys it so much better and in a more entertaining style. I never had an original idea in my life so that’s where it came from.