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Parowan Gap, UT. 700 year old petroglyphs

Parowan Gap

Parowan Gap

Parowan Gap petroglyphs

Parowan Gap petroglyphs

Sunset at the solstices lines up perfectly with the naturally created Parowan Gap. Indians believed the area was sacred. Petroglyphs are on the rocks, no one is quite sure what they meant. They might have been travel markers, calendars, reminders when to plant, or something else.

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What America hasn’t learned: If you occupy a nation, you will get shot at

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Conversely, if you leave a country you have been occupying, they will stop shooting at you. The excellent Small Wars Journal succinctly explains what the antiwar movement has always assumed and what our leaders refuse to accept. If you occupy a country, you will be seen as an occupier, the locals will band together to drive you out (or fleece you), and they will endeavor to kill you. Further, your presence changes things and makes it worse, not better for you. And it matters not what you think your motives are.

Emphasis added:

Heisenberg and Mao Zedong: The Occupier Effect

What could a German theoretical physicist and a communist revolutionary possibly have in common? On the surface, nothing whatsoever. Dig a little deeper though, and they shed light on an unavoidable reality of modern conflict. As the United States emerges from the two longest wars in its history and attempts to absorb the lessons learned, perhaps the biggest lesson is the one Werner Heisenberg and Chairman Mao combine to teach us. For years, during both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, commanders struggled to find methods to decrease the level of enemy activity. This they always seemed to do without considering how their mere presence in the battlespace drove insurgent activity. Before we embark on our next foreign adventure, Americans need to remember one simple fact: as long as we accept the moral responsibility for ungoverned spaces, insurgent forces will attack us. Acceptance of this simple truth should drive our nation’s cost-benefit analysis in light of perceived national interest.

This is particularly relevant now if, as John Robb suggests, ISIS may now attack Saudi Arabia, no doubt provoking the US to come blundering in, alienating the population, causing more than a few of them to join ISIS.

It is impossible to properly evaluate the security status in a given theater of operations without considering the presence of the outsiders. As Americans, we are loath to ever view ourselves as occupiers. Our opinion does not count in these matters, though.

Exactly. The important thing is what the locals think of us.

The insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan operated in similar fashion to Mao’s tenants. Once the initial shock of invasion dissipated, there developed a phenomena which can be aptly named “The Occupier Effect”. Despite claims of strategic goals regarding stability operations, nation-building, and free elections, coalition forces remained in place largely due to the lack of security. No matter what coalition forces did, the insurgents continued to launch attacks. No one seemed to realize the insurgents were fighting because coalition forces were still in their countries.

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Our coming content-free presidential race

Horse_Race_Finish_Line

Read current articles about our coming presidential race and you will discover the focus is on the horse race with little if any discussion of actual issues, except for how they influence polling data. Issues by themselves are not worth discussing by MSM. They only care how issues affect the horse race. Does Hillary’s stance on job creation resonate well with likely-to-vote females in swing states? Will middle-aged males in red states be alienated by Jeb’s moderate stance on immigration? Do any of the major candidates actually care what their platform is, except for how mouthing carefully-chosen platitudes can attract votes? I think we all know the answer to that.

Neither Jeb or Hillary say anything about the disgraceful and corrupt Obama Administration policy of never prosecuting banksters or the powerful. Because both of them they will continue that policy.

The media will become increasingly frenzied about the 2016 presidential campaign, focusing on the jockeying between the opponents, with little if any discussion of issues.

People who are concerned about an issue tend to be more concerned about that issue that those who aren’t. Imagine that. This is what passes for analysis by our media now.

Partisanship and gender identity are closely aligned in these considerations for Clinton as the first female president. While majorities across all groups say it will not matter, 4 in 10 Democrats and nearly 3 in 10 women say this fact will make them more likely to support her. Men who see it as a factor tilt positive by 19 percent saying more likely to support to 11 percent less likely. Republicans who say it is an issues see it as a net negative, with 24 percent saying her gender will make them less likely to support her and 8 percent more likely.

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Our supposedly impartial journalists are lackeys for elites

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George Monbiot nails it on the craven state of our pretend journalism. Those who are supposed to investigate elites and their crimes instead run interference for them. The same is true of politicians and D.C. insiders. Too often they are angling for cushy well-paying private sector jobs after public work and aren’t about to upset  presumed benefactors. If you want that cushy job, then don’t criticize anyone in The Club. And never, ever risk offending advertisers or the powerful.

When people say they have no politics, it means that their politics aligns with the status quo. None of us are unbiased, none removed from the question of power. We are social creatures who absorb the outlook and opinions of those with whom we associate, and unconciously echo them. Objectivity is impossible.

The illusion of neutrality is one of the reasons for the rotten state of journalism, as those who might have been expected to hold power to account drift thoughtlessly into its arms.

Those who are supposed to scrutinise the financial and political elite are embedded within it.

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Some passwords are so obvious they don’t need to be hacked

WorstPasswords-2013

SplashData has released their list of Worst Passwords for 2013 and in a stunning upset, “123456” has beaten “password” and is now #1. Really?

Even sillier, people sometimes use the application as a base for the password. Here’s a Pro Tip. If you are accessing Photoshop online, your password should not be “photoshop” or “abode123″, it just shouldn’t.

SplashData’s top 25 list was compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online during the previous year. The company advises consumers or businesses using any of the passwords on the list to change them immediately.

Having trouble remembering all those different strong passwords? Try using a password manager application that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites.

I use LastPass. If you aren’t using a password manager, you might want to. Then you only need remember one password. LastPass does not store passwords on their website, it encrypts them locally using the LastPass password. They do not know what the password is. The only caveat is is if you forget your LastPass password you are out of luck.

While a lot of attention is given to high profile account breaches, the truth is many passwords are next to useless because of their simplicity.

Another problem is sysadmins forgetting to change default passwords, which is akin to leaving the door to the vaults unlocked.

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On portraying the Prophet and being offended

Chick Publications anti-Catholic ranting

Chick Publications anti-Catholic ranting

The furor of Islamists at Charlie Hebdo appears politically motivated rather than based on religious beliefs. I would be willing to bet large amounts of money that AQ and IS leaders do not follow their own Draconian rules and instead are mainly concerned with money, power, and women.

I was raised Catholic and have seen more than a bit of viciously anti-Catholic propaganda, such as the hate-filled Chick Publications, To my knowledge, no Catholic has ever said Jack Chick must be killed. Christian churches were just burned in Niger and several killed in response to the Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoon. (Yes, I’m quite awars that black churches have been burned by in the US by white “Christians”, who probably included Catholics.) All such religiously-based violence is derangement, and if there is any minority that particularly hates our freedoms, it is religious fanatics who think God is telling them what to do. I’m not bashing religion. Lots of people get real help and strength from their beliefs.

South Park can be at least as offensive as anything Charlie Hebdo has done. South Park satire can also be quite funny and biting. Since it satirizes and attacks most everything, it can’t be accused of being racist, sexist, or insulting to specific targets. South Park gleefully lampoons everyone. In one telling incident Isaac Hayes, the voice of Cookie, quit because South Park insulted Scientology, of which he is a member.

South Park co-creator Matt Stone replied “In 10 years and more than 150 episodes Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non sequitur. Of course, we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well.”

Rules against depicting Mohammed the Prophet does not appear to be an iron-clad rule for Muslims. And even if it was, so what? The rule doesn’t apply to non-Mulims.

The permissibility of depictions of Muhammad in Islam has been a contentious issue. Oral and written descriptions are readily accepted by all traditions of Islam, but there is disagreement about visual depictions. The Quran does not explicitly forbid images of Muhammad, but there are a few hadith (supplemental teachings) which have explicitly prohibited Muslims from creating visual depictions of figures.

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ThyssenKrupp new elevator, no rope, travels horizontally too

elevator

Modern building design is constrained by what elevators can do. This new elevator design, to be tested in 2016, has no cables and uses induction power transfers from shaft to cabin. Multiple cabins can be one shaft and the cabins can move horizontally as well as vertically. Elevator shafts are smaller than with traditional elevators. Construction costs drop. Floor space is freed up for other purposes. Building design can now change significantly.

This design is from ThyssenKrupp, a German industrial giant with 160,000 employees and could be a game changer.

The era of the rope-dependent elevator is now over, 160 years after its invention. ThyssenKrupp places linear motors in elevator cabins, transforming conventional elevator transportation in vertical metro systems. MULTI elevator technology increases transport capacities and efficiency while reducing the elevator footprint and peak loads from the power supply in buildings. Several cabins in the same shaft moving vertically and horizontally will permit buildings to adopt different heights, shapes, and purposes. The first MULTI unit will be in tests by 2016.

Building design will no longer be limited by the height or vertical alignment of elevator shafts, opening possibilities to architects and building developers they have never imagined possible.

JetsonGreen adds.

This elevator would be propelled by a magnet-based drive, with each cab featuring one set of induction motors for horizontal and vertical movement. The tracks along which these cabs would run, would be attached to the wall, eliminating the need for cables. Furthermore, because of this novel design, there could be more than one cab travelling through the shaft, meaning that a cab could pick up passengers every 15 to 30 seconds. This would mean smaller and slower elevators, which would still get you to your destination faster.

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Nevada and Utah function better than California

western-US

We recently moved from California, which has steep state income taxes, to Nevada, which has no state income tax. I expected Nevada to have vastly less services and was wrong. Nevada functions better than California. Roads, parks, infrastructure are in better shape here than in California. Major freeways and roads in L.A. and the S.F. Bay area often need maintenance. Roads and highways in Vegas are well-maintained. Sue and I noticed the same thing when we lived in Utah. Things just work better there than in the constantly-squabbling California. This might be a function of size. Maybe California is just too big to be governed effectively. However there are plenty of political squabbles in Nevada and Utah too, yet they get resolved faster.

A few examples:

A few years back a Utah state legislator determined their public pension system would face major financial problems in the coming years if things didn’t change. The state revamped their public pension system in one year. Californians have known for years their public pension system is hugely underfunded yet nothing of substance has been done.

Nevada and Utah let businesses apply online to start LLC. California still doesn’t have this basic capability. Really? How quaint.

More seriously, California just recently passed a toothless law to regulate groundwater pumping while Nevada and Utah have had such laws for years.

One nice feature here: Nevada DMV allows you to schedule appointments by text. It alerts you when the appointment will be then tells you when you have 15 minutes to get there. You check in using the last four digits of your cell phone number. If you arrive late, it sends another message allowing you to check back in at the front of the line in the next 60 minutes.

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More Cool Justice. Andy Thibault, “junkyard dog for justice”

more-cool-justice-cover

Andy Thibault is a hardcore investigative reporter. He helped free Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, who was jailed for decades unjustly. His new book more Cool Justice discusses that fight, ‘Who Killed Gabe Caporino”, “Woody Allen’s Slippery Tap Dance”, how the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act has been disemboweled, the imprisonment of a transgendered teen without charges, the Micheal Skakel appeal,and more.

An excerpt from his Gabe Caporino story demonstrates his writing ability and determination.

The world of missing persons is like another dimension.

I’ve made just a couple forays into this world. It’s a world of forced enlightenment for the families of victims. For me – in semi-retirement after a career writing and teaching – the journey has crystallized impressions of how police work or don’t work to solve crimes.

As a young reporter, I learned quickly how some cops, prosecutors and judges will do virtually anything to stop crimes from being solved.

My initial experience with a missing person case opened the door to an overwhelming barrage of horrendous tales. I can barely take one at a time.

Yet, here I am in New Orleans, walking where Gabe Caporino walked.

From the website for the book.

Andy Thibault is the author of more COOL JUSTICE, a second collection of hard-hitting essays credited with helping to free a woman unjustly convicted of first degree murder. Novelist Chandra Prasad calls Thibault “Connecticut’s premiere journalistic warrior.” Wally Lamb says: “Thibault is a junkyard dog for justice who bares his teeth at pomposity and institutional unfairness and only bites the truly deserving.”

We need more like him. I just ordered an autographed copy.

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On recruiting by extremist groups

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I was once recruited by a far left group. They recruited through front groups, personal contact, the internet and did so quite deliberately, with planning, meetings, and discussion of who to recruit. Islamists recruit using the same process. To defuse the now-obvious Islamist threat, we need to understand how recruiting happens. We are engaged in asymmetric warfare against Islamists. They cannot be defeated using guns alone because there is no defined battlefield and the foe is not always known. We need to win through better ideas and smarter recruiting.

Academic authors tend to focus more on explaining the puzzle of weak actor victory in war: if “power,” conventionally understood, conduces to victory in war, then how is the victory of the “weak” over the “strong” explained? Key explanations include (1) strategic interaction; (2) willingness of the weak to suffer more or bear higher costs; (3) external support of weak actors; (4) reluctance to escalate violence on the part of strong actors; (5) internal group dynamics[3] and (6) inflated strong actor war aims. Asymmetric conflicts include both interstate and civil wars, and over the past two hundred years have generally been won by strong actors. Since 1950, however, weak actors have won a majority of all asymmetric conflicts

Recruiters for far left / far right / religious extremists groups never let potential recruits know the full story and the real agenda at first. They are eased into in via the always popular method of starting front groups ostensibly about a certain cause or belief. The front groups attract people who are monitored and those deemed possible recruits are slowly spoon-fed the more radical ideologies to see how they react. Then the weeding-out process begins. The potential recruit has no idea this is happening or how closely they are being watched.

Then, say, the recruit is invited to a party where among the good times, it becomes apparent what the group is really about. Slowly the recruit is given more access, more things to do, until most of not all of their social life revolves around the group. Then the formal invitation to join is made.

That’s how it works. That’s what we need to counter. And we can use the same methods to steer recruits away from mindless violence and fanaticism not towards it.Of course, our front groups should be transparent about goals and who is running them.

As for that far left group I joined, I got purged a few years later. I’ve always had a low tolerance towards accepting doctrinaire bullshit uncritically. For some of us on the left, being purged from groups like this is a badge of honor, a rite of passage. :)

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