15 December 2016

Putin as the big bad wolf of XXI century

This post is a sequel to previous one on the mayhem caused to the 2016 elections in US of A. It is inspired by the article:

U.S. Officials: Putin Personally Involved in U.S. Election Hack

I don't see any reason to disbelieve that claim. Putin has the necessary mentality of a mid level KGB officer, which was his last rank, and of course he would have wanted to be a part of this specific bit of nefarious dealings. And, as already mentioned previously, CIA does have a gift of perfect hindsight vision.

What bothers me somewhat is the storm of indignation coming out from all directions of American political spectrum. It is as if the incessant scandals related to NSA and its various tentacles eavesdropping on everything that goes on around the globe, be it a phone call, an e-mail or an Internet site, never happened. And if you are trying to tell me that no US secret outfit ever performed a B&E on any foreign computer, please pull my other leg.

And of course, the spooks in other countries, friendly or not, are quite busy doing the same to their allies, enemies and everyone in between, so let's stop playing that injured innocence drama, it just doesn't wash. This was re indignation.

About this analysis of Russian motives:
Putin's objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a "vendetta" against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore," the official said.
I don't have any problems with the "vendetta" point, nor with the "effort to show corruption in American politics" - the true DNC material that was publicly uncovered has done both quite well. Shouldn't all Americans be bipartisanly grateful to Putin for that disclosure? - is another question I've never succeeded to get a coherent answer to.

As for creating the image mentioned above: that objective is really funny: I was quite confident that the 8 years of the last administration accomplished it quite well. Why should Putin bother?

In short: the outfit that usually learns about many key events happening on this globe from TV should really restrict its collective imagination and leave the analysis like this to tea leaves readers.

The list of atrocities caused by the big bad wolf is growing, branching out to things like this one:

Labour MP claims it's 'highly probable' Russia interfered with Brexit

And, once an example of blaming one's problem on somebody else was given, there will be no end to it, obviously. You must check out this inanity as well.

Russia may organise migrant sex attacks in Europe to make Angela Merkel lose German elections, EU experts claim

These same experts who allowed NSA, CIA and, I bet, uncounted other secret services to listen to the phone conversations of their leaders, try to predict the future? Spare me, please.

And now to quote myself, to finish on an upbeat note:

Have you noticed the other positive thing that came out of the Moscow hacking scandal? Lately many transgressions that people were routinely ascribing to the Jooz are blamed on Kremlin.

Kinda breath of fresh air.

On the negative side, we are becoming much less fearsome. Hmm...

14 December 2016

Service announcement: fellow Americans, you are certifiably mad!

Starting the post with a personal conclusion: I am so glad that I've decided a few months ago to sit out the whole US elections process on the fence. Only now I understand how any other move would have been dangerous for the puny remnants of my sanity. And how I would have been raving against my screen these days for or against this or other breach of elections' purity, popular vote, hacking, tampering, dark forces on this or another front etc. etc.

And even sitting on the fence, I have been somewhat swept by the wave of popular wrath directed at Moscow, who, according to so many pundits, swayed the result of the elections into that impossible direction. As a lot of other people, I have missed the point where the popular wrath against the popular and handy big bad wolf totally obscured the info that this bad wolf was (or wasn't, whatever) providing.

The penny dropped for me only after reading this article:

The Kremlin Didn’t Sink Hillary—Obama Did

The author, John Schindler "is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer"*. He is definitely a man with an agenda, good or bad is not for me to say. I am not even remotely interested (for now) in the main thrust of his peace, no matter whether he is right or wrong. Something else caught my attention. Namely the two following quotes:

To anybody acquainted with well-honed Moscow agitprop techniques, this was no more than old-style KGB Active Measures sped up for the Internet age. That said, the threat posed by this online disinformation offensive is real, as I and other experts counseled years ago (in my case, beginning with the defection of Edward Snowden to Moscow in June 2013). However, it was frankly difficult to get the mainstream media interested in this rising problem—at least until the Kremlin’s disinformation machine went after Hillary, as it did in 2016 with gusto.
Notice the repeat appearance of the word "disinformation". Here is the second quote:
By refusing to debunk noxious Russian lies, Obama encouraged Putin to tell more of them—including about Hillary Clinton. This culminated in the Russian intelligence operation which employed Wikileaks as a front to disseminate Democratic emails which had been intercepted by Moscow—as I told you months ago, and which the National Security Agency has recently admitted.
Notice the words "noxious Russian lies".

And here it clinched for me. Ladies and gentlemen: when the best and brightest among you, pro-Hillary or pro-Trump no matter, apply the term "disinformation" aka "noxious Russian lies" to a great deal of totally valid information that was delivered into your hands gratis, whether by a well-meaning whistleblower or a bad conniving bastard in Moscow (or both), you all are guilty not only of a crime against an English dictionary, but of monumental, certifiable madness.

Disinformation: Misinformation that is deliberately disseminated in order to influence or confuse rivals (foreign enemies or business competitors etc.)

Information: A collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn.

So there. I feel much better now. And I continue my fence straddling meanwhile, not that we don't have our own elections looming. Get better soon, Americans, I have some vested interests in your sanity.

Yes: and read this indeed.

Hillary Clinton Lost. Get Over It And Stop Blaming Russia, WikiLeaks And ‘Fake’ News

A rare sign of sobriety in the witches cauldron of madness.

(*) Of course, it is not up to me to verify the pedigree of the man.

Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity and Political Correctness

I have always been partial to a well turned out, well financed and well documented totally useless research, of which there are so many variations in so many nests of learning in this world (examples in the addendum). Lately, though, with the onset of Political Correctness, one should be more tuned into the whys and hows of the scientific progress and be more attentive to subtle nuances, hitherto missed.

One such questionable research, which I am bringing to your attention, was outrageously conceived and sloppily performed in Université du Québec à Montréal. Its purpose was, ostensibly, "To determine energy expenditure in kilocalories (kcal) during sexual activity in young healthy couples in their natural environment and compare it to a session of endurance exercise". A worthy endeavor by all means, you would say. But wait. Here is the first stumbling block:
The study population consisted of twenty one heterosexual couples (age: 22.6 ± 2.8 years old) from the Montreal region.
I don't even know where to start with this extremely offensive confession of amoral and absolutely politically incorrect choice of the study group. Here comes the (unsorted) list of blunders:
  • Ageism. Where are the middle-aged and senior citizens? Excluded.
  • Anti-multiculturalism: Where are the different religions, sects, atheists etc.? Excluded.
  • Lack of gender recognition. The acronym LGBTQQIP2SAA barely starts to describe the wonderful world of different gender persuasions. Where are all these genders represented in this study? Excluded.
  • Political blindness. It is (anecdotally) known that people of different political orientation have different approaches to expending their energy on sexual activity. Excluded.
  • Lack of control group. Why there wasn't a control group, made out of all the above mentioned folks NOT being able to be sexually active, doing instead something else? Like watching a football game on TV? Excluded.
The list of glaring examples of lack of inclusiveness could go on and on. But even this inadequate study brought at least one result worthy of attention:
Mean energy expenditure during sexual activity was 101 kCal or 4.2 kCal/min in men and 69.1 kCal or 3.1 kCal/min in women.
Of course, it is fruit from a poisoned tree. Still, the measured lack of gender equality, at least in Montréal, Canada, is extremely worrying, and UN should want to address it urgently. While these numbers might explain the longer life expectancy of the female population, the sacred principle of gender equality doesn't care about side effects. So there.

As for the whole unfortunate un-PC research: Redo From Scratch!

Addendum: selected examples of research

Testosterone is what drives men's desire to own fast cars.

Pet owners should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat.

Cat owners cleverer than dog owners.

Study links chocolate and depression.

Vegetarian dinosaurs' flatulence may have warmed Earth.

Wet objects are easier to handle with wrinkled fingers than with dry, smooth ones.

Men going thin on top may be more likely to have heart problems than their friends with a full head of hair.

Researchers say wearing bra 'false necessity'.

Monsanto Cucumbers Cause Genital Baldness.

Men with smaller testicles more likely to be involved with nappy changing, feeding and bath time.

A woman's sex drive begins to plummet once she is in a secure relationship.

10 December 2016

Russian hacking of US elections process: for Trump or against Hillary?

After several months of indecision, CIA came out swinging. The result is expressed in a WaPo headline:

Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

The article leaves at least one line of investigation untouched. It also puts the headline's conclusion (Russians rooting for Trump) as the final one. Of course, WaPo is not a PR branch of CIA, but if in that article WaPo faithfully reproduced the CIA findings, they (the findings) smell fishy. It is not unheard of that this mighty intelligence outfit fails to produce a correct assessment of the goings on. But in most cases it was related to predictions and not to the analysis of the past affairs - the hindsight so far worked OK. More or less.

I am not challenging the conclusion about the Russian involvement, far from it. After all, if European media, talking heads and others were so heavily involved in the US elections process, why would SVR/KGB stay away from the occasion to muddy the waters?

Nope, the point that I still can't agree with is the insistence that Russians rooted for Trump. Russian style of managing their international affairs always favored stable and predictable leaders in the seats of power abroad. Why would Russia work to help out a totally unpredictable and mercurial one like Trump and not Hillary, much more stable and predictable? Highly doubtful.

We have to look at the timing and the contents of the leaks to understand their purpose. That same WaPo has quite clearly stated at the time what was the intention of the leaks:

Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically all of these examples came late in the primary -- after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory -- but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.
Lots of other leaks attacked Hillary directly, of course:
Long before Hillary Clinton called millions of Americans a “basket of deplorables,” her top campaign advisers and liberal allies openly mocked Catholics, Southerners and a host of other groups, according to newly released emails that offer a stunning window into the vitriol inside the Clinton world less than a month before Election Day.
The emails, published by WikiLeaks after a hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s private account, also show Clinton campaign officials and Democratic leaders disparaging supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders as “self-righteous” whiners, calling Hispanic party leaders such as Bill Richardson “needy Latinos,” labeling CNN anchor Jake Tapper “a d—k” and even lambasting longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal.
Yes, Hillary clearly was the target, but was the leaking campaign inspired by support for Trump? The timing doesn't figure. The leaks came when the main focus of Hillary's campaign was one Bernard Sanders.

I would say that if there was active SVR involvement, knowing the Russian penchant for predictability and deeply rooted sympathies for the left and far left, the goal was to help out Bern. And this is the line of inquiry totally neglected by the high and mighty in CIA. Why had CIA chosen to produce a conclusion that seems to be so detached from reality? Beats me. Consider me confused. Like this:

04 December 2016

Glenn Greenwald remains a blubbering idiot

I could care less about the far right and far left. The best deal would have been to place them together on an island and watch them exterminate one another. And yes, I am aware of the sad fact that today they will find so much in common that this unification project will miss its point.

But, as the Hon. Elder correctly writes, there always will be a somewhat pleasurable pastime of checking up on some blubbering idiots, to ensure they are what they are. This priceless quote does it:

Any party driven by antipathy toward Muslims will obviously find common cause with an Israeli government that has spent decades occupying, bombing, and denying basic political rights to Muslims.
I see... so, according to the blubbering idiot, the root cause of the whole I/P issue is Islamophobia (see how adept I am in using the modern lingo?).

Blubbering idiocy confirmed. Now read the whole post, linked above. It is good, I promise.

01 December 2016

Lisa Naomi Goldman vs identity politics

Being a matter of revisiting old friends and ex-friends, this post isn't going to be very remarkable. Just a bit of lazy fisking and confirmation of status, so don't get excited.

I have stumbled on Lisa's remarks re Haaretz' article Israeli Arab ballerina takes crown in Israel's first transgender beauty pageant. Since I'm not very much into beauty pageants, you can read the article yourself, but the headline tells enough. And here is Lisa's analysis of the article:

Can we lose the term "Israeli Arab" already? Imagine if the New York Times referred to Barack Obama as the first coloured president of the United States. So freaking offensive.
And notice that the second 'graf opens with the information that she's Christian. The subtext: More liberal than a Muslim, of course. And, somehow, less Palestinian, perhaps. Less scary. More like us Jews.
Also, I am bracing myself for a whole slew of hasbara articles about how Israel is just the most awesome place in the world for Arabs to live. Because there are no transgender beauty pageants in Egypt or Syria, right. Forget equal civil rights for Jewish and Arab citizens. So unimportant when we have, like, beauty pageants that allow Arabs to compete alongside Jews.
So, to the fisking now:
Can we lose the term "Israeli Arab" already? Imagine if the New York Times referred to Barack Obama as the first coloured president of the United States. So freaking offensive.
To start with, I am not sure what the complaint is about. Living in US of A, the nation of about 97 genders and enough identity tags to split the population into approximately 300+ million separate species, one is decrying that comparatively innocent "Israeli Arab"? Strange, innit?

As for the second sentence, the one that starts with "Imagine...": I've performed a simple search in the New York Times innards, with the search term "obama black president". The first page of the search results is presented below*. Sufficient to say that there were 57,300 results, and even if we assume that 90% of those are false responses... Imagine. Yeah, freaking offensive. Or not, depends how you look at that, I guess.
And notice that the second 'graf opens with the information that she's Christian. The subtext: More liberal than a Muslim, of course. And, somehow, less Palestinian, perhaps. Less scary. More like us Jews.
That notion of Christianity of the Israeli Arab transgender ballerina could be dispensed with by a reference to the previous response. Otherwise there is nothing factual in the rest of the quote for fisking. Still, there are two points worth a notice: clumsy creation of a strawman, by putting into Haaretz'(!) collective mouth some words this uber-progressive media outfit wouldn't dream about; and a practically uninterrupted use of sarcasm.
In fact the whole missive, as it appears at the beginning of that post, is a chain of sarcastic sentences. I am not sure that I agree with Oscar Wilde's opinion that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. But one thing for sure: overuse of that otherwise fine tool makes - to use some imagery - all the difference between a spitting cobra and a garden hose (under low pressure).
Also, I am bracing myself for a whole slew of hasbara articles about how Israel is just the most awesome place in the world for Arabs to live. Because there are no transgender beauty pageants in Egypt or Syria, right.
I don't know whether the victory of the Israeli Arab Christian transgender ballerina caused a plethora of Hasbarah articles, not following the genre. Possibly, although I tend to doubt it**. I am also not sure whether Israel is the best place for Arabs to live. I would suspect that Saudi Arabia, UAE and similar spots will have some added attractions for a person of Arab persuasion. On the other hand, I can easily mention several Arab countries which an Arab person will definitely shun in favor of Israel.

I guess the last thing Syrians and, to some extent, Egyptians, think about right now is a transgender beauty pageant. With good reasons, too, so I don't think this point needs any fisking.
Forget equal civil rights for Jewish and Arab citizens.
First of all, why? Secondly, even if someone forgets, lots of Arab (and Jewish, by the way) citizens, not to mention extremely attentive external watchers will remind us. No worries.
So unimportant when we have, like, beauty pageants that allow Arabs to compete alongside Jews.
I don't really know... oh, that was another, thankfully the last, spurt of sarcasm. Strengthened to no end by that "like", of course.

So, what could I conclude about that missive by Lisa? No useful content, awkward attempt at a strawman creation, almost criminal overuse of sarcasm; what was all that about?

Yep, another attempt to stick it to the ex-fellow Z...s.


(*) That NYT search (click on the image to view in comfort):

(**) After all, I went to google for Ta'alin Abu Hanna, the lady that won that contest. A lot of entries indeed, but most of them non-Israeli, with quite a few articles in the Arab press***. And, verily a wonder of wonders: most of the articles use "Arab Israeli from a Catholic family" or similar. Go figure...

(***) Am I allowed to say "Arab press"? I am not sure anymore /end of sarcasm for that post