Jan 16 15

Je Suis Charlie: The CyberWar is now MainStream

by Joseph Carrabis

The Washington Post recently published Anonymous hacks terror website in retaliation for Charlie Hebdo attack.

It’s a fascinating read on so many levels.

The cyberattack wasn’t on a nuclear station, a power grid, a military base, an operations center, an intelligence command depot.

The cyberattack was on an idea, a belief, a way of doing things.

I remember an IRA member talking about an extremist attack on the London subway system. He said, “Those people are f?cking nuts. They’re not doing this right. We’re getting out of the terrorist business.”

And when was the last time you heard about an IRA attack? They may still be happening, we’re just not hearing about them.

And I’m not condoning the cyberattack, only recognizing it as a new level of warfare and a new type of warfare, a Censorship warfare. Or maybe not censorship as in “I won’t let you get your message out”, more like “I don’t care what you say, just don’t act on what you say…at least not in a way that’s going to hurt people.”

I don’t know where to place this, really.

Thoughts, everyone?


Jan 14 15

Is Paris Burning? And Who’s Holding the Match?

by Calum MacKenzie


The situation in Paris came as no surprise and fell into the category of ” here come the chickens home to roost.” European nations have 500+ years history of crusades of one form or another having learned zilch from those mistakes. The US, its clients and NATO continue to apply violence in many Muslim countries. The perpetrators then have the nerve to ask, “Why do they hate us?”

After all, we are the good guys. We want to further the cause of democracy, but not in Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, etc. We want all nations to enjoy the fruits of capitalism don’t we? Not so, the critics sing out. The US has to be in charge. The conditions which they impose on their trading partners would not see the light of day in Washington DC. So we have the enrichment of US banks via “odious debts” which are ruinous in the third world.

Hundreds have been killed, wounded or orphaned in the Yemen, thousands have suffered similar inhumane treatments in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. When the sunshine is too much for the US media to stomach, the US calls on client states, such as Israel and Honduras, and US armed dictators to fill the breach with violent aggression, eg. the Contras, with the usual ruinous results.

Each one of those who have suffered under US led aggression, has a family of relatives all of whom grew up in a culture where revenge is a legitimate remedy. They also live in oil rich areas where access to funding is possible. Some attend Wahabbi schools and learn more than quotes from the Koran. Some learn to read in English and pick up armed forces literature on the art of war.

So with the means, motives and opportunities, are we really surprised that the chickens are coming home to roost? Just as the European colonialists were on the wrong side of history for centuries, the US and NATO have joined that losing side.

So what can be done? How about diplomacy? How about listening to moderate Muslims? How about closing US and NATO bases in Muslim nations? How about treating Palestinians exactly as Israelis are treated and funded? How about doing unto others as we would have them do kindly unto us? How about getting mental health treatment for the national paranoia?

Obviously having nuclear weapons, superior instruments of war, EITs, and a spectrum of legislative and educational tools are ineffective against 7th century warriors who see death as a good thing. Yet we see armed forces personnel being sent as advisors, legislators, and educators; a task for which they are neither qualified nor adequately trained. As the US and NATO media and news releases are far right wing extremists, the general public is continuously misinformed, pinning its hopes on government sound bites. And so the carnage will continue till Obama or his advisors join the human race.


Jan 9 15

Gas Pump Nightmares

by Calum MacKenzie

The oil producing province of Alberta is struggling to maintain its workforce as the price of oil plummets. Those who are in natural gas production, pipelines and alternates have not been hit as yet. The Albertans go on to blame the Saudis for deliberately keeping production levels high, glutting the market and putting the boots to the competitors especially the Ruskies. However, the Ruskie ace in the hole is their natural gas market on which Europe depends.

As a client state of the US, I wonder if there isn’t background shenanigans going on in Saudi land to keep the Ruskies on the verge of failed statehood. One empire at a time is enough.

The Saudi family is so obscenely well off that the present fall in the barrel price of oil does no harm. Later, as they close the spigots which are now wide open, the six month fall in price will be quickly reversed.

Other oil producers such as Iran and Venezuela, no friends of the US, also suffer from those crude tactics. The upside of those tactics, is that consumers gladly go to the pumps and have shekels left over for other things such as groceries.

The downside, apart from unemployment in oil producing countries and the economic fallout across the spectrum, is that investment in alternatives seems less urgent. So the ecology of the planet suffers, climate change advances, and climate control planners have to reset their priorities.

I have no proof that US policies in client states is at the root of all this, just as no proof was available for bankrupting the USSR in Afghanistan or EITs. Yet we must learn from history and see that if it walks, talks and acts like duck it’s not a lilywhite swan.


Dec 22 14

“Predicting Election Outcomes via NextStage’s TargetTrack” or “Why Dean Led, Kerry was Droll and Lieberman Foundered in 2004″

by Joseph Carrabis


Note: This post was originally published as “An Evolution Technology Prediction Markets Case Study”

Background

NextStage was approached late in September of 2003 by the Lieberman Presidential Campaign camp. At that time, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) was running in the democratic Presidential primaries against a very large field, although the main contenders at the time boiled down to Senator Lieberman, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Howard Dean (ex-governor, D-VT).

The question we were asked was whether or not NextStage’s Evolution Technology™ could help the Lieberman camp improve their standing. The first part of meeting this request involved determining if the Lieberman camp’s current efforts would be successful in the long run, and I won’t keep you in suspense; we determined they would not be successful and history has borne us out.

However, to demonstrate the first and second stage predictive capabilities NextStage’s TargetTrack™ was able to provide [[(as documented in Working with Prediction Markets via NextStage’s Evolution Technology and Reading Virtual Minds Volume 1: Science and History. Readers who’d like the entire NextStage 2004 campaign analysis should contact NextStage directly)]], this case study shows a competitive analysis of similar web pages from the Dean, Kerry and Lieberman websites. These pages evaluated included the Home page, some Issues pages and pages profiling (or “About”) the candidates. The goal was to use Evolution Technology™ to determine which audiences the candidates were targeting and capturing via their online media, and to determine likely outcomes based on the material being used.

The content used was from Monday, 28 Sept 2003. The information presented on the following pages constitutes a summary of Evolution Technology‘s assessment of these website pages and was our opinion. While not a case for why one candidate’s website or candidate his or herself might be outperforming another, the information contained herein was useful for that type of analysis. No suggestions for modifying any sites were contained herein.

Gender Capture

First, we looked at what the targeted demographics for the web content were. The first category, “Gender Capture” shown below, indicates the Percentages of overall gender that the combined web pages targeted (Male v. Female).

Gender Capture Comparison for Lieberman, Kerry and Dean on 28 Sept 03

Lieberman was reaching out to a largely (63%) Male audience. Dean was almost 50/50. None of the candidates were targeting the “Women” voters. What this indicated was that Dean was doing an excellent job of getting his message across to both men and women.

Age Group Capture

Next we evaluated the age groups that would best respond to the web site messages over all web pages combined (shown below).

Age Capture for Lieberman, Kerry and Dean on 28 Sept 03

This chart shows that the material in Lieberman’s site was reaching out to a primarily middle-aged demographic. Kerry had a larger portion of the younger age groups, while Dean had the largest demographic coverage, including a larger part of the “senior citizens” demographic. Ages under 15 are not included in these charts because of their insignificance in the election process.

Based on just these two charts alone, NextStage was able to determine that on 28 Sept 03 Lieberman was going to remain third man if this was the race.

Age Group Comprehension

Thus far we determined that Dean was communicating best of all the candidates’ websites we were analyzing.

However, appealing to the broadest audience means nothing if that audience can’t understand what you’re telling them. Answering that was done by determining which age groups could best comprehend or understand each candidate’s message as presented on their websites.

The chart below shows which age groups would most likely understand and respond to the candidates messages as of 28 Sept 03. Kerry and Lieberman’s content was understandable by a younger age group (lower education level) while Dean’s messages were designed for both a more mature and much broader audience. One way to look at this is that Lieberman’s and Kerry’s messages were stated much more simply than Dean’s.

Which Age Groups could best understand each candidate's messages?

Generally, Comprehension Capture numbers should be close to Age Capture numbers, indicating that the messages are more likely to be hitting their targeted audience. In mass marketing efforts such as politics, however, the goal is to be understood by the largest audience possible and this often means aiming for a lower education requirement on the part of your target. There is a problem in aiming for a lower education requirement, however. Too simple a message can come across as off-putting and patronizing.

Dean’s message, while requiring a higher degree of sophistication to understand, was very well targeted to the age groups he was capturing. This could partially explain his ability as an internet fund-raiser.

Message Strengths

Whether you’re a political candidate or a business promoting a product, unless you can get that message out in a way that makes sense for what you’re selling you’re not getting things done.

All politicians are good orators; it’s part of their job. But the goal is to be good at talking about what’s on the minds of people when you meet them. Lieberman had many strengths but they weren’t strengths people were interested in during the 2003-2004 primary season.

Message Strengths – 1 (below) shows that Lieberman’s strengths were his ability to show (Visual) people Comparisons (his ability as a debater and in confronting issues). Kerry was good at communicating who he was (Identity) and that he has a Process in Place to solve the problems he talks about. Even if he didn’t communicate the process specifically, he was giving the message that he knew what the process was. If you add this to the fact that his messages require the least education to understand (Age Group Comprehension above ), this adds up to a good market penetration.

Liebeman's strengths were his ability to show comparisons. Kerry's strength was that he had a process in place.

Dean was a successful fundraiser because he grabbed the broadest age demographic (Age Group Capture on page ) and had the most even gender capture (Gender Capture above). He was also communicating his ability to provide Order and Structure (as shown in Message Strengths – 2 below) way above the others. This strongly appealed to voters’ economic and national security issues at that time.

Dean's strength was his ability to communicate structure and order to a concerned, anxious nation

Perhaps the final blow to Lieberman in this three horse race was that both Dean and Kerry both were indicating they had a greater ability to move Toward and Upward, which translates as their ability to get the nation to a better place (literally, “higher ground”) as shown in the Message Strengths – 3 chart below.

Both Kerry and Dean were better able to communicate their ability to improve things

Summary

NextStage’s Evolution Technology demonstrated its ability to function as both a stage 1 and stage 2 Prediction Market during the 2003-2004 Democratic Presidential Primaries and again during the 2004 Presidential elections [[ and we continue to do so via our Politics blog]].

The first stage of a true prediction market is to determine what a likely outcome will be. The second stage, and usually the more important stage — is being able to explain why the outcome will be what is predicted and to suggest ways to alter undesired outcomes into desired outcomes.


Dec 19 14

Welcome Back, Cuba. You were never far from our thoughts…or shores…

by Calum MacKenzie

Todays news, that US – Cuba relations are set to ease, is such a welcome notion that some faith in the goodness of humanity could be restored. Recognition that sanctions do not work, unless all players are in the game and abide by the rules, has finally dawned on an American president.

The people of Cuba have valiantly struggled against the wishes of the US and its trade impositions for over five decades. Yet their leadership, which brought about the reasons for sanctions, has not suffered. Against the wishes of the master race, the blanket of sanctions has been torn to shreds by many nations (except America’s client states such as Israel and Honduras.)

As in other zones of influence, the US had invaded, controlled and governed Cuba against the wishes of the people of Cuba. A sort of divine right of kings minus the royal blood. It mattered nothing that the Cubans were then subjected to years of violence under dictatorships supported by the US. Just as the former colonial Europeans had ground the population into subsistence farming and dire poverty, the US turned a blind eye to a suffering people.

By forbidding relations with Cuba among nations over which the US has sway, the US caused Cuba to seek solace elsewhere. So it built up relations with Eastern Europeans countries, including Russia and Central and South American states. In typical hypocritical fashion, those helping states were labelled rogue states, terrorists and outlaws. The Godawful spectre of Socialism and even worse, Communism was trundled out with much hair pulling and wringing of hands. Yet Socialism has given Cuba an enviable education system and a superior health system that puts others to shame.

The Cuban people are friendly, peace loving and welcoming to strangers. They have threatened no one. They have invaded no one. The US can not honestly make similar claims. The Cubans do not have a national dose of paranoia or cater to the latest bogie man. They seem sensible and mature.

The sunny climate seems to pass reflections to their national character. Cuba has many more assets than cigars and rum. Whenever there is an emergency situation anywhere on the planet, the Cubans are among the first to offer aid, medicine, and manpower to alleviate the situation. Even in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the Cubans jumped in with offers of aid, in New Orleans. Moreso than American EMO folk. The offers were turned down by the US. The Cubans are on the front lines fighting AIDS, Ebola, Earthquakes, floods and mudslides. American media offer no kudos for their good works. Cuba offers educators and health professionals in many areas of Africa.

If Mr. Obama’s initiative is taken up and supported by the US legislature, only good can come of it. Already the rumblings of dissent are being voiced by those who see no good in anything Mr. Obama proposes. Like the tree that falls in the forest and is not reported by Fox News, Obama gets the blame for the fall. The richest and most powerful nation in the world has a responsibility to raise diplomacy to new levels of good sense and maturity. I would like to hold my breath.