…if you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, and by tortures, and by guilt, it will no longer be defended, but will be polluted and profaned.

This Post Is Elemental

Thanks go to The Tramp Abroad for pointing to a blistering commentary on parlous times.

Prospects For The USA’s “Progressives”

Killer quote:

Shell-shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the US Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.

Source, where you can find the entire highly-recommended commentary. Yes, though the USA’s collectivist Utopians still have virtual strangleholds on the print and TV media, as well as an insular monopoly in most educational institutions, the sheer impracticality of authoritarian neo-Marxist ideology is crippling. That disability will not deter madcap ideologues such as faux Squaw Warren, of course, nor will it necessarily make it possible for a “wingnut” to win the White House. The popularity contest continues.

Paris

The assassinations are reported by the news media, but you might not have been properly informed about the responses of the USA and the UN. For the relevant quotes and commentary on them, do see these posts on the internet: Obama, and Ki-moon.

Daniel Henninger, writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes that “After each major terrorist act that catches the world’s attention…one thinks that this will be the event that causes the West’s political leadership to get serious about the global threat of Islamic fundamentalism….”. His exasperation is warranted.

The Dean of this newsletter’s subscribers writes to share a seminal insight: “Fear and hate are a dreadful combination.”

More: The Tramp Abroad observes that “The conspiracy theorists are already at work. But…maybe they are on to something. Yesterday I noticed the guy in the FLAK jacket. Strange.”

Also courtesy of The Tramp: Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out that this attack does have to do with Islam (the commentary is in German; for the English-language version, click here). Next, see how the Arab press reacted to the slaughter.

Finally…what, exactly, could be expected, given the grim facts?

The Overlooked Threats

While some people who claim to know say North Korea did not stick its thumb in Sony’s eye, the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation has doubled down on its call. (The Tramp Abroad passes on this refutation.) Here’s some interesting commentary on the incident. Perhaps the public will forever be considered undeserving of the full story….

Meanwhile Australia is nervous.

This website aggregates virtually all the nation-destroying threats that exist because of the inattention, irrationality, malfeasance, sloth, and stupidity of Western governments. The threats are unique to the twenty-first century, and they far surpass the nuclear threat posed by the former Soviet Union during the last century.

The illogic of denial

Those who dismiss these dangers resort to irrational excuses for not paying attention — or for dismissing proposals for effective defense. Their rationalizations typically mirror these themes:

“It has not happened, and that proves it can’t happen.”

“The North Koreans and the Iranians are not smart enough or organized enough to do any harm to our well-designed defenses.”

“Crackers would have to get past a lot of super-sophisticated gizmos in order to shut down our grid. Look: you can’t understand the technology involved here, so you don’t know — and can’t prove — that it won’t work.”

Of course all those possible attacks were thought of, and defended against, long ago. The sky is not falling, now is it?”

“Stop trying to scare everybody. You are just a Chicken Little.”

The obvious solution

Clearly, the notion that all control devices and computers must be accessible over telephone lines is more than false: it is appallingly dangerous.

To learn more about the problem, this newsletter asked an insider to explain generally what his company is doing to secure critical SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) networks. His response is enlightening:

Not only are pipelines, electric networks, and water systems at risk. There are other installations that should be classified as Critical Infrastructure. Here is clear justification for the separation of corporate networks from production/process control systems: Link One, and Link Two.Criminal and devious minds will always believe they are up to the challenge of whatever security system is in place, be it a bank’s alarm system, the combination lock on a safe or the encryption of a digital network.

My home internet connection is not via the telephone network; it is a dedicated fiber optic cable network. Of course, it is technically feasible to tap into a FO network, but this is more likely to be done by a state-sponsored intelligence agency than by a criminal group.

The belief that the SCADA systems of critical national infrastructures are connected via telephone networks is — to a great extent — no longer true. There may be still a few remaining links, but the owners are removing these phone connections. For example, (a nation which shall remain nameless) has retrofitted its entire gas pipeline network with a dedicated FO network, and has separated or removed any direct connectivity to the internet. That country does have some stations connected to a public network as a back-up, but the connections have to be made manually. Then we are currently finishing a project (in another nation) for a privately owned crude oil pipeline. Much attention has been paid to security and encryption in the design of the network. When we do remote maintenance on SCADA systems, the connection between our technicians is via a VPN (virtual private network) link that is manually made. Once the maintenance is completed, the Ethernet cable is physically removed from the port on the switch.

Modern SCADA system design requires that this operational system be completely separated from the corporate network. Of course, realtime and historical information from the SCADA system may be needed by corporate users. This information is replicated through a special one-way firewall on a limited number of ports to a so-called Decision Support Server. All corporate requests for SCADA information are made to the DSS, not to the operational SCADA system.

Obviously some people know what to do and how to do it. Unfortunately…well, two disturbing facts remain incontestable: first, there are insecure SCADA networks, though which they are and how many they are can only be guessed; second, the leadership of the West is ethically bankrupt (see the above item, Paris).

Related: The Tramp Abroad notes “Iranian cyber actors are cracking into US organizations. Download the full report.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline: A Proposal, A Puzzle, A Political Predicament

The Republicans have a majority in the US Senate, but that will not allow them to override The One Leader’s expected veto of approval of the pipeline. As this is written, the price of gasoline has fallen due to increased availability of crude oil (a very recent uptick in retail prices is evidently due to a “cap and trade” tax imposed by ignorant legislators who have been terrified by Gore-Hansen cultists’ claims of anthropogenic global warming). Lower costs of all petroleum products are good news for consumers and for firms that provide pharmaceuticals, chemicals for production of ink, fertilizers, insecticides, solvents, plastics, and an astronomical number of products. Petroleum is fundamental to the welfare of the contemporary world. The Keystone XL pipeline is a tiny instance of efforts to enhance prosperity literally everywhere.

Unfortunately that case for the pipeline is bitterly contested by organized labor, most leaders of the USA’s Democratic Party, and The One Leader Himself. Are those people crazy?

Clearly not. In fact they have superficially rational but factually incorrect reasons to oppose the pipeline.

Keystone XL’s opponents, hoping to appear informed and objective, make a complex case for their proposals. (A common assumption: that complex statements indicate the speaker has a profound understanding of all the facts, and is both candid and truthful.) This argument against the pipeline, for example, makes multiple assumptions and claims. The case can be summarized as follows: burning petroleum is a bad idea, because it causes bad weather. Storms kill people and damage the economy. This pipeline will bring filthy, polluting oil into the USA, enriching bad people and eventually putting decent folks out of work.

In order to provide a comprehensive and credible response to the many strands of the case against Keystone XL, this newsletter would have to compose a small book. This will have to do for now:

When the price of a basic resource such as petroleum either rises or falls, the national economy adjusts, and not always gently. The politicians and labor unions and powerful corporations and banks all try to control the change — and benefit from it, to the disadvantage of less powerful sectors of society. The best policy is never implemented.

And just what is that “best policy”? Permitting free markets to operate as they will, undirected, unhindered, unmanipulated, uncontrolled. (Regulated, yes. Nobody wants industry dumping toxic wastes in schoolyards, and so on.)

If the USA has a biggest problem, it could be that many powerful people are able to exploit less powerful people. An easy way to exploit is to govern unethically. And…

…unethical governance can begin with a myth crafted to terrify the populace. Today’s instances of myth-making and unprincipled rule include the anthropogenic global warming lie and the political machinations justified by that lie. The arguments against the Keystone XL pipeline are a definitive example of bad science in the service of greedy rascals.

Cautionary Ruminations On How The Police In The USA Conduct Themselves

The basics

If you live in a legal residence or maintain a legal business in the United States, you should read The Rise of the Warrior Cop; it’s reviewed here. (The review is excellent, by the way.) In the same Number you will find this statement: “…the (US) immigration police not serving at border crossings have no authority to order or compel people to obey. It’s all a charade.” There’s also this.

An instructive instance

A college student in the USA alleges that he was beaten by a police officer. He is given two million dollars by the municipality that employed the officer — on the condition that he drop his civil lawsuit against the city. The officer is tried and convicted (by a jury) of having feloniously assaulted the student. Subsequently that conviction is overturned by a judge who refuses to offer any explanation for her action. Source. Something is obviously very wrong…but what that is, exactly, is obscure, and addressing the flaw is literally impossible.

Coincidental: today’s copy of the Los Angeles Times has this headline on its front page: “Jail probe moves to ‘big fish’; Convicted lower-level sheriff’s officials are testifying before grand jury, sources say”. Imposing decency on officialdom is a difficult, essential, and eternal task.

Competing elites

Police officers in the USA include a large number of excellent defenders of the public…and some thugs. That will never change because Utopia is not attainable. That said, it is clear that US law enforcement is, overall, admirable. Most other nations would be lucky to have the USA’s cops.

At present, there is a confrontation of sorts between two powerful segments of US society. The first endorses the misbehavior of the minority of cops who exceed their authority. The law enforcement and jurisprudential/governmental sectors can and on occasion do react inappropriately to quash accusations of malpractice and brutality. Because this elite is institutional, it is often extremely powerful. Its steely intransigence too often rebuffs abused citizens, creating deep and bitter resentment.

The opposing elite is made up of groups that are often mutually antagonistic. It includes cynical opportunists like Al Sharpton, decent citizens who advocate constitutional governance, and vile incendiaries who call for the mass murder of police officers.

Here’s an example of anti-police fascism.

The most effective responses to the two elites

The citizenry should oppose bad policing and bad reactions to it. When the police misbehave, the proper response is never a riot. “No justice, no peace” is an evil slogan that corrodes a civilized mentality; it argues not for a replacement of bad government with good government, but for an existence that Hobbes described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Good laws and their proper enforcement are available, and the US federal constitution is their founding inspiration.

Accordingly, do know and understand the law in your area. For example, do you live in a stop-and-identify state? Arizona is one, while California is not. Ignorance of the law invites abuse by law enforcement.

Vote to put good people in positions of authority. Join rational organizations that defend your rights; file complaints as needed; take legal action when it appears to offer effective remedies for abuses.

Express your opinions. Where criticism is ineffective, censored, or discouraged, the worst elements of society find support for inordinate reactions (such as rioting, arson, vandalism, and looting) to bad governance.

Important addendum: Sheriff Joe Arpaio (located in the USA, state of Arizona, county of Maricopa, city of Phoenix) has a bad reputation among critics of the nation’s law enforcement community. By all means do investigate the report at this link.

Links Courtesy Of The Tramp Abroad

“Why I am not Charlie.” Very good editorial content.

Steven Brill on KQED has come up with an amazing eye-opener. Additional information here, and then a review.

Geert Wilders warns Australia.

Health alert: once you start using this stuff, you’re physically dependent on it. If you don’t get more of it within three days, you’re dead.

Fishing…Kiwi style.

More on MH-370.

Did you hear about these guys?

Trash, Arab Spring, sex, marriage, and divorce — all in one very interesting tale.

Now the feds can spend billions on other stupid things.

What?? Hugs disturb the peace in Istanbul?

Travel is not broadening — it’s subversive.

Even the Chinese are losing their patience with North Korea.

Hindsight is 20/20…and better late than never!

Der Spiegel has a very interesting article on the USA’s NSA.

Dinner for One, or, The 90th Birthday Party for Miss Sophie. This is a New Year tradition in Germany. It is said that half the population watches this sketch every 31 December at 18:30. (Video links: One and Two.) More information: in German, and in English. Then there is a 3 minute and 40 second summary and explanation of this TV phenomenon here.

Could this be true, or is it just a red herring — or possibly a trap?

This guy did a beary nice thing!

No, not all police are bad. One, Two, and Three.

Whether they want or not, they are going to teach and learn Ottoman Turkish! Watch out — the Sultan is returning. This has started a discussion of whether or not RTE can read/write/understand Ottoman Turkish (which is similar to modern Turkish, but strongly influenced by inclusion of Arabic, Persian and French (!) words; it’s written in the Arabic alphabet). A survey was taken of the 536 Turkish parliamentarians; 414 know English, 86 Arabic and 11 Farsi (Persian) and only one (1) knows Ottoman Turkish — he used to be the Head of the Turkish Institute of History. The complete list is under these links (in Turkish, but anyone should be able to understand): One, and Two. The jury is still out whether or not RTE himself can even read/write/speak Ottoman Turkish…. In any event, he is one very thin-skinned politician!

This journalist/commentator had better watch out or he might soon find himself sitting in the hoosegow with some of his contemporaries. But he does make a point in a humorous way.

I was thinking about this when the announcement came that diplomatic ties with Cuba are going to be restored.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a pen and ink, color comic strip must be worth almost as much as a book.

When someone yells at you, it is not always a bad thing. It can have a positive result. BTW, I love reading the comments that follow these videos — e.g., “I am no proctologist, but I know an asshole when I see one.”

Here is a list of common computer terminology expressed in Ottoman Turkish. Most of the terminology used in Turkish is actually English, although there are a few Turkish words, e.g., çift tıklama (double-click), görev çubğu (task bar), hata raporu (error report), ekran (screen), kasa (case), klavye (keyboard).

Now I know why I prefer foamy beer…there is less spillage!

The painter of the century is without a doubt Wolfgang Beltracchi, Der Meisterfälscher (the Master Forger), who really understands the Art of Forgery. He was caught not because he made a mistake in style, rather because he used some titanium white paint with a pigment that did not exist at the time the artist Heinrich Campendonk was painting. The source is 60 Minutes, which is in English. The rest is in German, but still worth a look.

I’m certainly looking forward to March 14, 2015 @ 9:26:53. How about you?

Holy Moly, what a story! This would make a great script for a film! The entire story, in two parts, in English. This summary is in German; then here are two reports, both in German: One and Two. (Ed.: The Tramp is right! This story is valuable.)

Here’s a follow-up to the earlier dispatch about the City of Kartal where food and water dispensing machines are set up for the street animals. An estimable German gentleman, one Christian Feiland, has set up a portal to enable animal lovers in Istanbul to coordinate and help the street animals. Note that he praises the Municipality of Istanbul for sterilizing and vaccinating the street animals — at no charge.

Are Energizer and Duracell ripping the customer off? Bottom line: paying for the name (brand) is not money well spent. Read the facts in English; it’s a very detailed British test. Then there’s this and this for US American consumers. Here’s more battery info. Finally, battery data in German.

Jürgen Todenhöfer reports from inside the IS territory. Links: One, Two. It seems as if this impressive guy could probably provide better intelligence about what is going on there than anyone from the CIA, BND, FSS, Mossad and others combined…. (Ed.: And he’s old — almost a year older than I!)

I reckon all is forgiven now, or the memories of V-2s falling on Coventry have faded away. Or perhaps it is not in the genetic make-up Anglo-Saxons to be Ewiggestrige. Link. (Ed.: You might not recall that it means “those who live eternally in yesterday”. You are welcome.)

German food in London, here and here, as well.

Has the retaliation started already? Link A. Then good points are made at Link B.

Fourteen facts (in German) about North Korea.

If only more fathers would spend some time with their kids like this. Learning about physics can be fun!

A video shows that Turkey is a country of opposites and contrasts. The Designs Oda company was (apparently) awarded a contract to decorate the Kadıköy area of Istanbul for the 2015 New Year celebrations.

Sure, some Poms are violently enthusiastic about soccer (“football”), and the lionized players can be full of themselves — but this is vicious lunacy. Shame!

Ordinary Links

Do you need a good laugh? Whatever your political preferences, this ought to brighten your day. It’s a universal laughingstock: you can laugh at it, or at its targets — or at both.

A hat tip goes to reader JW for this bizarre story on AP in North Korea. If anybody can show the North Koreans how to report the news, AP can. Its history is replete with examples of, well, clever reporting.

Reader JY gets a tip of the hat for suggesting commentary on the interest Pope Francis takes in the political implications of climate.

The hasty departure of the bin Laden family from the USA just after the destruction of the World Trade Center has always been a conspiracist’s inspiration. Now that the USA produces enough petroleum, it’s time to clarify matters.

From this newsletter’s Bitter Sarcasm desk: Al Qaeda suggests attacks on US airliners, and tells its members how to avoid being killed by drones. Wow, two huge surprises! What next? — Oh, yeah, that transparent nonsense again. And Pakistan’s ISI did not know where bin Laden was….

Holland copes with colonialist Islam.

Geert Wilders has been naughty: he insists on thinking.

Sometimes observation and measurement challenge existing explanations. The first response of the authorities is usually to ignore those embarrassing events. Here’s an instance.

Is global warming on its way? No. Have a look at the genuine future.

Competing idiots: stupid, and even more stupid. No surprises, though, for Kerry wins the Goofus Prize yet again….

This newsletter generally sides more with Sen. Rand Paul than with Sen. Marco Rubio. Here is partisan commentary that makes some good points as it sides with Rubio. Recommended. Then there’s this outspoken rhetoric….

How will history regard Henry Kissinger? For one view, watch this video from 3 minutes, four seconds (3:04) to 7:22. In that segment, Christopher Hitchens has his say and reminds everyone of his book. Regardless of Hitchens’s views, it is clear that no one who has ever received the Nobel Peace Prize deserved it less than did Kissinger and his co-laureate, Le Duc Tho (who declined the award).