Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 38,242
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 38,242
'Where the Motherland Begins' weirdly shows Snowden character as a mole in the U.S. since childhood.
The planned Oliver Stone film about National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden—played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt—and his quest for asylum in Russia, is still being shopped around to Hollywood studios and won’t start shooting for another three months. In the meantime, however, a thinly fictionalized version of the Snowden story just premiered on Russian television as part of an eight-episode spy drama, Where the Motherland Begins. And it has a peculiar twist, which implies that since he was a child, the former NSA contractor was, in a sense, groomed by a Russian intelligence agent.
Most of the miniseries—which aired from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 on Channel One, Russia’s leading state-controlled channel—actually takes place in the mid-1980s and is a dramatization of that era’s U.S.-Soviet spy wars. But the story of “James Snow,” a fugitive former CIA/NSA contractor who disclosed classified information about U.S. surveillance of telephone and Internet communications worldwide, is the framing device that opens and concludes the main plot.
The miniseries begins in “Hong Kong, July 2013,” with a giant screen showing a news report on the whereabouts of Snow, rumored to be seeking asylum in Russia. Cut to Snow himself, watching the segment on a MacBook aboard a charter jet and looking like a somewhat hotter version of Snowden, right down to the trademark eyeglasses. At this point, there is a detour into a subtle-as-a-brick reference to current events: an expert on the news, introduced as “Oxbridge University” political scientist Jonathan Chadwick (and speaking what is meant to pass for British English), opines that the United States is likely to engineer some drastic distraction by way of damage control after Snow’s revelations. Such as, say… a war in Europe, most likely in a former Soviet republic bordering with the European Union? “I won’t be surprised if Washington attempts to play a tried-and-true card of the ‘Red Threat,’” intones Professor Chadwick while a worried Snow stares at the screen. “The Americans could pull their longtime geopolitical rival, Russia, into a major scandal such as a local military conflict, and then organize and lead a new crusade against Russia.” You don’t say.
This stunning analysis is interrupted by the arrival of a dumpy, unshaven older man in a gray suit—Snow’s curator from Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, who wants to chat. “Your mom’s name was Vera—Vera Finley, yes?” he says. Snow, played by Lithuanian-born Arnas Fedaravičius and actually sounding plausibly American, looks more startled than he should be. “I see you did your homework,” he replies. Mr. FSB also knows that Vera died in a car accident twenty years ago, when Snow was seven, and that Snow was raised by an uncle, Nick Storm, who turned up about a year later. Hasn’t he ever wondered where Uncle Nick had been until then? “I asked him about it once,” says Snow. “He said it wasn’t the time to talk about it.” Well, now’s the time, says his curator.
Posted by Blue_Tires | Sun Oct 12, 2014, 04:58 PM (1 replies)
This month is the 10-year anniversary of my first online threat. I thought it was a one-off, then. Just one angry guy. And it wasn’t really THAT bad. But looking back, it was the canary in the coal mine… the first hint that if I kept on this path, it would not end well. And what was that path? We’ll get to that in a minute.
Later I learned that the first threat had nothing to do with what I actually made or said in my books, blog posts, articles, and conference presentations. The real problem — as my first harasser described — was that others were beginning to pay attention to me. He wrote as if mere exposure to my work was harming his world.
But here’s the key: it turned out he wasn’t outraged about my work. His rage was because, in his mind, my work didn’t deserve the attention. Spoiler alert: “deserve” and “attention” are at the heart.
A year later, I wrote a light-hearted article about “haters” (the quotes matter) and something I called The Koolaid Point. It wasn’t about harassment, abuse, or threats against people but about the kind of brand “trolls” you find in, say, Apple discussion forums. My wildly non-scientific theory was this: the most vocal trolling and “hate” for a brand kicks in HARD once a critical mass of brand fans/users are thought to have “drunk the Koolaid”. In other words, the hate wasn’t so much about the product/brand but that other people were falling for it.
I was delighted, a few weeks’ later, to see my little “Koolaid Point” in Wired’s Jargon Watch column.
The me of 2005 had no idea what was coming.
Less than two years later, I’d learn that my festive take on harmless brand trolling also applied to people. And it wasn’t festive. Or harmless. Especially for women...
I'm not trying to deflect your attention away from this incredibly wonderful essay, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the person in question is buddy-buddy with you guessed it, Glenn Greenwald (he certainly does keep some odd company, if I may be so bold...)
Posted by Blue_Tires | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 11:18 PM (1 replies)
Ex-Blackwater Chief Urges Hired Guns to Take on ISIS
The man who founded and ran Blackwater—the company that sent thousands of private workers into Afghanistan and Iraq—says President Barack Obama should hire a mercenary corps to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.
“The American people are clearly war-fatigued,” writes Erik Prince, now the chairman of Frontier Services Group, a company that provides logistical support for much of Africa. “If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job.”
Some Americans might be willing to write private fighters a check (Prince himself has reportedly been linked to developing a mercenary force for the United Arab Emirates). But Blackwater—which earned more than $1 billion in Iraq—shows the dangers inherent with subcontracting out war. Its guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007; a jury continues to deliberate the fate of four ex-employees implicated in the shooting.
One of its top officials in the Iraqi capital allegedly threatened to kill a State Department employee who had questions about its contracts with the U.S. government. And U.S. military officers routinely grumbled about the lack of “unity of command” that Blackwater’s presence in Iraq created. But that wouldn’t be a problem if there were no U.S. troops around.
Prince sold Blackwater Worldwide in 2010. The company changed its name to Xe a year before he sold it, and changed it again, to Academi, in 2011. In June, Academi merged with rival firm Triple Canopy to form Constellis Holdings, Inc. Constellis’ board includes John Ashcroft, attorney general under President George W. Bush, Bobby Ray Inman, a retired admiral and former director of the National Security Agency, and Jack Quinn, counselor to President Bill Clinton.
Lowlife fuckin' scumbag piece of shit...
Posted by Blue_Tires | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 10:52 PM (4 replies)
Snowden's girlfriend just caught a commercial flight to Moscow and has been living with him since July and it was completely unknown by almost everyone up to now, without the Russian media or the NSA getting wise?? Do I have that correct??
Yet Mr. Counterintelligence IT expert/CIA-trained über-field agent is "stuck" there hopelessly and dependent on the kindness of strangers?
Doesn't quite add up to me, at least...
Are mom and dad also planning to make the move soon, or are they already over there and being hidden for the next big reveal?
Posted by Blue_Tires | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 09:10 PM (5 replies)
Heavy Meta: Maine Man, 19, Poses For New Mug Shot Wearing T-Shirt With Photo Of His Old Mug Shot
In a marvelously meta moment, a 19-year-old last week posed for a jail booking photo while wearing a t-shirt with a reproduction of the mug shot taken of him after a June arrest for drunk driving.
Robert Burt was busted for operating under the influence and driving without a license. Burt, a resident of the central Maine town of Pittsfield, posed for a June 14 booking photo (seen below) at the Somerset County Jail. He was wearing a white t-shirt and held a slate in his right hand.
After copping a drunk driving plea, Burt was ordered to spend two days in custody, beginning August 8 at 6 PM. “Going to do my 48 hours whoo,” Burt announced on Facebook two hours before surrendering.
When he later arrived at the jail, Burt was searched, directed to pose for a mug shot, and shown to a cell. He was especially prepared for the booking photo session.
Posted by Blue_Tires | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 12:37 PM (5 replies)
One of three newly announced Nobel Prize winners plies his trade in Northern Virginia.
Eric Betzig, 54, has worked at the Ashburn campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2005.
He has spent much of his career working to develop powerful microscopes. On Wednesday, he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing a microscope that allows scientists to view living cells at a molecular level, at resolutions previously thought unattainable.
The institute said Betzig was in Munich when the announcement was made.
In an online video describing his invention, Betzig urged scientists to stray from the beaten path. He said he became so frustrated with the structure of academic science that he left academia altogether and worked for his dad's machine tool company for several years.
Posted by Blue_Tires | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 12:46 AM (1 replies)
25 year veteran Elementary Teacher Pam Aister was fired this week by the Fountain Hills Arizona School District after breaking up an incident of Racial Bullying by Four Students against one other.
“He was called the n-word, ‘monkey’, and ‘coon,’ Aister told KNXV.
Ainster told KTAR-FM that she also said to the group, “If you’re picking on him, you’re picking on me. It’s not five against one, it’s five against two, and there will be no more taunting, teasing or racial names.”
But parents of the alleged offenders claim that Ainster used abusive language telling them to "shut up" and that one had an "ugly face", an allegation that Ainster denies. In the end the School Board, following the recommendation of their attorney, voted to terminate Ainster on the basis of reports from the parents.
Isn't it an interesting world, assuming Ainster's claims are essentially true and even that the counter claims against her are valid, where a pack of bigoted bullies can rely on their parents to protect and escalate their bullying in order to remove a teacher whose primary crime was to stand up against their racist taunting - even if somewhat vehemently - in order to protect and defend a vulnerable child?
How would you hope the teacher of your children would react in this situation?
Posted by Blue_Tires | Fri Oct 10, 2014, 04:20 PM (8 replies)
The two Austrian teenagers who became poster girls for the jihad in Syria are now desperate to come home after becoming disillusioned with their new lifestyles.
Samra Kesinovic, 17, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, who grew up in Vienna and enjoyed the freedom to wear whatever they wanted and to meet whoever they wanted, were told by radical preacher Ebu Tejma at a local mosque about the evils of their lifestyle. Clerics persuaded the girls that the only way to know true peace was to head to Syria and take part in the holy war.
The twohad started lecturing classmates about their lifestyles and were even suspected of a vandalism attack at their school that called for jihad.
When they left Vienna in April, they almost certainly had somebody helping them to get out of the country, police said. They left behind a note telling their parents: "Don't look for us. We will serve Allah — and we will die for him."
But once they had arrived, they were married off to local fighters. Both are now believed to be pregnant.
Police in Austria said the girls' social media accounts were taken over and manipulated to broadcast fake messages about their new lives, and that Kesinovic and Selimovic have been used to encourage other young women to head to Syria.
And earlier story about the teens here:
Posted by Blue_Tires | Fri Oct 10, 2014, 02:52 PM (11 replies)
There is no higher praise these days than being data-driven. A person who is data-driven is free of bias, and cuts through arguments with a sword of truth. No longer do we need to fumble through life. The answers will come. We will know how to respond, just what to do. We will let the data tell us!
And so it goes with Christian Rudder’s new book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), a synopsis of insights he gleaned from analytics while working at the company he co-founded, OKCupid. His company, he tells us, could easily sport the tagline “Making the Ineffable Totally Effable.” Indeed, his book sets out to do this, yielding some gainful insights on dating expectations, along with other, more unsurprising findings: Men like younger women (no duh). These data are amusing, even charming.
But something more is at risk. What is troubling here, as we enter the Age of Big Data, the Age of the Internet, and the like, is that we are also entering an Age of the Axiomatic.
To be axiomatic, at its best, is to be deductive, but at its worst, it is to assume that a system is consistent and complete. For instance, in the field of genetics, we can look at aggregate data from 100,000 patients to deduce a mutation that is apt to cause a disease in any single patient. That is the power of deductive logic. But in assuming the system of logic is complete, we may fail to anticipate alternate causes, in this case “epigenetic” or biological mechanisms beyond DNA. Axioms work well in the realm of pure numbers and physics, but they are often superficially applied to biology, and especially so when applied to the social sciences.
Exactly the point we assume the data of a system to be both consistent and complete. This is when axiomatic logic at its most naďve and dangerous.
This dangerous kind of axiomatic logic is pronounced when we assume that a user is a collection of “data points” with a consistent or complete identity. In fact, online-dating services are notoriously complicated by users’ own impossible burden of fully representing themselves in a two-dimensional personality. Social media has struggled to contemplate the self-contradiction and inconsistency of its own users—to see them as more than flat profiles that can be targeted for advertising. Speaking of users who have multiple profiles, Mark Zuckerberg famously said “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Writer Curtis Sittenfeld quipped in The New York Times: “To which my only response is, 'You’ve got to be kidding.' I mean, I’m not even the same person with all the members of my immediate family.”
Posted by Blue_Tires | Fri Oct 10, 2014, 12:37 AM (8 replies)
To Raise, Love, and Lose a Black Child
Last Friday, I called Jordan Davis's mother Lucia McBath. It's been almost two years since her son was murdered by a man who took offense to his music. The murderer was Michael Dunn. After shooting the boy, Dunn drove to a motel with his girlfriend. He ordered pizza. He mixed a few cocktails. Then, the next day, he turned himself in and claimed that he was defending himself against a shotgun-wielding Davis. No shotgun was ever found. In his first trial, Dunn was convicted of attempted murder, for shooting—unjustifiably—at Davis's friends. He was not convicted of murdering Jordan Davis after the jury deadlocked. The state of Florida retried the case, and this time convicted Dunn of first-degree murder.
McBath and I had talked twice before and each time I'd found her to be a woman of direct and open feeling. The first time we talked she cried as she recounted the life of her lost son. The second time she stood before my son and insisted that he mattered, though all the powers of the world might tell him different. With wild theories of phantom shotguns now banished, I wanted to know how McBath felt and how she was filling the yawning space left by her departed son.
"I guess I'm speechless," she said. "Excited. Happy. It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted. But I definitely am waffling back and forth. I was elated about justice for Jordan, but I would prefer to have him here, thriving and growing. I wish that was my reality, but in light of everything this is the best I can get."
She told me that she'd taken the energy that she'd once put into child-rearing and given herself over to activism. She has set up a scholarship fund in her son's name. She is working with President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative.
"I've been working with them because my heart is for our people," she said, speaking of My Brother's Keeper. "My heart is for everyone, but I know that there is a lot of work that has to be done for my own people."
IMO, Coates has been on fire for pretty much all of 2014...
Posted by Blue_Tires | Fri Oct 10, 2014, 12:36 AM (5 replies)