Canary in the Coal Mine

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


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“Surveillance capitalism,” she writes, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioural futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behaviour.”

First of all there was the arrogant appropriation of users’ behavioural data – viewed as a free resource, there for the taking. Then the use of patented methods to extract or infer data even when users had explicitly denied permission, followed by the use of technologies that were opaque by design and fostered user ignorance.

The combination of state surveillance and its capitalist counterpart means that digital technology is separating the citizens in all societies into two groups: the watchers (invisible, unknown and unaccountable) and the watched. This has profound consequences for democracy because asymmetry of knowledge translates into asymmetries of power. But whereas most democratic societies have at least some degree of oversight of state surveillance, we currently have almost no regulatory oversight of its privatised counterpart.

Nearly every product or service that begins with the word “smart” or “personalised”, every internet-enabled device, every “digital assistant”, is simply a supply-chain interface for the unobstructed flow of behavioural data on its way to predicting our futures in a surveillance economy.

Once we searched Google, but now Google searches us. Once we thought of digital services as free, but now surveillance capitalists think of us as free.... tālāk ... )

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

10:55PM - James Stavridis: Power Dynamics at Sea

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Saturday, January 12, 2019


"I anticipate a great deal of migration and movement in the future. Developed countries won’t have a choice, eventually: the current methods by which modern developed democracies structure socialized services, such as medical care and welfare for the elderly, are unsustainable without at least maintaining population levels.

Japan, for example, is beginning to face serious population issues because their elderly massively outnumber their youth — and the elderly disproportionately utilize social services and programs intended to benefit the disadvantaged. The United States has known about the sustainability issue within our Social Security program for decades: there are not enough young people to support the old. Europe is well-known for the extent of “socialized” services that the government provides, but also has the lowest birthrates in the world.

Developed countries are victims of their own success. Their large economies enable the elaborate social mechanisms we’ve developed to benefit our respective peoples... But neither the economy nor those service mechanisms are sustainable without sufficient workforce, and that same large economy disincentivizes high birth rates.

So what is the solution here? Developed countries have too few children, developing countries have too many, and the solution seems obvious.

The United States is suspected to have dipped below a 2.0 replacement-level birthrate since the last census, yet has successfully delayed this crisis through immigration policy. It’s hard to remember, given the current levels of political toxicity, but the United States still accepts more immigrants legally than any other country in the world. We don’t have to have high birthrates here; we can just benefit from other countries’ unsustainable growth and maintain our own economy in the meantime. Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have taken similar strategies.

But immigration isn’t the answer for everyone, unfortunately... because racism. Eastern Europe, suffering from both low birth rates and high levels of emigration, ironically finds their extant populations unwelcoming of migrants trying to do the same. The Japanese are so unwelcoming of other people that they’d literally rather build robots than welcome foreigners into Japan (and automation brings its own dilemmas). Western Europe opened its arms to refugees for many economic reasons, including alleviating their population issue — and the far-right is growing quickly there, feeding off of fears of immigrants.

These regions are doomed to growing pains until they figure out how to welcome external populations to boost their demographic imbalances. This next Great Migration is going to happen no matter what, and has probably already begun. Developed countries are going to need to figure out how to manage it to their benefit."

"Japan’s model is currently the poster child for a terrible demographic situation. There are some serious problems that they’ll need to face in the near future as a result of their demographics problem — a problem which other developed countries have better solved by letting other peoples in. Two pensioners for every worker? A debt-to-GDP ratio over 200%? A perilously low birth rate, even compared to other developed countries? Robots and automation may alleviate some of the labor burden on the young, but you just can’t automate hospice care. Yet, Japan insists on maintaining its ethnic makeup (over 98% ethnic Japanese) when importing Filipino nurses would work just as well, and contribute to solving all of the above."

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“Vai, mīļe! Nu jou kād’ trīsdesmit gād’ jūr’ nou redzējs, kouč jūr’ tepat aiz kartapeļ’ vāg. Tur dzeloņdrāt’ žoge un jūr’ i tāl apakše. Lab’, ka ar Diev’ palīg’ es var’ dzierdet, ka jūr’ krāc.”

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Monday, January 7, 2019

6:23PM - Reflections of a Russian statesman

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5:54PM - NBA, diakritiskās zīmes un pašcieņa

... kad Biedriņam ir vairāk pašcieņas kā Porziņģim )

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

7:04PM - Are Index Funds Communist? (Matt Levine)

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Friday, January 4, 2019

5:37PM - Sam Vaknin: the toxicity of social media

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

11:12AM - James Rickards on “THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY SYSTEM” for Icon Lecture Series 2018

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Sunday, December 30, 2018


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10:26PM - Geopolitics matter

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Monday, December 24, 2018


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Friday, December 21, 2018

6:38PM - Adults in the room

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

8:44PM - Harry Dent And The Great Reset!

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Monday, December 17, 2018

11:00PM - Gatis

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

3:01PM - Zolitūdes traģēdija

Hammurabi's code (~1700 BC) includes this about building:

229. If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction sound, and the house which he has built collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house, the builder shall be put to death.

233. If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction sound, and a wall cracks, that builder shall strengthen that wall at his own expense.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

1:33PM - George Friedman on Intermarium

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

8:09PM - "Folks, we're back in the 1930s."

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1:29PM - Peter Zeihan (2018, November)

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

8:40PM - The Necessity of Nationalism | George Friedman

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8:35PM - Operation InfeKtion

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018


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Tuesday, November 27, 2018


"[T]he political realm is where Soros has made his most audacious wager. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the former Soviet-bloc countries to promote civil society and liberal democracy. It was a one-man Marshall Plan for Eastern Europe, a private initiative without historical precedent. It was also a gamble that a part of the world that had mostly known tyranny would embrace ideas like government accountability and ethnic tolerance. In London in the 1950s, Soros was a student of the expatriated Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, who championed the notion of an “open society,” in which individual liberty, pluralism and free inquiry prevailed. Popper’s concept became Soros’s cause.

It is an embattled cause these days. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has reverted to autocracy, and Poland and Hungary are moving in the same direction. With the rise of Donald Trump in the United States, where Soros is a major donor to Democratic candidates and progressive groups, and the growing strength of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe, Soros’s vision of liberal democracy is under threat in its longtime strongholds. Nationalism and tribalism are resurgent, barriers are being raised and borders reinforced and Soros is confronting the possibility that the goal to which he has devoted most of his wealth and the last chapter of his life will end in failure."

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Friday, November 23, 2018

9:29PM - Populārākais latviešu YouTuberis?

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

7:38PM - Jeff Faux in 2006 wrote this

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5:18PM - Medical System in Ukraine - Dr Henry Marsh

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018


"Progress is sometimes a regress in disguise. Like in the Futurama episode where Bender finds a phone booth: "Now I don't need to carry my phone with me all the time!""

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5:26PM - curriculum vitae

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Pasauli drīz gaida kārtējais lielais karš. Discuss.

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3:31PM - Weak-minded infantile human puppies

"[H]aving an analytical thinking style and being non-religious – that tend to correlate with accepting the scientific consensus, but this is the first time that researchers have systematically studied people’s open-ended reasoning about controversial scientific topics. The results show that for many people, there are certain issues for which the truth is less about facts and more about faith and identity.

[T]he most common justifications people gave for their positions on the controversial issues were to simply re-state or qualify their belief – what the researchers called a non-justification, which made up 34 per cent of all responses. Among the actual justifications, the most common kind, making up 33 per cent of all responses, was to cite evidence – a promising result. However, 20 per cent of justifications were subjective and involved making a reference to one’s cultural identity, personal experience or fallacious reasoning."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

6:39PM - Oracle’s Larry Ellison: Democratic systems vs. Communist systems

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

2:22PM - Gulf of Riga: The True Story of The Hunt For Red October

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

12:42PM - The extraordinary achievements of Yuri Totrov

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Monday, November 5, 2018


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Friday, November 2, 2018

9:51PM - 10 Reasons Why You Should Sell Your Silver And Invest In The Zimbabwe Currency

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Monday, October 29, 2018


"The next war, if that ever comes, will not cross the border but [target] strategically important sites in the interior. The war will be started by small groups of people already smuggled in. That is why we have to take care of the law as well as…national defense," he wrote.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018


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Thursday, October 25, 2018


“ГРУ – это на самом деле большой наркокартель”

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

9:53PM - WTF

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Turns out the Amish make a distinction between using something and owning it. The Old Order won’t own a pickup truck, but they will ride in one. They won’t get a license, purchase an automobile, pay insurance, and become dependent on the automobile and the industrial-car complex, but they will call a taxi.

What about post-modern innovations like credit cards? A few Amish got them, presumably for their businesses at first. But over time the bishops noticed problems of overspending, and the resultant crippling interest rates. Farmers got into debt, which impacted not only them but the community since their families had to help them recover (that’s what community and families are for). So, after a trial period, the elders ruled against credit cards.

One Amish-man told me that the problem with phones, pagers, and PDAs (yes he knew about them) was that “you got messages rather than conversations.” That’s about as an accurate summation of our times as any.

(..) But the bishops also noticed that the cell phone was so small it could be kept hidden, which was a concern for a people dedicated to discouraging individualism. Ten years ago when I was editing Wired I sent Howard Rheingold to investigate the Amish take on cell phones. His report published in January 1999 makes it clear that the Amish had not decided on cell phones yet. Ten years later they are still deciding, still trying it out. This is how the Amish determine whether technology works for them. Rather than employ the precautionary principle, which says, unless you can prove there is no harm, don’t use new technology, the Amish rely on the enthusiasm of Amish early adopters to try stuff out until they prove harm.

For being off the grid, without TV, internet, or books, the Amish are perplexingly well-informed. There’s not much I could tell them that they didn’t know about, and already had an opinion on. And surprisingly, there’s not much new that at least one person in their church has not tried to use. The typical adoption pattern went like this:

Ivan is an Amish alpha-geek. He is always the first to try a new gadget or technique. He gets in his head that the new flowbitzmodulator would be really useful. He comes up with a justification of how it fits into the Amish orientation. So he goes to his bishop with this proposal: “I like to try this out.” Bishop says to Ivan, “Okay Ivan, do whatever you want with this. But you have to be ready to give it up, if we decide it is not helping you or hurting others.” So Ivan acquires the tech and ramps it up, while his neighbors, family, and bishops watch intently. They weigh the benefits and drawbacks. What is it doing to the community? Cell phone use in the Amish began that way. According to anecdote, the first Amish alpha geeks to request permission to use cell phones were two ministers who were also contractors. The bishops were reluctant to give permission but suggested a compromise: keep the cell phones in the vans of the drivers. The van would be a mobile phone shanty. Then the community would watch the contractors. It seemed to work so others early adopters picked it up. But still at any time, even years later, the bishops can say no.

(..) They all recognize the line keeps moving, but a line must remain. My impression is that the Amish are living about 50 years behind us. They don’t adopt everything new but what new technology they do embrace, they take up about half a century after everyone else does. By that time, the benefits and costs are clear, the technology stable, and it is cheap.

The Amish are steadily adopting technology — at their pace. They are slow geeks. As one Amish man told Howard Rheingold, “We don’t want to stop progress, we just want to slow it down,” But their manner of slow adoption is instructive.

1) They are selective. They know how to say “no” and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
2) They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
3) They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
4) The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.

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"Your brain is an existence proof that 20W is sufficient for a full human-level general intelligence. Einstein is no more energy intensive than a village idiot."

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"Someone in the Soviet leadership realized that the general secretary was going off the rails"

"Mr. Andropov knew what Mr. Kissinger did not: Mr. Brezhnev had developed an addiction to sleeping pills that, combined with alcohol, was undermining his ability to think straight. Mr. Andropov learned of the addiction weeks before the war in the Middle East but refused to intervene. Mr. Brezhnev’s erratic behavior during the war convinced Mr. Andropov of the dangers of inaction."

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Monday, October 15, 2018


“The Russians are adept at identifying Ukrainian positions by their electrometric signatures,” Army Col. Liam Collins wrote in the August issue of Army Magazine.

“In one tactic, soldiers receive texts telling them they are ‘surrounded and abandoned.’ Minutes later, their families receive a text stating, ‘Your son is killed in action,’ which often prompts a call or text to the soldiers. Minutes later, soldiers receive another message telling them to ‘retreat and live,’ followed by an artillery strike to the location where a large group of cellphones was detected.”

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

1:00PM - Немцо́в

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12:06PM - TIL

"Nixon was suffering from mental illness and taking daily medication without a prescription. He was under heavy stress from the Watergate scandal. Schlesinger (Secretary of Defence) ordered military not to react to orders from the White House unless he cleared them first. Nixon ordered bombing raids that were silently canceled by Kissinger."

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Thursday, October 11, 2018


A hacker army has systematically undermined practically every sector of Ukraine: media, finance, transportation, military, politics, energy. Wave after wave of intrusions have deleted data, destroyed computers, and in some cases paralyzed organizations’ most basic functions. “You can’t really find a space in Ukraine where there hasn’t been an attack,” says Kenneth Geers, a NATO ambassador who focuses on cybersecurity.

But many global cybersecurity analysts have a much larger theory about the endgame of Ukraine’s hacking epidemic: They believe Russia is using the country as a cyberwar testing ground—a laboratory for perfecting new forms of global online combat.

[..] The infection had triggered the same boot-record overwrite technique to brick the machines just as staffers were working to prepare a morning TV news bulletin ahead of the country’s local elections.... tālāk ... )

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