The DNC hack and the limits of technology

Did you know that when the Russians reconquered Crimea in 2014 that they sent a lot of their messages by…messenger? The only way to know for sure your enemy doesn’t have a full read on all your movements.

The fact of the matter is that electronic communications and information storage are inherently vulnerable. By keeping everything in an electronic format, you potentially give away the whole house. Back in the Cold War or earlier days, a mole could steadily comb through archives and memos, gradually collecting intel, but there were real limits. For one, you needed your mole to be physically on site, requiring special training and a special personality who can operate under such stress. The mole would also be limited in which areas he or she could access and how much and how fast he could get said documents back to the home spy agency. Not so with modern communications. If you break into the DNC email system you have the whole email system, no need to break into individual offices.

My recent prediction that Crooked Hillary would be burned down by the Russians is looking better and better. This DNC leak, while not really connected to the crooked email server, is hard to overstate in terms of importance.  Not only did the DNC actively work against a popular candidate (and the Bern victims are pissed) they gave direct orders to media propagandists like Chuck Todd.

Julian Assange supposedly has dirt on satanic force we know as “Hillary Clinton” which will ensure its indictment. We will see what happens with that, but Assange, a likely Russian asset, is an obvious way for the Russian security people to leak what I suspect they’ve got on the Crooked One.

It’s fun to speculate as to how much Trump knew going into this. When asked if he’d met with Vladimir Putin, Trump said “I don’t want to say”. What kind of answer is that? I love it! Like obviously you met with him but you’re too much of a wonderful ass hole to answer the question straight. Maybe Putin told him they had enough to bring down Hillary, and if Trump would run with a policy of modernizing the NATO mission (i.e. ending it) Putin would use the dirt to help Trump, instead of blackmail Clinton. Who knows?

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Media gets played yet again

So one of the headlines today is that the sublimely elegant and supremely beautiful Melania Trump partly plagiarized Michelle Obama’s convention speech from 2008.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself if the Trump campaign would do something like this, just because they were too lazy to write an original speech. Does that sound reasonable?

I say no. What they’ve done is intentionally bait the media into making an issue over a “gotcha” thing. Has this worked in the last 13 months? Yet they still do it. Paul Manafort was hoping to get as many of these comparisons on TV and websites as possible:

comparison.PNG

This does two things: first, it reminds everyone how poised, pleasant and beautiful Melania is, which boosts Trump’s status. Next, while Michelle was fairly okay in her speech, it reminds people what a miserable ogre she’s become.

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History is moving

We live right now in the most interesting period, geopolitical and sociologically, of my life.

We have a resurgent Russian Empire, actively capturing territory and vassalizing former Soviet states through buyouts of state-owned companies (Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus). We have China colonizing Africa. The UK has repudiated the Fourth Reich, Austria and America stand to elect moderate nationalist parties/candidates, who while totally reasonable, are never-the-less ‘uge breaks with the consensus. Oh and France and Belgium are in the midst of a low-level Islamic insurgency, maybe that isn’t so interesting.

We seem to be witnessing a sort of generalized breakdown in social cohesion, across many countries. It shouldn’t be overstated, but something is going on. In America we have incredible polarization within the middleclass, huge gulfs in what people think is right and wrong and what the Good Life looks like. Venezuela, while not a particularly important country, is a failed state. Brazil seems also to be going through a period of mild chaos; though maybe this is just because US media are focused on the Olympics and showing us the trough in Brazil’s good-times/bad-times cycle.

It’s interesting that monetary policy has actually been pretty good through this ramp up in news intensity since 2014. Usually tight monetary policy begets social unrest, like Weimar Germany, but it’s not tight money that’s causing the issues but the supply side, insofar as economics are involved at all. Obviously money should be easier, but economic performance has been consistent for a while, especially in the US. If you look at the level of nonfarm payrolls, we don’t have to go too much longer and we’ll match the 1990s expansion in terms of stability of payroll expansion.

Capture

BoJ and ECB policy has been moving in the right direction since at least 2014 as well. The BoE is doing what I think you could call “a great job” “an ok job”. The Russians did exactly what they should have to weather the oil price collapse.

If the Front National wins the French elections, which I gather is really hard for them to do, but you never know, we stand to see the EU lose its number 2 and number 3 members within a few years, yet France lines up pretty well with ECB policy. Not predicting this, but it’s gone from a 2% probability to maybe 10% or 15%.

It’s a very interesting time to be a person who sits in front of a computer checking the news, what will happen next?

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Bloomberg News makes up economic laws

Bloomberg news has a hilariously lazy article up featuring this doozy of a quote:

In a post-Brexit world, the U.K. might be pursuing an impossible trinity: Independence from the European Union, free trade, and less immigration.

The impossible trinity comes from monetary economics. You can choose two of three, capital mobility, control of monetary policy, fixed exchange rate. This is just mathematics. A currency can have at more two values, one inside, and out outside the country, and that’s only if you’re will to put up a capital firewall around your country. But the quoted sentence above is something different.

Firstly, there’s no reason why the UK can’t be a normal country (i.e. not a German vassal in Deutsches Reich the EU), while also unilaterally pursuing free trade, while also having laws about who comes into the terribly over-populated island of Great Britain. These are independent policies, it’s not constrained system like in the true impossible trinity formulation. In fact, leaving the EU makes it possible. If you want free trade and a law-bound immigration policy, you must leave the EU.

Secondly, this sentence is just a quip they throw into the piece. It’s not connected to anything else. They make no effort to bolster it or help us understand what they mean. Bloomberg should hire me as a consultant to improve their editing, they can do better!

The rest of the piece is a rubbish pile of non sequiturs which aren’t worth going into.

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Cultural consequences of the post-Malthusian economy

Steven Pinker published a book a while back called The Better Angels of Our Nature wherein he makes the case that violence is declining, and has been for a while. Nassim Taleb has been waging a personal holy war against Pinker for this, because Taleb doesn’t like it when people make statistical inferences outside of physical science type settings. Taleb may or may not have a point, but I think it’s impossible to argue with Pinker’s observation vis-a-vis the historical record. Violence has declined in advanced and semi-advanced countries. In 1530 if people disagreed with your political or religious views, you might be drawn and quartered or burned at the stake. In 1780 you might be tarred and feathered or hanged. Today you’re fired from your job in an air conditioned office and subjected to the infamy of buying your clothes at Walmart instead of Banana Republic.

People are becoming less ornery because we are moving further away in time from the Malthusian period. I know I’ve said before that much of the economy is still Malthusian, but in a basic sense, the sense of food scarcity, of starving to death, we’re far from Malthusian. This moderates the animal nature.

The selection pressures the Malthusian world imposed have been gradually relaxed since 1800, rapidly so since 1980. As a result we’re shedding the cultural technology we used to navigate that harsh world. In 1960 they weren’t drawing and quartering, but normal middle class, white school boys were getting into fist fights regularly. When I was in school we had fights, I was even in a few, but they typically didn’t amount to a whole lot. A few punches, a ripped shirt, some groundless accusations of homosexuality. A black eye was rare. I imagine today that if 12 year old boys in a good school district got into a fight they’d be promptly put on Ritalin and testosterone blockers.

This story is why forming something a stupid as the EU was possible, and why a vassal state would be allowed to leave the Good Feels Reich off something as toothless as a referendum. In 1914 and 1939 a lot of people still knew what it was like to go hungry. In a world like that maybe it’s not quite as insane as it sounds to us today for countries like Germany, France and the UK to endure millions of men killed in war.  Germany lost something like 2.6 million men killed in the second world war, plus millions more subjected to severe hearing loss, PTSD and a decade or more of hard labor rebuilding the Soviet Union. Why would they sign up for that? I think it’s because they had a lot less to lose, Barbarossa would never have left the drawing board if they’d had Netflix and cheap international travel. A lesser version of this also explains why you could get the American public to go along with the Korean and Vietnam wars—the Great Depression kids were wearing the political pants in those days.

If the US military lost 30,000 of it’s transsexual, single mother and high-heel-wearing soldiers in a war today, we’d agree to almost any terms and give up. It’s almost impossible to imagine modern people withstanding horror on that scale, which is a sign of progress but also prefigures a Talebian tail risk. This is one of the many reasons I hope the fools in charge of our country don’t get us into a ground skirmish with Russia, we’ll get our asses handed to us with this post-modern Obama army. It’s nice to live in a post-Malthusian world, but post-Malthusians don’t stand much chance against those who’ve been tempered by a hard life.

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The UK hasn’t “left Europe”

I was listening to NPR this morning, which I do a fair amount, just to keep tabs on the direction of far left opinion in America. They had some lady on giving a saccharine lamentation about the UK “leaving Europe”. Those were literally her words: “the British voters are making us leave Europe“.

It’s bothered me for a while, how people will say “Europe” when they mean “The undemocratic body Cultural Marxists set up in the ’50s and ’60s to gradually undermine and integrate the nations of Europe” or just “the European Union”. Let’s get things straight: Europe is stretch of land. Everything west of the Urals, north of the Caucuses, east of Brittany, north of Andalucia.  It’s also cocontiguous with the outgrowths of ancient civilizations and cultures: the Greek civilization, the Indo-European culture, the medieval Christendom civilization.

You can decompose this demographic “Europe” into Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant or Slavic/Germanic/Latin/Celtic or whatever you like. There are a number of island next to this stretch of land. It’d be hard to say Crete or Sicily were not part of Europe. What about Iceland? I guess so, why not. What about Britain and Ireland? I don’t know. To me, Britain is an Anglo country, like Canada, Australia and the USA. It’s sort of not Europe, but it’s right next to it, and also sort of is Europe, it’s analogous to Russia in this way.

Whether you think Britain and Ireland should be classified in Europe doesn’t really matter. I wouldn’t argue hard either way, “it’s not a question that has an answer, just word play”. The point is that the UK can’t leave Europe if it wants to. It’s either part of Europe, geographically and culturally, in which case “leaving” would require a every one in the UK leave for somewhere else and the island be dug up dispersed into the North Sea. Or it isn’t part of Europe, in which case speaking of “leaving” a place you’re not in doesn’t make much sense.

Regardless of the political arrangements, in 2018 you’ll still be able to set out from London and fly to Moscow or Rome in a few hours. You’ll still be able to row a small boat from Sussex to Normandy if you’re enterprising. The EU ideologues have pulled an Orwellian fast one on us and changed the language so that we associate good things like “Europe” and “community” with their particular political arrangement. Let’s not let them do it.

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Gender bias in tech hiring

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