Russian Hackers? Nah. Three kids playing hardball in Minecraft

To the average person, the Internet is just magic. They have no clue how it works or how you can mess with it. That ignorance makes it easier for TPTB to create boogeymen, like "Russian Hackers". But, techies, sometimes, are more interested in the facts instead of politics. Hence, this interesting story about the Mirai botnet in Wired Magazine (which I have called "Hacker of Fortune" since the day it was founded).

The most dramatic cybersecurity story of 2016 came to a quiet conclusion Friday in an Anchorage courtroom, as three young American computer savants pleaded guilty to masterminding an unprecedented botnet—powered by unsecured internet-of-things devices like security cameras and wireless routers—that unleashed sweeping attacks on key internet services around the globe last fall. What drove them wasn’t anarchist politics or shadowy ties to a nation-state. It was Minecraft.

How a Dorm Room Minecraft Scam Brought Down the Internet

The Wired story is very solid investigative technical reporting. It is a readable, if somewhat lengthy, whodunit. If you have ten minutes, it is worth a read. The rest of the quotes are from that story.

The story is about the tech itself, and Russian hacking only comes in for an incidental mention:

Coming just weeks before the presidential election—one in which US intelligence officials had already warned about attempts by Russia to interfere—the Dyn and Mirai attacks led officials to worry that Mirai could be harnessed to affect voting and media coverage of the election. The FBI team scrambled for a week afterward with private-industry partners to secure critical online infrastructure and ensure that a botnet DDoS couldn’t disrupt Election Day.

What is really fascinating about the story is the monster that the Minecraft ecosystem has evolved into:

The huge income from successful (Minecraft) servers had also spawned a mini cottage industry of launching DDoS attacks on competitors’ servers, in an attempt to woo away players frustrated at a slow connection. (There are even YouTube tutorials specifically aimed at teaching Minecraft DDoS, and free DDoS tools available at Github.) Similarly, Minecraft DDoS-mitigation services have sprung up as a way to protect a host’s server investment. The digital arms race in DDoS is inexorably linked to Minecraft, Klein says.

...according to court documents, the primary driver behind the original creation of Mirai was creating "a weapon capable of initiating powerful denial-of-service attacks against business competitors and others against whom White and his coconspirators held grudges.”

After a year of Russian hacker hysteria, the fact is that three non-state-actors were the perps for one of the few genuine (as opposed to media crapola, like the Vermont power company "hack") and truly dangerous hacks of the recent past. I predict this story will get no further coverage. The circumstance that the trial happened to be held in Anchorage, Alaska will help keep it off the front page.

To drive home the point that the major hack was just another day on the Wild West Internet, we learn what the perps had been up to since then:

They’d given up DDoS attacks for something lower-profile—but also lucrative. They were using their botnet to run an elaborate click-fraud scheme—directing about 100,000 compromised IoT devices, mostly home routers and modems, to visit advertising links en masse, making it appear that they were regular computer users. They were making thousands of dollars a month defrauding US and European advertisers, entirely off the radar, with no one the wiser. It was, as far as investigators could tell, a groundbreaking business model for an IoT botnet. As Peterson says, “Here was a whole new crime that industry was blind to. We all missed it.”

"a groundbreaking business model for a botnet" - this is beyond Pottersville. This is gangsterism. It pulls back the curtain on what a dirty mess the non-dark internet is. Who needs the dark net when Minecraft is a trade school for hackers?

Every service the corporations force onto the internet, either to extract a fee or to gain control over users, is another can of gasoline that we slosh onto our civilization. One of these days someone is going to toss a match.

The lack of genuine, public interest regulation of a potentially proven dangerous technology has been caused by a techno-libertarian propaganda campaign praising the "freedom" of the internet. But, freedom for whom? Freedom for hacker crooks. Freedom for corporate tax dodgers, like Amazon.

What few cops are on the beat are either FBI folks, who see state actors when there are none, or corporate-funded security centers that are interested in protecting corporate property (i.e., the internet itself) and reputation - and not really worried about free speech or honest elections. This convergence of law enforcement and corporate security is another red line that no one seems to be tracking.

When WW3 comes, it will start on the internet. If we are lucky, all that will be blown up is our financial system and our libraries of data.

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33 users have voted.

Comments

detroitmechworks's picture

to a sparking, overloaded circuit breaker, then attempting to install feudal burden on top of that.

After all that's what the Net Neutrality fight is all about. Setting up little corporate fiefdoms to ensure that all those pesky criminals will be brought to justice...

Next step of course is not to actually take down bad actors. Next step is to ensure that the profits from the bad actors go to the right people, and that nobody touches the kings money.

Other than that, the PTB are content to let the corporations run the show as they please. They've already done the same with Patreon recently, forcing a new corporate fee structure on what was essentially an internet tip jar, minus a central dealer's cut...

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16 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@detroitmechworks Excellent comment.

We're tying too much of our infrastructure...
to a sparking, overloaded circuit breaker, then attempting to install feudal burden on top of that.

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8 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@detroitmechworks What's happening to Patreon is horrible, and I think aimed as much at censorship and media control as anything else.

I'm also noticing that my Amazon fire stick now tells me I won't be able to access YouTube through that device after Jan 1. I genuinely wonder why that is--haven't tried to find out yet--but it seems likely it's another attempt to squash indie media people and their audience.

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7 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

WoodsDweller's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
but I know Amazon owns Twitch. I suppose Amazon must have a movie streaming service of its own.

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4 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

snoopydawg's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

of it.

Amazon and Google fight over streaming, Google retaliates by blocking YouTube on Amazon devices

Two tech giants are in a messy streaming video fight.

Google on Tuesday said it would pull its YouTube apps from Amazon’s Echo Show, which is an Alexa-powered device with a screen, and Fire TV starting next month.

Why? Google pointed a finger at Amazon, which hasn’t been selling products from Google and other brands, such as from Google’s separate brand Nest.

Amazon also doesn’t allow Google products to have access to its Prime Video streaming service, the statement said.

“Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products,” the company said in a statement to the Post.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Another view of this

Google is using YouTube as leverage over Amazon to try and force the world’s largest retailer to sell its Home smart speakers, Chromecasts and Nest products.

Google has pulled official support for YouTube from Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV devices, meaning that owners can no longer access the video site through a YouTube app.

The quarrel originally became public in September when Google pulled YouTube access from the new Echo Show for “violating terms of service” saying that Amazon’s implementation of YouTube blocked what Google considered critical features.

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7 users have voted.

The western general public is so terminally zombified that false flag attacks can now be announced 4 weeks in advance

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@snoopydawg Thanks for the info--it's not as awful as I thought.
So rare these days that I can say that!

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1 user has voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

snoopydawg's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

You'll still be able to access YouTube from your stick, but you will have to go to its website to watch videos. Your stick should have a browser on it so you would get there from it. Big pain though.

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1 user has voted.

The western general public is so terminally zombified that false flag attacks can now be announced 4 weeks in advance

Hawkfish's picture

@detroitmechworks

My father was in tech and I’ve been programming since the 70s. I keep paper copies of everything.

I also still have a land line - one of the problems they had evacuating people during the recent Cali fires was that the cell towers were down. Land lines were designed during the Cold War. Nuff said!

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8 users have voted.

It's like two plus two equals fish! -- The Big Short

@detroitmechworks

Next step of course is not to actually take down bad actors. Next step is to ensure that the profits from the bad actors go to the right people, and that nobody touches the kings money.

Other than that, the PTB are content to let the corporations run the show as they please.

This is why I am no fan of Bitcoin. When the dust settles, the whole thing will be owned either by Wall St. or by the neoliberal clowns in government - two branches of the same Mafia. And the ordinary, non-player citizens will be at the mercy of an unstable, hackable distributed app that owes nothing to noone, and can be manipulated by the people with the majority of the bitcoins. Go check the stats on the concentration of bitcoin ownership. 4.1% of inet addresses owns 96.5% of bitcoins; and its not clear who owns the addresses. How f-ing democratic for this "disruptive" app.

For the last six months, plungers, speculators, and insiders have made a fortune off the Bitcoin landrush. But the landrush is over, and only a few obnoxious assholes (like the Winkelvoss twins) made a pile of money. Joe Blow, not so much.

Its the classic TPTB pattern: ignore something until it becomes profitable; then buy it out, and make money on the speculation as you do so.

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7 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt This is why I am no fan of Bitcoin. When the dust settles, the whole thing will be owned either by Wall St. or by the neoliberal clowns in government - two branches of the same Mafia.

that's always been my problem with it.
now I also have the problem that bitcoin may be reducing my lifespan by hastening global warming

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

I don't know if I'm more amazed at the genius of the 3 young "savants" or the stupidity of adding so many unsecured nodes on the net when default unique passwords would have more than likely mitigated the malware/worm from the get go. "Who could have known"? Derp!

I suspect the "savants" will be recruited by the NSA.

This also makes me wonder about the built in backdoors in operating systems, software, firmware, hardware, etc. etc. A huge potential botnet if needed?

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16 users have voted.
edg's picture

@JtC

You'll notice it's Russia not China that we target with sanctions and false accusations and war-mongering. There are too many Chinese chips in American equipment for us to risk doing anything that would make China pull the trigger on our electronic infrastructure.

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11 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@JtC My first thought was: jail time, or Fort Meade? Your choice, young man.

When the smart ones get caught, it amounts to a brain drain for the 99%.

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8 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@JtC

You mentioned:

the genius of the 3 young "savants"

The article agrees they were smart, but...

“These kids are super smart, but they didn’t do anything high level—they just had a good idea,” the FBI’s Walton says.

They were also good at security - which I expect is part of the basic computer curriculum these days.

“The actors were very sophisticated in their online security,” Peterson says. “I’ve run against some really hard guys, and these guys were as good or better than some of the Eastern Europe teams I’ve gone against.”

Again, I'm not sure if it makes a difference that

The vast majority of these Minecraft servers are being run by kids—you don’t necessarily have the astute business judgment in the quote-unquote ‘executives’ running these servers.”

As I read the story, these three were simply trying a new weapon against a Minecraft DDoS mitigation site, OVH, and they accidentally nuked it. Once they realized what they had, they went nuts with it. But, IMHO, they didn't plan this. It just happened. It was the faulty design of the IoT that turned a hack into a nuclear weapon.

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9 users have voted.

@JtC Popular Destinations rerouted to Russia

December 12, 2017
Early this morning (UTC) our systems detected a suspicious event where many prefixes for high profile destinations were being announced by an unused Russian Autonomous System.

Starting at 04:43 (UTC) 80 prefixes normally announced by organizations such Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitch, NTT Communications and Riot Games were now detected in the global BGP routing tables with an Origin AS of 39523 (DV-LINK-AS), out of Russia.
[...]

oops hope it was encrypted?
also,
https://bgpmon.net/bgpstream-and-the-curious-case-of-as12389/
and
https://bgpmon.net/bgp-leak-causing-internet-outages-in-japan-and-beyond

Whatever caused the incident today, it’s another clear example of how easy it is to re-route traffic for 3rd parties, intentionally or by accident. It also is a good reminder for every major ISP to filter customers.

~shrug~

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2 users have voted.

Bother.

WoodsDweller's picture

Botnet of IoT devices? Fucking brilliant. Give these guys 30 days of community service and $50 million in venture capital. All the horsepower and bandwidth they can use, slide pizza and beer under the door for two years, and see if they change the world.

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12 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@WoodsDweller I'm closer in my views to yours. And I'm usually a pretty big fan of civic responsibility and regulation.

These aren't normal times. It affects a person.

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7 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@WoodsDweller

This has been a growing plague I've been seeing warnings on for some time. And one that those producing 'smart' household devices should have been aware of and prepared their products and customers for.

What's up with these smart kitchen devices and the drive toward even just digital washing machines, etc.? What was wrong with turning a freaking easily fixable/replaceable, less-polluting dial? Oh, right, planned obsolescence and those all-important ever-increasing corporate/billionaire profits. Not to mention new opportunities to gather personal data on the public by everybody.

Do we really need these smart or even digital basic kitchen/general household gadgets - or, come to that, these giant corporations who 'can't afford not to' cost-cuttingly poison people and the environment, to pay taxes or a living wage to employees? If so, why? Do we really need the economy, ecology and the 99%'s lives wrecked that badly that we pay them to do it in all sorts of ways we can't afford?

What about the 'public/private' and other, government, agencies implanting and using vulnerabilities in our computers that any hacker can use and failing to warn the citizens - all of whom they intrude upon - of even vulnerabilities and threats that they didn't create themselves?

Why does the public have to support hired-at-public-expense literal enemies of The People,

who The People 'have to' pay out of public funding to spy on The People they deliberately make more vulnerable and place at hazard for that purpose,

who The People have to pay even when they fund/train/arm terrorists which the military - funded by and formed of The People - are to also fight as 'enemies of The People'

so that they also fail to warn The People about vulnerabilities and hazards created by others in case they want to use these themselves against The People paying them via public funding?

All of this was predictable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botnet

...The first botnet was first acknowledged and exposed by Earthlink during a lawsuit with notorious spammer Khan C. Smith[35] in 2001 for the purpose of bulk spam accounting for nearly 25% of all spam at the time.[citation needed]

Around 2006, to thwart detection, some botnets were scaling back in size.[36] ...

Also:

...One thing that's becoming more apparent is the fact that detecting automated bot attacks is becoming more difficult each day as newer and more sophisticated generations of bots are getting launched by attackers. For example, an automated attack can deploy a large bot army and apply brute-force methods with highly accurate username and password lists to hack into accounts. The idea is to overwhelm sites with tens of thousands of requests from different IPs all over the world, but with each bot only submitting a single request every 10 minutes or so, which can result in more than 5 million attempts per day.[34] In these cases, many tools try to leverage volumetric detection, but automated bot attacks now have ways of circumventing triggers of volumetric detection.

One of the techniques for detecting these bot attacks is what's known as "signature-based systems" in which the software will attempt to detect patterns in the request packet. But attacks are constantly evolving, so this may not be a viable option when patterns can't be discerned from thousands of requests. There's also the behavioral approach to thwarting bots, which ultimately is trying distinguish bots from humans. By identifying non-human behavior and recognizing known bot behavior, this process can be applied at the user, browser, and network levels. ...

https://security.radware.com/ddos-threats-attacks/threat-advisories-atta...

3/8/2017

The Need for Internet of Things Security: The Threat is Spreading Like Wildfire

Background

The publication of the Mirai botnet source code in late 2016 has resulted in two major outcomes:

The first - and most obvious – is it has given cybercriminals and perpetrators worldwide not only a functioning program for creating and operating botnets, but also a customizable one.
The second is that it has created a demand for Internet of Things security as it has demonstrated the sheer vulnerability of IoT devices and their operating systems to simple malware infection and enslavement attempts. Not only are the devices vulnerable, a large variety and number of devices are ALREADY infected.

Since the publication of the source code the need of Internet of Things security has increased. There has been a race to enslave more and more IoT devices by hackers and bot-herders. Though there are more than 6 billion connected devices today (and expected to grow to 20 billion by 2020i), there is a fierce competition between these hackers, leading to the introduction of malwares that can expunge other malwares from controlling the device. These devices facilitate espionage, data theft or launch massive DDoS attacks, and also scan other vulnerable devices and add them to the botnet.

The expanding list of devices is startling. It includes everything from routers, online cameras and DVRs to “smart” phones, watches, and TVs all the way to appliances such as toys, vending machines and even light bulbs. ...

Good job Obama *privatized Domain Names so that the public can't hold the company accountable...

https://www.telarus.com.au/news/solutions/security/the-internet-of-thing...

The Internet of Things and cyber-threats of 2017

26 Mar 2017

... The day our devices shut down the internet

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the phonebook service of the internet, and without it, nobody can find anything.

On October 21, 2016, a DDoS attack of unprecedented scale was launched against a major DNS infrastructure company, Dyn. With the DNS service unavailable, a swath of customers were unable to access major websites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Tumblr, Spotify, PayPal, Verizon, Comcast, and the PlayStation Network (PSN).

There is also no easy fix for an attack of this magnitude. Botnets are so colossal that security systems can’t ban individual IP addresses fast enough; they are so dispersed that blocking a specific geographical section is pointless.

So how was the staggering attack on Dyn achieved? Potentially, with an army of toasters.

Shortly after the botnet launched, Dyn reported “tens of millions” of messages from around the globe, sent by seemingly harmless, but internet-connected, devices including printers, IP cameras and baby monitors.

“It could be your DVR, it could be a CCTV camera, a thermostat. I even saw an internet-connected toaster on Kickstarter yesterday,” said Kyle York, Dyn’s chief strategy officer. ...

The rest of the following is particularly worth reading in full at source.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160819/07473935285/your-smart-power-...

(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Karl Bode

Tue, Aug 23rd 2016 6:32am

Your 'Smart' Power Outlets Are Now Botnets Thanks To The Internet Of Broken Things
from the I-just-hacked-your-stapler dept
Making fun of the Internet of Things has become a sort of national pastime, made possible by a laundry list of companies jumping into the space without the remotest idea what they're actually doing. When said companies aren't busy promoting some of the dumbest ideas imaginable, they're making it abundantly clear that the security of their "smart," connected products is absolutely nowhere to be found. And while this mockery is well-deserved, it's decidedly less funny once you realize these companies are introducing thousands of new attack vectors in every home and business network the world over.

Overshadowed by the lulz is the width and depth of incompetence on display. Thermostats that fail to heat your home. Door locks that don't protect you. Refrigerators that leak Gmail credentials. Children's toys that listen to your kids' prattle, then (poorly) secure said prattle in the cloud. Cars that could, potentially, result in your death. The list goes on and on, and it grows exponentially by the week.

The latest gift of the Internet of Things industry, revealed last week by security researchers at Bitdefender, is smart electrical sockets that can be hacked to hand over e-mail credentials, create a botnet, or (potentially) burn your house down by firing up connected appliances. The devices are sold as an amazing new tool to help create a connected home, allowing users to manage any device plugged into them via a smartphone and/or the internet. The problem, as usual, is an (unspecified) company that treated security as an afterthought. ...

Emphasis mine.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a23504/mirai-b...

By Eric Limer
Oct 21, 2016
5.3k

The internet was on shaky footing for the better part of Friday thanks to a large-scale attack on a company that runs a large portion of crucial internet infrastructure. It's still too early to know exactly who is behind the attack, but experts have begun to pin down which devices are doing the bulk of the work. It's not computers, but devices from the so-called Internet of Things. We're talking smart fridges, web cams, and DVRs. It may sound funny, being attacked by refrigerators, but don't laugh. It's actually horrifying.

The current assault against Dyn is one of the simplest in a hacker's playbook. The distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) doesn't require breaking into a target's computers or finding any secret weakness. Instead, it involves simply pummeling them with so much traffic they can't possibly keep up. Hackers executing a DDoS call upon millions of machines under their control and command them to ask the target for so many things all at once that the target all but melts down under the strain. ...

...Building a botnet can be a painstaking process. There are plenty of vulnerable computers in the world, but also plenty of people who take reasonably good care of their trusty phone or laptop, protecting it from infection. However, over the past five years or so, the Internet of Things has introduced millions upon millions of newly internet-connected devices—like DVRs and cameras and smart fridges and thermostats—that hackers can add to their swarms with terrifying ease.

The potential problem has been bubbling up for months, but reached a peak earlier this month when the source code for something called the "Mirai" botnet was released onto the web. ...

* http://fortune.com/2016/08/17/obama-internet-privatized/

Tech
Internet

Why Republicans Are Against Obama Privatizing Internet Governance

By Chauncey L. Alcorn August 17, 2016

... The administration’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration yesterday announced it will transfer internet domain name authority (IANA) from the federal government to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on Oct. 1, a bipartisan effort that’s spanned three Presidents, according to NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling.

“The IANA stewardship transition represents the final step in the U.S. government’s long-standing commitment, supported by three Administrations, to privatize the Internet’s domain name system,” Strickling wrote in a Tuesday blog post. ...

...“For the last 18 years, the United States has been working with the global Internet multi-stakeholder community to establish a stable and secure model of Internet governance that ensures that the private sector, not governments, takes the lead in setting the future direction of the Internet’s domain name system,” Strickling noted.

Republicans in Congress argue the move constitutes a federal government internet “giveaway,” according to The Journal,” and effectively monopolizes web domain pricing. ...

... The senators’ primary beef was with the Internet domain name registration company Verisign (vrsn, +0.31%), which ICANN exclusively works with to register web domains. The lawmakers complain fully transferring the federal government’s domain naming process over to ICANN gives Verisign exclusive authority to name its own price for the domain name registration process.

“Verisign’s government-approved control of the .com registry allows it to operate as a monopoly,” the senators wrote. ...

They don't seem to mind the censorship this enables, but if the Bush, Clinton and Obama Admins all amicably worked together toward the privatization of the internet for their paymasters at, of course, the expense of The People, what could possibly go wrong for them? If most people can no longer afford internet or have nothing sufficiently worthwhile remaining on the interwebz to justify the expense, they can still spy on everyone through their household appliances.

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7 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@Ellen North

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1 user has voted.

@Ellen North

you also don't really own the things you buy, creating a universe of new possibilities when it comes to dysfunction, fraud, and misleading advertising promises.

Right. There are all these outrageous claims that, because a product contains software, you don't own the hardware, you are only leasing it. This leads to unrepairable products or products whose servicemen gouge your eyes out.

The consumer is not being protected from the attempt to remove the rights of ownership and first sale. Most consumers are clueless about how they have click-thru-licensed away their rights. But what can an individual do in the absence of that dreaded government regulation?

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3 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

an "end-user," and the "Russian (or Macedonian) hacker" thing wasn't well-constructed enough for ME to fall for it. FFS.

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7 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

I should have already figured that; it's pretty obvious.

Have I mentioned I hate griefers? They epitomize most of what's wrong with the world today.

up
5 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

detroitmechworks's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I'm damn good when I choose to play, but I deliberately avoid it for 3 reasons.

1. I don't like battling potty mouthed children who act more emotionally betrayed by a minor play error than a senator suddenly discovering his long time business partner was a crook all along.

2. Bad/non-existent Beta testing on many great ideas ensures that by the time the game is truly enjoyable it will no longer have any appreciable player base.

3. I don't feel like paying extra to subscribe to whatever network I have to pay extra to play on. Or joining their damn social network. Or any other method of extracting more money out of players, I'm LOOKING AT YOU LOOTBOX CENTRAL EA!

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6 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@detroitmechworks Oh, god, lootboxes.

That's kind of out of my wheelhouse, but my honey constantly either rages about it, or sends it up quite hilariously.

Have you tried They Are Billions yet? I just got my early access a couple days ago. I'm quite impressed by the Let's Plays I've seen in Beta.

up
3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

WoodsDweller's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
I've been binge-watching let's plays. It looks fun AF, and it's in early access now. I'll be looking into getting it when I get a chance. So far they've just released the survival mode, but there is supposed to be a campaign mode coming.

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4 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@WoodsDweller I'll let y'all know next week in my OT how it goes--I got early access. First time in forever I got early access on a game.

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2 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Sounds like a blatant ripoff to me. But, since I don't play, all I can say is "a fool and his money are soon parted."

Why Do Gamers Hate Loot Boxes?

In the case of loot boxes, many gamers equate them to gambling. You open up a box and get items that may or may be what you want, or they may be worthless (though, unlike gambling, you always get something). Think of them like a digital pack of baseball cards, though at least you could sell baseball cards you didn’t want, or trade them for ones you do. That’s generally not the case in loot boxes.

This means that to get items they want, players may have to invest lots of money in multiple loot boxes until they hit the jackpot. How likely is that? As of now, it’s hard to tell, as most publishers don’t list the likelihood of getting certain items (Nintendo recently did in its new mobile game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, when using items that get you random collections of bugs or fish).

As for microtransactions, the argument is that you’re paying for something that should already be in the game. Many refer to this as “pay to play.” In the case of Battlefront, it was far easier to pay for a ton of loot boxes filled with powerful cards for your characters, rather than spend dozens of hours grinding for them in-game.

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/what-are-loot-boxes-microtransactions,news-...

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3 users have voted.

@arendt

Isn't a lootbox the same deal, except you are not guaranteed the work you paid for?

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1 user has voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@detroitmechworks @detroitmechworks So far, I haven't had to deal with much of this, since my favorite computer gaming is single-player turn-based strategy (getting into pausable RTS now for the first time with They Are Billions). So I am online, but only in the sense that I'm connecting to Steam--or in the sense that I'm watching Let's Plays on YouTube.

I hate griefers on behalf of my friends and loved ones who play MMOs. And on general principles, because griefing is pretty much the most anti-social human gesture I've encountered that doesn't involve blood or physical pain. It mimics the behavior of the powerful IRL, and applies it to gaming.

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5 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

detroitmechworks's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal Is fun. I particularly like the "Crusader Kings II" plus mod. (What's that? A Druid Revival in the 8th Century? In Galloway no less? It coulda happened!) Non-pausable RTS has been forever ruined for me by the Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War series degeneration.

I'm very much a Turn-based Strategy fan, and right now my big ones are XCOM2, Mordheim, and Massive Chalice. (Looking forward to Necromunda, and Hoping that they don't stop at base game like they did with Mordheim, but Games Workshop is apparently absolute dicks about mods in their licensed products) Recently bought one for irony purposes, called "Shattered Union" which speculated a civil war 8 years ago. Course, I can't help but like any game that lets me play as a PNW alliance...

Also have been enjoying some "Survival" games, even though I was hideously put off by Minecraft. Subnautica in particular is one I love, but as I'm partial to the works of Arthur Clarke and Jules Verne, I can't help but love a game where you get to have a Big honking Submarine, complete with Dinghy.

While I'd love it if somebody did a nice new NON MMO RPG, I'm distressed by the amount of MMO design elements making their way into the current gen of RPGs. Bioware has been officially flushed down the toilet, (I'M STILL LOOKING AT YOU EA!) and about the only ones who are doing anything good right now are in the JRPG market. (Kids are excited about Persona 5 and Kingdom Hearts 3)

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2 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

WoodsDweller's picture

@detroitmechworks
Divinity Original Sin 2 - 3rd person classic turn-based RPG. 100+ hours and tons of fun.
Spellforce 3 - combination RPG and RTS. Interesting idea, just watched a few hours, might be worth a try. You have a party of four "heroes" with gear, stats, perks, spells and your RTS camps give you some foot soldiers for outdoor fights.

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2 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@WoodsDweller I'm seriously into this discussion but are we, um, hijacking the essay? Don't mean to, and I'd love to continue this....

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2 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

I need to catch up on what the masses are wasting their time on. Smile

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4 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@WoodsDweller BTW, my honey is massively into DOS and wants me to play it with him.

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2 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Googling tells me RTS means real time strategy. But then I find a story that says RTS is dead:

A player on a Reddit thread sums it up exceptionally well:

“It’s just too much depth, complexity and content for most people to be willing to play and master. You can play a ton of other games out there and have an idea of what to do and what’s going on, but that is not the case with RTS games, especially Starcraft. As a new player, you have no idea what to do. You just get more money, make more workers, but then what units should you make? What units are best in that matchup? When should you expand? Etc. It takes many, many games and many, many losses to learn basic patterns and build orders. Basically…It’s a lot of work. And a lot of the losses people get are from things they never saw coming.”

That’s not the kind of gameplay that’s going to build a strong casual base, and let’s be clear: the majority of gamers aren’t pro e-sports players. They’re just looking to have fun. I read a recent statistic from one RTS developer who said that 80% of his game’s buyers never touch the multiplayer component at all. Considering that’s the main feature that ensures longevity in the genre, that statistic is painful.

https://www.geek.com/news/what-happened-to-the-real-time-strategy-genre-...

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1 user has voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

@arendt Because there's a certain group of younger player who is convinced they will be paid to play professionally if they are memorable enough.

Which results in a LOT of players engaging in meta to get views on twitch, etc... rather than just enjoying the game for the game.

Not something I enjoy. Which is sad, because I actually really enjoyed SMITE a while ago... but lootboxes and toxic pro wannabe culture...

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0 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

I have never played an online game. In general, I hate role-playing games. But that's because I was there at ground zero.

When I was a teenager, I bought some board game paraphenalia from this strange guy - who turned out to be Gary Gygax, the founder of Dungeons and Dragons.

I was into board games at the time - military simulations, Avalon-Hill, Strategy and Tactics, Game Designers' Workshop. It was intellectually challenging stuff based on detailed historical research, with ever more complex rules and a need to know some history of weapons, battles, and tactics. One of the founders of S&T was James Dunnigan, who became a famous military consultant and author.

Then, in the mid-70s, this Dungeons and Dragons dreck started hijacking the serious gamers. At the time, since there were no serious personal computers, D&D was played by rolling dice and holding cards. I watched intelligent people, grad students and the like, start behaving like 10 year olds, getting excited about magic spells.

At that point, I just walked away from the whole game culture and never looked back. And I'm glad I did. It has infantilized a significant segment of the younger generations. It has traded historical literacy for fantasy worlds.

When I played war games, no one was a griefer. They were all in it to win, and to play by the rules. We felt that it was sort of duplicate bridge with the other team being "history".

I feel simultaneously "out of the loop" and glad to be out of the loop.

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5 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

@arendt My grandfather was an avid historical wargamer (Napoleonic Era was his preferred era.) As a result, when I got into RPG's, I was much more into simple rule games like Star Wars D6. So I still have that perspective about the fair play, etc that was essential for understanding that the at best the game is essentially a catharsis for war.

(Also adore the fact that H.G. Wells was an avid wargamer.)

As far as the infantalized RPGs... Oh yeah, nothing gets more frustrating than Elves and Dwarves as the default, and we'll build everything off that. I still miss some of the more interesting concepts in RPG's that were present during the height of the pen and paper craze. Space 1889 in particular I loved for the victorian adventure aspects. Fantasy is far more than vague Tolkien plagiarism.

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4 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

@detroitmechworks @detroitmechworks

Space 1889 in particular I loved for the victorian adventure aspects. Fantasy is far more than vague Tolkien plagiarism.

This is the first I've heard of it, but if the rules enforced real physics and rigorously used Victorian tech level, then its more of a simulation than a complete fantasy.

I think the Steampunk stuff, like The Difference Engine, written by scifi heavyweights Neal Stephenson Bruce Sterling and William Gibson is marvelous alternative history.

Thanks for agreeing with me about Elves and Dwarves. I also was bored to tears by the Tolkein movie series. Great cinematography, but acting that did not even rise to "wooden" and dialogue that would embarrass a comic book writer.

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5 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

@arendt It assumes far too many Victorian scientific concepts that absolutely are not anywhere close to the truth. For example, all of the planets of the inner solar system being habitable. The Ether as the means by which Victorian space travel is accomplished, complete with the "Edison" Ether Propeller...

It's more based off Victorian/Pulp Era fiction than true extrapolation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space%3A_1889

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2 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

@detroitmechworks

what you describe sounds bloody ridiculous. Why would Gibson sign on to such nonsense? He has always been well grounded in reality.

Too bad about that book. Reviewers say it is "the" steampunk book. If that's top shelf, the other stuff must be rotgut.

Thanks for your report.

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4 users have voted.

@detroitmechworks

Do the inhabitable planets and ether propellor belong to "The Difference Engine" or Space 1889?

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2 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

@arendt Based off romantic adventure stories and a bit of the steampunk aesthetic.

They had Martians and Venusians and Loonies and Men from the Destroyed planet that is to be the fate of all eventual planets. (Even went with a goofy Victorian theory about the planets being birthed from the sun and evolving as they drifted away... )

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0 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

big multi-corps?

If that's not true, then yes, I'm disturbed by what these young men (I assume men?) have done. If it is actually the mega-corporations who mostly advertise on the Internet, well, then, I have no problem with them being defrauded through fraudulent clicks. Just as they have no problem with me being defrauded through fraudulent mortgages. Or fraudulent elections.

Them's the breaks when you break a fundamental social contract.

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8 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

even in these dark days, I actually agree with this:

Every service the corporations force onto the internet, either to extract a fee or to gain control over users, is another can of gasoline that we slosh onto our civilization. One of these days someone is going to toss a match.

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9 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

and who they're targeting. For me, anyway.

If the hacker crooks are targeting the Internet equivalent of mom-and-pop shops, that's seriously out of line. If they're targeting big corporations, I don't give a flying fuck. Except of course that the mega corps will find a way to make the shit float downstream. But they always find a way to do that.

Equally, it depends on who the hacker crooks are working for. Are they working for the 1%, some non-1%-er group, or themselves?

If we still had a working civilization, I would totally be with you in condemning these bad faith actors. However, I'm with the libertarians to this extent: if the powerful insist on breaking the social contract over and over again, my standards for judging lawbreakers change somewhat. Rather than judging them on whether or not they're breaking the law and harming civilization overall, I look (as best I can) at who, specifically, they are being cruel and/or unfair to. Who are they stealing from?

As Rooster Cogburn says, you can't steal from a thief.

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11 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

If we still had a working civilization, I would totally be with you in condemning these bad faith actors. However, I'm with the libertarians to this extent: if the powerful insist on breaking the social contract over and over again, my standards for judging lawbreakers change somewhat. Rather than judging them on whether or not they're breaking the law and harming civilization overall, I look (as best I can) at who, specifically, they are being cruel and/or unfair to. Who are they stealing from?

I agree that the US doesn't have a working civilization. But, just because it is Mad Max territory out on the internet doesn't make it a good idea to join the fun.

As you say, the corporations can fight this stuff off, even if just by deflecting it onto low-resource, low-skill peasants. But, to cheer for gangsters because they happen to be, for the moment, the enemy of your enemy is a very short-sighted attitude. What happens down the road when we live in a corporate feudal world and the hackers have been tamed into highwaymen who give a cut to the feudal lords to stay in business?

The only defense the little guy has ever had against thievery and slavery has been honest law-enforcement. We agree that there is none of that in view in the US today. But, perhaps, with the help of good people in the EU (and maybe even China and Russia), we might be able to re-establish an honest set of rules for the Internet. Of course, we would have to (magically) keep various governmental, corporate, and private-billionaire intelligence agencies from building in backdoors, invisibility cloaks, and get-out-of-jail-free National Security exemptions.

Just my opinion. YMMV.

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5 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt I'd be delighted if other governments could come up with a good set of reasonable and enforceable rules to prosecute internet crime.

But there's a couple of problems with that. First is the one you bring up:

Of course, we would have to (magically) keep various governmental, corporate, and private-billionaire intelligence agencies from building in backdoors, invisibility cloaks, and get-out-of-jail-free National Security exemptions.

And then there's the ugly way that the U.S. tends to throw its weight around internationally and keep other governments in line. I'm actually surprised that the EU has had as many honest discussions as they have about mass surveillance. OTOH, that hasn't stopped Britain or France from having their own Patriot Act-style crap going on, in spades.

When they thought Snowden was on the Bolivian president's plane, the reaction of European countries pretty much showed me where Europe, at least, resides: under the U.S.' foot. That's leaving out Russia, of course, which is too big to put under our foot at this time. That's not true everywhere, but the U.S. has a frightening amount of influence.

So I'm a little concerned about the U.S.' influence on whatever regulations would get put in place.

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt It's not that the criminals are my allies. What it comes down to, for me: I'd rather have a civilization and observe a basic social contract. But if some fuckers decide to destroy the basic social contract, I'm not going to continue to observe it--as regards them.

That's the thing about a contract. If you renege on it, you are no longer afforded its protections. Of course, the 1% are perfectly able to afford its protections because they actually more or less buy and own the government, the courts, and the cops, but they ain't getting any help from me. If I behave morally, it's because I feel like it, not because I have some kind of duty to them as fellow citizens. I don't, because we aren't fellow citizens, anymore.

If they want me to have a moral obligation to join with them in opposing crime, they can reinstitute the Republic. Stop controlling the government and the press and the courts. Let the chips fall where they may. In other words, act like they are citizens, not rulers.

If they are rulers by virtue of their immense wealth, they can hire their own damned protection.

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

but I sure have been aware of it for a long time:

This convergence of law enforcement and corporate security is another red line that no one seems to be tracking.

Once you know about private security corporations and how much data they get and keep from the government, and how they throw their weight around in foreign countries and at U.S. protests such as Occupy, you get the general gist.

I wonder if they, too, are in the Fusion Center loop?

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Remember, he was a PRIVATE security contractor; and he had access to just about every GOVERNMENT database and hacking tool.

There are two "features" for TPTB in privatizing intelligence/security. First is to shrink the government and create private profits and monopolies. But, second is to completely dodge the Constitution by having private organizations perform public functions with no oversight.

The number of security-cleared people has soared since 911, and the majority of them are private contractors. To me, its way late to do much about the privatization of intelligence. That horse has left the barn.

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5 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

@arendt

There are two "features" for TPTB in privatizing intelligence/security. First is to shrink the government and create private profits and monopolies. But, second is to completely dodge the Constitution by having private organizations perform public functions with no oversight.

Shadow government

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5 users have voted.

“We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy”

Chris Hedges

Pluto's Republic's picture

They’d given up DDoS attacks for something lower-profile—but also lucrative.

Okay. They were going to start making money! Here's the set-up:

They were using their botnet to run an elaborate click-fraud scheme—directing about 100,000 compromised IoT devices, mostly home routers and modems, to visit advertising links en masse, making it appear that they were regular computer users.

Got it! They sent their bluetooth-enabled-bathroom-exhaust-fan (and thousands more devices) dressed up like shoppers to visit JCPenny and click on stuff. Where do we collect the money?

They were making thousands of dollars a month defrauding US and European advertisers, entirely off the radar, with no one the wiser.

Wait! Wait a minute. "They were making thousands of dollars a month?"

I missed the part when the clicks turned into money in their pockets. How did the money jump from "US and European advertisers" and into the wallets of these young hackers?

It was, as far as investigators could tell, a groundbreaking business model for an IoT botnet. As Peterson says, “Here was a whole new crime that industry was blind to. We all missed it.”

"We all missed it" is right. I mean, where's the money? Or are we talking about a 3rd party prank where advertisers are paying extra to ad agencies, for bogus clicks?

"a groundbreaking business model for a botnet" - this is beyond Pottersville. This is gangsterism. It pulls back the curtain on what a dirty mess the non-dark internet is. Who needs the dark net when Minecraft is a trade school for hackers?

I dunno. I guess it's "groundbreaking" if you have no life, or if you're into pro-bono "gangsters."

Maybe this went over my head.

Meanwhile, I'm watching three new People's cyberspace networks being built, while the current "Internet" transforms into the Global Edition of Home Shopping Network. The Internet was just a prototype; a proof-of-concept with faulty architecture and old technology in a compromised location. I think that what information really does is, it makes people build self-encrypting widely-distributed sharing networks where it can live free and interact with humans. I'm looking forward to this future.

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4 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic @Pluto's Republic

Wait! Wait a minute. "They were making thousands of dollars a month?"

I missed the part when the clicks turned into money in their pockets. How did the money jump from "US and European advertisers" and into the wallets of these young hackers?

...are we talking about a 3rd party prank where advertisers are paying extra to ad agencies, for bogus clicks?

Advertisers are mighty pissed at Facebook for inflating click rates and charging for it. As for the size of the problem, here's the first item that popped up in a Google search:

According to the report, advertisers will have spent $72.09 billion on U.S. digital advertising by the end of 2016, while TV spending will account for $71.29 billion.

Sep 14, 2016

Forget the URL. It is one of those extended messes that is three lines long.
https://www.forbes.com/.../digital-ad-spending-will-surpass-tv-spending-......

One millionth of $72 B/year is $72,000/year. That is $6,000/month.

The numbers do not seem out of line to me.

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2 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

I'm just disappointed that the hackers didn't make any money off of their mischief. So, it was a prank, and now they have a criminal record and a lifetime of shit jobs to look forward to. I do find it kinda funny thinking about your Bluetooth doorbell and coffee-maker being rounded up to go window shopping on the Internet while you're asleep. I still think the IOT is mindlessly dumb, considering how much unwelcome exposure it gives you.

Thanks for the amusing interlude, arendt.

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3 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

I still think the IOT is mindlessly dumb, considering how much unwelcome exposure it gives you.

The IoT is not dumb. It's the people who use the IoT who are dumb. The IoT gets idiots to pay for their own enslavement. To the extent it succeeds, it is brilliant.

---

Who in their right mind wants a bunch of gadgets, that collectively manage your life, being run remotely by some faceless corporation? Who in their right mind pays for gadgets like Google Home or Amazon Echo which listen to every word you say and forward it to NSA databases?

You have to have to want to be a peasant, want to be naked before the world to accept any of this garbage.

I refuse to use GPS on my phone. First because it is spyware. Second because it deskills me, makes it hard for me to keep a mental map of the region I live in.

I use cash whenever I can; and I will fight the move to electronic cash as hard as I can.

Fortunately, by empoverishing everyone, who has the money to pay for this crap? $1,000 for a cell phone. $300 for useless crap like Amazon Echo. $300 for the idiotic FitBit watches. (That craze has passed its peak as studies show people actually gain weight when they buy one.) These gadgets make less sense than the over-hyped crap, like Shamwow, they sell in infomercials.

Unless they subsidize all this tech, all the slick advertising they can run will not convince poor people that it has value. Money, not intelligence, is all that stands between us and the Panopticon in your pocket.

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4 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

I had a friend staying with me who had an echo he left sitting around. Once , when he was out, Alexa started talking to me. He had changed her name to a word I use, so it woke her up (As if every word is not recorded). I come to find out that she will talk to anyone. No loyalty whatsoever Wink Anyway, I concur completely. I am scrupulous about online privacy. I've been horrified by Facebook since day one, and I was interacting before the Well came along.

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3 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt Who in their right mind wants a bunch of gadgets, that collectively manage your life, being run remotely by some faceless corporation? Who in their right mind pays for gadgets like Google Home or Amazon Echo which listen to every word you say and forward it to NSA databases?

Never. Never. Never.

I wish I didn't even have to have a cell phone. My family essentially guilted me into it.

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic There is no way in hell I would buy something like that--if I can help it. I'm afraid someday it may not be possible to buy appliances that are NOT spyware.

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

the government knew all the time?

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

One part of the "government" just found out today that another part of the "government" not only contracted out to CrowdStrike to hoax the Russia Spy Hysteria, but they also had FusionGPS in the loop, realtime, as they wrote the hoax Trump oppositional research that Hillary ended up funding.

All I know is that this government is leaky. Even I know too much. And, I'm just alert.

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6 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

Or are you just referring to the general awareness of what a crock of shit the "investigation" of Hillary's emails was?

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3 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

Something funny happened to their cohort FusionGPS, who got Russian spies to write the Golden Shower dossier on Trump, that Hillary funded.

But it happened in the middle of the Mueller investigation, which caused heads to roll and made the FBI look radically partisan.

This is pretty far down in the weeds, for those not following along in this fiasco.

Court Filing Confirms Fusion GPS Hired DOJ Official's CIA Wife To Dig Up Dirt On Trump

Like I said, it's convoluted.

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4 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

I am vaguely aware that Fusion came up; but the whole investigation is such a joke that I don't follow it anymore.

Last I heard, the lie that got Flynn was that he tried to press Russia on behalf of Israel. So Russia-gate was reallly Israel-gate. That sure didn't make the 6 o'clock news.

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4 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic Crowdstrike is connected to Fusion? Now that's something I didn't know.

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic Court Filing Confirms Fusion GPS Hired DOJ Official's CIA Wife To Dig Up Dirt On Trump

I need help expressing my feelings about this, so I'm bringing in the Great Argus Pheasant to help me out:

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

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2 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic I often rely on Great Argus to help me out that way. My family and I use the Argus mating call to express both shocked disbelief and delight. It's kind of the "Bless your heart" of birdsong.

There should be a word for things like that--words and sounds that can mean two exactly opposite things, depending on the context.

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Pluto's Republic They didn't know Hillary et al were cooking the evidence? C'mon, how on earth could they not know?

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2 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

The impression what happens at the IT end of networks is all from Hollywood, Trump was right about about some fat guy on a bed. A fat guy on a bed could do a simple phishing scheme. But somehow only the Russians do it. Homeland Security tried to convince Americans that the Russians hacked into actual voting machines until at least state election officials starting calling bullshit.

In many ways, Russia-gate must be a boom to real hackers in that attention is taken away from them, and then can now do shit which points at the Russians to cover their tracks.

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10 users have voted.

@MrWebster

Case in point: I have a friend who was a commodity trader. Back in the 1990s, he asked me if the portrayal of decryption in the movie "Sneakers" was accurate. This guy trades on terminals for a living, and he was clueless.

Dmitry Orlov is right. When the US goes smash, the population will starve and freeze because they are completely clueless drones.

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7 users have voted.

@arendt Dang that was amazing. Yup, that is what people see as hacking. I hope the Russians missed the movie.

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5 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@MrWebster

…a download on a thumbdrive plugged into a computer inside the DNC offices — instead of a hack — it would only inspire the Russians to laugh.

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4 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

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2 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@MrWebster Well, interestingly, a whole lot of Americans didn't buy it.

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2 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@MrWebster Never have so many lied so much to gain so little.

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

QMS's picture

@MrWebster Make electoral processes suspect to devious machinations so the Dept. of Homelike Security "has to" control the elections for our protection. Black boxes and the like. We are safe from hackers now, cause it's been outsourced to DHS contractors. Coupe de gras.

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3 users have voted.

Use the Lincoln Law to fight government fraud.

@QMS

We lost honest elections back in 2002, when they voted for the HAVA act - e-voting using proprietary, un-verifiable, hackable software, owned by Christian fundamentalists and other corporate assholes.

What you say is true, but it only allows for a smoother flow of propaganda about why the election didn't turn out the way TPTB hoped it would. IOW, in case their rigged voting machines couldn't do the job without blowing their cover, the DHS will step in.

There going to need the DHS as voter participation falls into the 30% range. In that range, a campaign that motivates people to participate can wreck all the poll-driven "projections".

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4 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@arendt Rather than expose the fact that no-one is voting anymore, DHS can fudge the numbers to make us think EVERYBODY voted for the next crook.

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3 users have voted.

Use the Lincoln Law to fight government fraud.

Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

Once voter participation gets below 30% other options become possible, since you no longer have a democracy. At that point, I think it is possible to apply for status at the United Nations as a disenfranchised majority population. This delegitimizes what the US tries to do there, since it acts without the express consent of the people. The legitimacy of its vote can be challenged, make it harder for them to start wars. Back home, referendums of all kinds can be called. States can form strategic regional alliances — and they should. Once the catastrophes and natural disasters start, the Federal government will fold, as planned. Deep down the people know they are the next Puerto Rico. Prepping is going on everywhere. Regional states need to start pooling now, and organizing strategic reserves. They should tax the new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations — right away — and build their own survival reserves. They need to beef up the infrastructure that serves their region, and prepare to declare autonomy and independence.

To me, that makes more sense than worrying about a new political Party, and other unworkable distractions.

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2 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

although my impression of the UN is that it is a useless, hamstrung organization. The US has been stiffing it for decades. The Security Council vetoes make it powerless to do anything that the major powers don't like.

But, I'll play along for the sake of argument.

What organization would "apply for status at the United Nations as a disenfranchised majority population."?

I mean, any stunt like this would be instantly jumped on by TPTB. The leadership would be charged with something/anything just to get their asses in jail. There would be reprisals - tax audits, phony sexual harrassment charges, etc.

In order to get this recognized, whoever does this application would have to be a name person or group. Big names are likely to fold under the kind of pressure I just stated.

First of all, this is not ever going to be passed by a state legislature or signed by a governor. So it would be some kind of NGO. Said NGO would instantly be shut down.

Frankly, I just don't see how this tactic would work.

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1 user has voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

Strategy, position, advantage.

If it was a fact — that 70 percent of the people will not vote — then that would signify a failed democracy. That makes the US a failed state. It's a bloodless rebellion to have the US formally recognized as a non-representative government. Such a nation cannot expect to rally other nations to join sanctions imposed by an illegitimate government. Ghandi used similar moves to reclaim India.

Taiwan. Palestine. The American colonists.

The US crossed the Rubicon 15 years ago and everyone has been holding their breath, since. I don't think Americans understand how outrageous they look. I know the US is in denial about the fact that the world has spent a decade setting up an alternative financial system, and has slapped a kill switch on the Dollar. That switch can be thrown at any time. China, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabiaia, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Philippines, much of Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America — they have changed toward us. They know we can never be trusted again; that we would destroy all of them in a heartbeat. They no longer trade in Dollars when they don't have to.They're letting their Dollar reserves draw down. Oil is being bought and sold in Rubles, in gold, and in Bitcoin. (Look no further that this to understand what is going on with crypto-currencies.) Next week. the Gold PetroYuan will be launched by China, and will change the history of commerce.

The US made its final voyage pass the Point of No Return when the American people elected Donald Trump as their president. The people didn't have a decent candidate to vote for. The outcome has been a cry for help. The world was on top of that, they witnessed the truth of it. But then, they were smacked with two more insults. 1) The US withdrew from the Paris Agreement, which is deeply symbolic on so many important levels, and 2) The US has attempted to trigger two nuclear wars with two different nations in the same year. Both were disrespectful toward the lives of the people in this world. But there they are.

Now, the US appears as a suicide bomber on the world stage, and every nation in the world is transfixed by his death throes. But the bomber has no idea it's over for him, whether he detonates or not. Even the IMF knows the US is done. Yet the bomber still thinks he's part of the global conversation. He still thinks he's somebody worth talking to because he has the most weapons. On a dying planet, that just doesn't mean anything. The world witnessed what happened to Libya and they witnessed the horrors of Syria,. They know what the US is capable of. Every day they watch as US war games aggressively poke into North Korea's space. They listen to a drunken US congress bluster for an excuse to unleash nuclear bombs against Iran, a nation that has honored the agreement it made with the US and four other nations. The world knows that the American people are half crazy — obsessed by Russian hysteria that was cynically pushed into their brains by their government. And that is just sad, because these weak-minded fools have marked all of us as beyond redemption.

So, under the circumstances, I don't think there are any standard rules for dealing with national non-compliance with Our Corporate Overlords. We are immersed in a zone of "firsts." None of this has ever really happened before. We are standing in new territory and we don't know who we are. I say, let's put every strategy we have on the table. The People still haven't figured out that they won the 2016 election. They destroyed both Parties, and ever since those Parties have been lurching around like sad ghosts, doing and saying shitty things. The power has been in the hands of the People for all this time. They just don't have the imagination to use it.

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3 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

And, it left me wanting to die quickly.

It touches every fear and every bit of grieving I have done for our once decent country. I do not recognize this country anymore. It is a crude, braying, hyper-militarized caricature of itself, with the propaganda blaring constantly. It looks hideous and scary to me from the inside. I can imagine the rest of the world trying to avoid being either gobbled up or destroyed by our monstrosity.

the US is in denial about the fact that the world has spent a decade setting up an alternative financial system, and has slapped a kill switch on the Dollar. That switch can be thrown at any time.

I have spent the last year looking for a way to survive the obvious financial trainwreck that is coming; but I don't see a path. Social Security and Medicare will be eliminated, either by GOP/corpoDem criminality or by external circumstances. The value of the dollar will be zero; and the cryptocurruncies are a scam. Inflated real estate prices will plummet. The bond markets will collapse, and the stock market will crash. I see no store of value that will not be destroyed by whatever straw breaks the camel's back of American Imperial overstretch and domestic looting.

The only unknown is exactly how bad the break is going to be. Will it be with the "bang" of species-cidal full on nuclear war? Or will it be with the "whimper" of a stock market collapse and the Mother of All Depressions that disarms the US? Or something in between. However, there is not much "in between". Calculations are that between 30 and 100 Hiroshima bombs could cause Nuclear Winter. If we were insane enough to nuke RNK (and that scumbag Graham gives that a 70% chance), we would probably use 30 bombs. Game over.

Now, the US appears as a suicide bomber on the world stage, and every nation in the world is transfixed by his death throes. But the bomber has no idea it's over for him, whether he detonates or not. Even the IMF knows the US is done. Yet the bomber still thinks he's part of the global conversation. He still thinks he's somebody worth talking to because he has the most weapons. On a dying planet, that just doesn't mean anything. The world witnessed what happened to Libya and they witnessed the horrors of Syria,. They know what the US is capable of. Every day they watch as US war games aggressively poke into North Korea's space. They listen to a drunken US congress bluster for an excuse to unleash nuclear bombs against Iran, a nation that has honored the agreement it made with the US and four other nations. The world knows that the American people are half crazy — obsessed by Russian hysteria that was cynically pushed into their brains by their government. And that is just sad, because these weak-minded fools have marked all of us as beyond redemption.

I can't argue with any of that. We don't have leadership. We have a pile of sociopaths and crackpot ideologues installed by the 0.01% to loot America and extract tribute from the rest of the world with our bloated military. That's true in all three branches of government. Americans have as little control of its country's policies as the German people had over Nazi policies in 1938. The American legal system is a mockery of justice. It only works if you are filthy rich.

The question for the minority of the world that remains sane is how to deal with the US. Among the sane, I do not include the neoliberals: EU, Japan, India; or our new "best friends", the nutso Eastern European authoritarians, like Poland and Ukraine; or the outlier Five Eyes countries, Canada, NZ, and Australia. And, scarily, with those exclusions, there is not much sanity left on the planet.

The US has squandered its industrial power and its "soft" power. Its finances are a house of cards. All the US has left is military power; and that is overrated. Our weapons are designed to maximize MIC profit, not to be effective in battle. The F-35 and the Zumwault ships are gold-plated turkeys. Our aircraft carriers are only useful against third rate powers. Hypersonic cruise missiles, which Russia and China have, will keep them far away from land. Our army is tiny and has always been ineffective, winning only by attrition. We can't attrit China. To use our military against anyone above Yemen would expose how poor it is.

So, I think the US leadership has painted itself into a corner. To try to shoot their way out of it is suicidal, although a serious possibility. Meanwhile, as you say, the sane folks are preparing the kill switch. As a powerless individual without a government, without even a political party that represents my interests, I am a spectator at my own imminent execution.

What a sad way to end a life of playing by the rules.

Genuine thanks for reminding me how screwed we are. I will stay focused for a while, looking for some kind of way out, until the futility of trying to escape this death row cell drops me back into lethargy.

Great writing.

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3 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt I would be sad if you stopped writing. I like talking to you.

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

I enjoy your writing as well. Literacy and literary skill are rare commodities these days; and to add insult to injury, most people don't miss them.

I am in the situation that I described in that OP about robots and automation, I feel isolated. The corporate media is crap, and most of the people I encounter are clueless about that. The major "leftwing" boards (DU, DKos) have long since been hijacked by the Third Way trolls and turned into veal pens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren turned into sheep dogs. Google and Twitter are censoring speech, and Net Neutrality is repealed. I feel that I have very little community left.

C99p is tiny. A good post might get 50 meaningful comments over the period of a few days. Its a nice safe place; but it feels like an R&R zone for political combatants (which is OK, because I am sick of the deliberate brawling introduced by paid wreckers). Plus, it seems to be heavily weighted towards older folks - because they like a site that is just about text and writing, without all the multimedia BS that the younger folks seem to need.

I hear that Millenials do know they are screwed. I would like to investigate what they are doing. I just don't know how to link up with them and support them. Any thoughts?

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1 user has voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt It wasn't always so. This essay of mine was, I think the high point for comments for me, over 200:

https://caucus99percent.com/content/what-must-we-do

Whoops, no, turns out there was one that got 300:

https://caucus99percent.com/content/why-does-clinton-machine-want-us-leave

More recently, my essay on race garnered interest:

https://caucus99percent.com/content/open-thread-race-and-propaganda

We are seeing a drop-off in people actually talking since last year. That's not surprising, given the events that have happened. Being a site that focuses on politics is damned difficult under these circumstances. It's easy for people to give in to a massive sense of futility.

However, I think a fair number of people lurk. Of course, I can't really tell. The reason I think people hang around to read, even if they don't talk, is that fairly often somebody will post a comment who hasn't posted one in months or even a year or more.

Somebody even posted that we may be suffering from a version of search engine censorship (Google gotta crack down on that fake news, dontcha know) but I only vaguely remember the comment.

Also, the way I see things, we get intermittently trolled by the corporate media, who create flameworthy topics, present them in a manner which will encourage the most division and vitriol, and wait for us to discuss them, get mad at each other, and stomp off. Let me clarify that I don't mean the five media corporations specifically target C99. They're actually trolling the American people, especially that portion of the population that pays attention to politics at all. Online and off, they want people spitting poison at each other and then getting exasperated and walking away. I think we do better than most at weathering those storms, but from my perspective, every time someone walks away, it's a loss.

So glass half empty or half full? Is it sad that we're so small, or amazing that we're here at all?

Not sure.

What I'd most like is a way to ensure that I won't lose you all because some dickwad on high slows down the speed at which our data travels.

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1 user has voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt As far as linking up with Millennials--truth is, I no longer know how to link up with anyone, except on the Internet. And that scares me, a bit.

I don't know where most politically-minded Millennials hang out on the web. We do have a few here. Perhaps they could speak to this?

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0 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

There are plenty of ways out. Now that you know the worst of it, you will start to see them. Did you know that there is a whole genre of history that looks at alternative ways of ending Empires? Academic books and papers describe some of the good spirit and prosperity that can come out of such an event. When the UK lost Empire, they didn't do it as badly as most. They didn't burn down the house. A certain kind of relief and joy bubbled up. The aristocracy receded and the lower classes found a new identity in public service. Entertainment and the arts took off. The country could leverage its assets and debt into infrastructure projects. They didn't gut their nation by spending their last dime and their last life deploying on pointless murder sprees in foreign lands — the suicide-by-cop exit for fallen Empires. Instead, they held back and looked around and adjusted to the new reality.

Here's what they figured out right away: They could stop spending money, stop throwing it down the black hole of war, and it would start to pile up. Big piles. So you know what they did in 1948? Something we still can manage to do because we are just not smart enough or rich enough or evolved enough. They launched single payer healthcare to benefit all of the people. It's still going strong. The UK joined the rest of the truly civilized nations on the podium.

Once the US shuts down its 1,500 military bases, and winds down its murder sprees across the globe, there's going to be a lot of money to pour into the people and the infrastructure of the United States. Half of every dollar the people pay the government in taxes, trillions(!), is flushed down the toilet with nothing to show for it — except dead and horribly maimed soldiers. There have been Empires that simply cut their losses and started having fun and enjoying life. It's happened before.

In our case, it's been made inevitable. We'll be forced to close down Empire's killing machines because the dollar won't be accepted for purchases outside of the US. They will accept gold, but many doubt we have any. So that money that doesn't get spent on murder and mayhem means that social programs don't need to get cut. And by spending our money on ourselves, we will create an economic miracle we haven't seen for a long time.

It can go that way, too. If only the people weren't so mentally damaged, they could write down a vision of what they want and hold on to it. There's a real opportunity here. It couldn't have happened without Donald Trump in the White House giving nightmares to the world. That dummy will probably take credit for it, too. We can root out the embedded bureaucratic louts in the Agencies and at Defense and State, where they hide behind their mountains of classified documents thinking they're untouchable. And we can close down those over-funded Zombie-Nazi Think Tanks in DC, who suck up our government money. It's those Neocon cesspools that have been poisoning us with hate and fear, and making our representatives stupid. We should deport all the dual nationals who have been involved with the horrific events of the 21st century, so far. They're fired! Same with the media monopolies. Break them up into tiny pieces so they can never "collude" and coalesce again into mindless propaganda machines. And nationalize the big banks, already! Take their profits and put them back into the economy to the benefit nation. Un-privatize our public utilities and natural resources, as well. That goes for the Internet, too. We want socialized oil like Alaska has. I expect a yearly dividend check. The only belt-tightening that needs to happen is with the mega corporations. Suck it up, greedheads. And get back to work. Tax them at 100 percent until the GINI Index shows signs that the US has found its moral compass. Regulate the hell out of the capitalists for what they have done. Who do they think they are?

If people coordinated their vision for a better world, they could have it. Gravity, mass, momentum — the laws of physics have always been on our side. Americans have a human right to a full-spectrum 21st century education, as far as they can go. A well educated populace is the secret to creating strong beautiful nations and good leaders with the potential for wisdom.

And so forth. We got it all.

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3 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

When the UK lost Empire, they didn't do it as badly as most. They didn't burn down the house. A certain kind of relief and joy bubbled up. The aristocracy receded and the lower classes found a new identity in public service. Entertainment and the arts took off. The country could leverage its assets and debt into infrastructure projects. They didn't gut their nation by spending their last dime and their last life deploying on pointless murder sprees in foreign lands — the suicide-by-cop exit for fallen Empires.

The UK always punched well above its weight. The Industrial Revolution gave it a huge head start; but soon, Germany and the US overtook them. The UK working classes never had the huge sense of entitlement and "indispensibility" that the US "middle" class has had since WW2.

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

- Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress (misattributed to John Steinbeck)

Even at the height of American wealth, the 1970s, there was minimal investment in society. We never got universal health insurance. We failed to correct the problems in public housing (neither did the Brits: Grenfell Tower). We trashed public transportation and privatized public education.

The Brits did none of that in the 1960s. In fact, the Labor Party was large and in charge. Coal miners and dock workers were feared for their economic power. Income inequality had been smashed by decades of taxation of the rich - who had to sell off all their castles and estates. Integration was a fait accompli until the EU refugee problem popped up in the oughts.

None of what allowed Britain to survive until the Thatcherites arrived is present today in America. We have horrible income inequality, massive ignorance from wrecked public education, appalling gun violence, racism in the police forces, powerful theocratic lobbies that roadblock sane policies like birth control. Our infrastructure is falling down, not quite as bad as the Brits after WW2, but approaching Third World.

Even if the military budget vanished, the problems we face are gigantic.

The bulk of the US population seems either resigned or hypnotized. Most of them are stuck working three jobs with no benefits and no security just to put a roof over their heads - and many are failing to do even that. Half the population is effectively peasants. They can't come up with $500 in an emergency. They have no savings. What little health insurance they have is about to be vaporized by a GOP government. They are in hock to credit card companies or payday loan gangsters.

These folks are too desperate to be "actors" in any change in policy; they will be "reactors", the mere mob that the "actors" use to smash down the government. By my reconning, the 1% control the mob via hate radio and all the other propaganda techniques they can afford to deploy.

The only way the left will even get a chance to voice its platform is if some 1% warmongering blows up completely and/or the Chinese decide to sink the dollar. In the resulting chaos, the US will either go completely fascist or the left will make some kind of comeback.

I just don't see the US "not doing as badly as most". We have piled up too much karma; killed to many people; robbed too many people; humiliated too many people. TPTB have never bent one inch in their prerogative to do all those things. They never retreat; so they will have to be broken. The breakage will do great damage.

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2 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic

We can root out the embedded bureaucratic louts in the Agencies and at Defense and State, where they hide behind their mountains of classified documents thinking they're untouchable. And we can close down those over-funded Zombie-Nazi Think Tanks in DC, who suck up our government money. It's those Neocon cesspools that have been poisoning us with hate and fear, and making our representatives stupid. We should deport all the dual nationals who have been involved with the horrific events of the 21st century, so far. They're fired! Same with the media monopolies. Break them up into tiny pieces so they can never "collude" and coalesce again into mindless propaganda machines. And nationalize the big banks, already! Take their profits and put them back into the economy to the benefit nation. Un-privatize our public utilities and natural resources, as well. That goes for the Internet, too. We want socialized oil like Alaska has. I expect a yearly dividend check. The only belt-tightening that needs to happen is with the mega corporations. Suck it up, greedheads. And get back to work. Tax them at 100 percent until the GINI Index shows signs that the US has found its moral compass.

Not one major party office holder or candidate today would dare to get up and express these thoughts. Third parties have tried this platform and gotten less than 1% of the vote.

Still, it is a good program. People, from the right and the left, want the monopolies broken up, the banks nationalized, the neocons run out of town on a rail. All those things poll very well and yet nothing has happened. Given that that is true, and has been true for quite some time, short of a major war or economic collapse, I don't see anything changing. In fact, I see a tightening of censorship and propaganda, an increase in prosecutions for bullshit charges of treason and colluding with an enemy, an increasingly militarized, out-of-control police force.

What you are proposing presumes we are still a democracy. I gave up that idea years ago. We live in a soft/friendly fascist dictatorship, complete with secret police, a massive gulag and torture (see Homan Square in Chicago or any Supermax hellhole prison). TPTB learned to keep the smiley face on in public and only show their true face when they meet among themselves to carve the rest of us up.

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2 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt There's plenty for us to do amongst ourselves, down here in the 99%, but you are spot-on in your analysis of what the real problem is with us taking action for our own benefit (independent of the government and the megacorps): the real problem is that we have been culturally and economically blitzed for 40 years, many of us are putting every ounce of their energy into keeping their heads above water--whatever that means to them--and yes, that means they are working much longer hours and are in debt and barely have time for their kids and taking care of their elders.

This economic and cultural Blitzkrieg have left us drained, exhausted, demoralized, and overworked. Therefore doing the work of increasing our independence, our sustainability/resilience, and our community ties is very hard indeed. It requires many of us to skill up (we have, most of us, been terribly de-skilled as one result of that Blitzkrieg); it requires us to do something most people are very loathe to do, which is form IRL relationships they spend time on with people who are not their families or their friends from school or work. In other words, the third sphere of human activity, (1st sphere is family, 2nd is work) where the community used to live (the parish, the neighborhood, the town, etc.) has diminished badly. We've replaced it with the internet. and I love the net dearly, always have since the 90s, but it's hardly a panacaea. And it's got operatives all over it as well, making trouble.

This is where the real problem is: we often don't have the energy and resources to connect and do real work. Sometimes it even seems that we don't have the inclination, probably because we're exhausted and demoralized.

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1 user has voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

lotlizard's picture

@Pluto's Republic  
declarations of intention to ignore the federal government.

With sanctuary cities, people have already philosophically and psychologically accepted a refusal to co-operate with the federal government — states would just need to extend the argument to every other area of endeavor.

So, after the 19th century’s Confederacy, a 21st century secessionist rebellion that is nominally Left, progressive, anti-fascist?

May seem a strange notion but, after all, sanctuary cities are a case of liberals learning legal strategy from Orval Faubus, George Wallace, and Lester Maddox. “States have their own sovereignty and you can’t make us.”

As far as I can tell, Trump may bluster but he’s not Eisenhower — he’s not going to send in the National Guard to enforce federal (immigration) law.

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1 user has voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@lotlizard

…but he's a vindictive bastard, with poor impulse control. That's what makes people nervous.

In any event, he could be expelled from the White House, easily. I am secretly amused by this fact and turn it over in my mind often.

Trump committed a blatant, impeachable crime in front of a shocked world. Everyone saw it. He would have been charged and convicted in any of the five-eyes nations, and in any European nation. But Americans won't impeach him for it because 1) They forgot it was a crime. 2) They sort of liked it, and 3) Hell yeah!

The US is a nation of war criminals. We cheer our war crimes and we lionize those who commit them. "USA! USA! USA!"

So, I figure even the Democrats love their war crimes and war criminal Presidents more than they hate Trump. In fact, a war crime is the only thing Trump ever did that they liked. Someone should take their pussy hats away They don't deserve them.

It's Existential-Dilemma Friday. Have a nice weekend everyone.

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1 user has voted.

http://www.ilctr.org/promoting-immigrants/immigrant-entrepreneur-hof/brin/

Country of origin: Russia
Year came to U.S.: 1979
Education: BS Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Maryland; MS Computer Science, Stanford University
Business: Alphabet (Google) (1998)
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA
2015 revenue: $75 billion
Worldwide employment: 61,814
Ranked 40 in the 2015 Fortune 500
In 2014, Forbes named Sergey Brin the ninth most powerful person in the world.
Google’s impact on society has been compared to the invention of the printing press.

...

Sergey Brin is a Putin plant. Checkmate! lol

--- local, seriously ---
Immigration conversation in Cloverdale

Misti Harris, community engagement liaison with the Sonoma County’s Sheriff’s Office, said the primary message she came to deliver was that “we serve everyone equally. We don’t enforce immigration law.”

Harris said the county has been reviewing its immigration status policy, and the new policy will be “up and running” by January 1. Public comments are being accepted until December 15. [...]

A representative from Catholic Charities said their work is currently focused on offering citizenship classes and helping people become citizens. In Cloverdale, they are offering free classes to help people prepare for a civics test in English, starting on Feb. 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. at St. Peters Church.[...]

“Native-borns do not want to do these jobs, and this is the reality of immigrants, not only in the U.S. but throughout the world. We need to convey to the general public that these individuals are indispensable to the economy.”
...
“If it weren’t for these individuals, we would not be as competitive. We couldn’t compete with fine wines from France and Spain, and if we did not pay and hire these individuals who are undocumented, the wine industry would not be as successful. If you go to the back of the house in a restaurant, many of them are undocumented and Latino. And the fine 5-star hotels? Who are actually cleaning the bathrooms of our hotels? It’s immigrants,” Malpica said.

wow I live among a bunch of xenophobic racists, it is really depressing. Rotten stinking plutocracy needs purging.

Nobody 2018
huelga

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2 users have voted.

Bother.

@eyo @eyo

Sergey Brin is a Putin plant. Checkmate! lol

I read a news article that referred to a 2015 report about CIA funding of Google, a report which has been completely ignored. The story has a CT feel to it, with long recitals of which organizations which people work for. This is even acknowledged by the authors of the report:

(The report) was totally blacked out in the English-language media: except the US tech news site Gigaom, which recommended our investigation as follows:

“An interesting, if extremely dense, account of Google’s longstanding interactions with US military and intelligence was published on Medium last week.”

This has very important implications that deserve careful scrutiny: In short, the inside story of Google’s seed-funding and founding by the CIA and NSA breaks into the open — but not a single English-language newspaper wants to cover or even acknowledge the story. Yet what could be bigger news, than one of the world’s biggest ‘news-facilitators’ being so closely aligned with the US intelligence community at birth?

The lack of interest is not the result of a conspiracy. It’s the predictable outcome of the fact that the global media industrial complex represents a highly centralized institutional structure that perpetuates a culture of slavish obedience to power.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/01/the-collapse-of-media-and-what-y...

I haven't got time to track down the truth of this, but it would be hard not to trace connections between the CIA and Google. It's well known that the CIA founded Q-tel In-Q-Tel to hoover up Silicon Valley talent. IIRC, Peter Thiel Norman Augustine (ex-CEO of Lockheed Martin) was the first CEO of Q-tel. Peter Thiel founded Palantir, another spookware company.

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3 users have voted.