May 12, 2009

Torturous Terms of Art

The matter of torture has been discussed over the past several years in connection with its use as a "tool" in the "Global War on Terror" or the "Overseas Contingency Operation" as it has now been called. Dick Cheney has been recently making rounds in an attempt to salvage some credibility and to fuel the partisan fire. Those he represents need to keep their justifications for torture at the forefront of the public mind and desire to gain political capital by implying that the Obama administration is faulty because it will not use this much-needed tool to "keep America safe".  Even that may be disingenuous on Cheney's part since Obama's executive orders appear to provide ample loopholes of their own.

Unfortunately, the discussion of torture has revolved only around its alleged utility and which particular acts technically constitute torture. Perhaps we can blame the lawyers for this. When George Bush and Dick Cheney decided that torturing people was necessary, they sought counsel from government attorneys. They desired to find a legal loophole allowing them to employ extraordinary interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists. Historically, torture has been a very effective way to obtain guilty pleas from all manner of suspects whether or not they were in fact guilty. Who needs any evidence when you can use this wonderful means of getting people to implicate themselves and anyone else you desire? If we could only ask the women and men of Salem if the information they elicited under torture was true and reliable, we could dispense with some of these boring discussions.

Thanks to the intellectuals in media we are subjected to questions such as,  "Is waterboarding torture?" Perhaps there are some who can honestly claim that there is an objective and rational argument that it isn't, but the CIA didn't just use waterboarding. They also, according to some who were "renditioned", sliced prisoners genitals with a scalpel. What other techniques were used without any public knowledge? We know that the military admitted there were at least 34 homocides during prisoner interrogations so it wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude that waterboarding was the least of the torture techniques used on suspected terrorists. How much information does a dead prisoner volunteer anyway?

While an elite group of historically, morally and constitutionally-challenged lawyers may have drafted a few briefs, it was the Bush administration which sought this legal counsel. Clearly they weren't interested in any arguments contrary to their plans. So we can't merely blame lawyers for presenting torturous legal arguments in favor of almost-torture to "defend Amurikah."

In spite of the obviously tyrannical nature of the Bush administration, the mainstream media acted as its unpaid PR firm by keeping the conversation focused on the minutiae of definitions. Waterboarding is torture though the name by which it was once commonly known has fallen out of favor. Perhaps it was sensitivity to WWII vets, tortured in this fashion, which brought about the new name. During their era the torture technique was called "The Water Cure". Japanese practitioners of the water cure were convicted of torture and executed after WWII, so of what consequence is a morally-depraved lawyer or Vice President's opinion that the practice is acceptable and legal?

However, the Bush administration didn't just settle for a re-definition of torture. Persons caught up in their sadistic scheme were claimed to be, rather than persons, suspects or defendants, "enemy combatants" and detained on foreign soil. In their eyes, they could act outside the boundaries of the Constitution, in spite of their public oaths promising otherwise, because they had placed these prisoners where the Constitution allegedly did not apply.

They do have a legal precedent for this, no matter how morally flawed it may be.

The Dred Scot decision was instrumental in re-defining the words "the people" from their obvious English meanings to a bastardized form of legalese which meant 'citizen'. Justice Taney, clearly uncomfortable with the idea of a black man roaming the country while not on a leash, grasped at a straw and denied Dred Scot his freedom by claiming he was not a citizen. This decision had the convenient future legal justification for the government to ignore the Constitution when operating in foreign countries. The Dred Scot decision has never been overturned. In fact, it was re-affirmed only 28 years ago in US. v Verdugo-Urquidez wherein Justice Rehnquist claimed that "the people" was a "term of art" alluding to citizens, thus denying foreign defendants certain rights.

As bizarre as the logic was, Rehnquist couldn't bring himself to render the term "person" to mean citizen:

The Fourth Amendment phrase "the people" seems to be a term of art used in select parts of the Constitution and contrasts with the words "person" and "accused" used in Articles of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments regulating criminal procedures. (emphasis added)

This "failure" of Rehnquist was the Bush administration's bane for which they required a final loophole.

The Bush administration had redefined certain techniques as being just shy of torture, made sure not to keep any suspect on US soil when possible and then, the pièce de résistance, refused to accuse them of any crimes. In this fashion they could deny them constitutionally-protected rights that even Rehnquist acknowledged were not limited to citizens including Habeus Corpus beause they weren't "accused". No rights are limited to mere citizens in actuality. As was stated in the Declaration of Independence, our rights are endowed by virtue of birth, not by legislative folly.

Had anyone in the media investigated the reasoning behind the fifth amendment's addition to the constitution, the American public might not have had to suffer through these torturous terms of art. It was added to prevent the then-common practice of torture to coerce defendants into incriminating themselves.

The genesis of the fifth amendment coincides with the settling of Plymouth by the Puritans who sought asylum from a tyrannical British government. John Lilburne, a terrorist to the British government, was a Puritan and one of the most famous defendants subjected to the Star Chamber. Liburne was persecuted almost his entire life by the British government for his belief and advocation of the rights of man by birthright rather than government decree. His tenacity, in one case while publicly flogged he turned the ordeal into an anti-government rally, inspired his fellow Britons to nick-name him "Freeborn John." He pushed for a written constitution in England and his drafts and final version were inspirations to the founding fathers. His importance with regard to the bill of rights and fifth amendment specifically have been acknowledged in several important Supreme Court decisions including the Miranda decision.

The practice of torture to extract confessions of criminal acts and even heresy, was commonplace during Lilburne's time and even made its way to the North American continent. The constitution, which conferred no power to the federal government to engage in the practice and explicitly forbid it to do so by way of the fifth amendmnent, abolished not only torture but denied authority to compel a defendant to testify at all in his own trial.

Yet today, the media and a good number of politicians allegedly bound by oath to that same constitution, argue that utility and safety demand we allow our government to use 'extraordinary means' to coerce people into admitting guilt before they have even been charged with a crime. Laying aside any argument that certain coercive interrogation techniques are torture, the government has no authority to use any coercive means to extract a confession or incriminating testimony. Since all categories of coercion are forbidden, the argument over whether or not waterboarding is torture is rendered utterly moot.

The neocons have argued (and still do argue) that torture should be allowed in order to protect us all from "extremists", but in their haste have failed to consider (either purposefully or accidentally) what might happen if they were themselves deemed "enemy combatants" or extremists by their own government.

Now that is bad enough to make one nauseus. However, when you consider the number of people tortured and imprisoned by the US government since 2003, without any possibility of legal recourse or release, it is hard not to conclude that those responsible, from the President to the morally deficient prison guards, need to have their roles immediately reversed. What they have wrought is criminal in nature and lesser criminals have reaped the death penalty. The people locked up in the various detention facilities deserve justice as much as any "citizen" of these United States but the current administration is apparently in no mood to serve up any justice. It is, however, perfectly willing to serve up more torturous terms of art.

Apr 28, 2009

The fine print: Swine Flu is another excuse to consolidate power

In another example of how the media is just an unpaid PR arm for the government, this Australian headline was shared by an Aussie friend on face book: "Hunt for 22 on Mexico flu flight"

Not too far down the page we can find this perfect little gem of government disrespect for the people they claim to protect.

"Australian health authorities were given sweeping powers to forcibly detain and isolate suspected carriers late yesterday."

Elsewhere, it's reported that North Carolina health officials are putting their citizens under forced quarantine - essentially a house arrest.

And over what? Apparently only 18 of the 200 that have died in Mexico city have been tested and definitively connected to this "new" flu strain. The CDC claims that 30-40,000 people die in this country from flu. But so far, nobody in any country outside Mexico has died from the misnamed swine flu. Yet public health authorities are panicking and asking us to panic right along with them. How panicky is enough? Why that it will be just perfect for them if you give them broad police powers that allow them to detain you, lock you up and inject you with whatever medication will enrich their big-Pharma benefactors.

Apr 6, 2009

Goering on War

From The Nuremberg Diary by Gustave Gilbert.
Sweating in his cell in the evening, Goering was defensive and deflated and not very happy over the turn the trial was taking. He said that he had no control over the actions or the defense of the others, and that he had never been anti-Semitic himself, had not believed these atrocities, and that several Jews had offered to testify in his behalf. If [Hans] Frank [Governor-General of occupied Poland] had known about atrocities in 1943, he should have come to him and he would have tried to do something about it. He might not have had enough power to change things in 1943, but if somebody had come to him in 1941 or 1942 he could have forced a showdown. (I still did not have the desire at this point to tell him what [SS General Otto] Ohlendorf had said to this: that Goering had been written off as an effective "moderating" influence, because of his drug addiction and corruption.) I pointed out that with his "temperamental utterances," such as preferring the killing of 200 Jews to the destruction of property, he had hardly set himself up as champion of minority rights. Goering protested that too much weight was being put on these temperamental utterances. Furthermore, he made it clear that he was not defending or glorifying Hitler.


We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

Feb 21, 2009

Mobile Marketing: How Smart Phones Muddy Waters

“Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.” - American Marketing Association (2004)
The term "mobile marketing" has been used widely, but as mobile device technology continues to evolve, its meaning becomes less and less clear. As early as 2004, when it became obvious that consumers were embracing smart phones, academia was beginning to question(pdf) whether or not the term mobile marketing would retain any meaning over the long term.

With the introduction of smart phones, there has been a divergence in the use of the term. Before smartphones were available, it was generally limited to include text message advertising but even so, falls well short of describing what actually occurs when SMS messaging is used to market a product or service.

After smartphones became available, the term became even less clear. Its use now includes the smartphones themselves, the operating systems and applications available to smart phone owners. Indeed, if you read 10 articles about mobile marketing you may find that only 1 or 2 refer to the same subject matter. This is bad news for industry advocates and those seeking to introduce their brand via cell phones.

To make matters even more confusing, if one were to judge by the sheer volume of news stories and blog articles about smart phones, one could easily come to the conclusion that there are far more smart phones in use than there are in reality.

For firms interested in finding out about mobile marketing, the lack of clarity can be a source of confusion. A simple inquiry can raise more questions than it answers. Just what is mobile marketing? How does my company get involved? What type of campaign will result in the greatest ROI?

Forget The Hype, For Now

In spite of (or perhaps because of) the iPhone hype, Apple announced at the recent MacWorld expo that it, so far, sold 4 million units . Let's put this into perspective. It is estimated that as of 2007 over half of the world's population has a cellphone, or roughly 3.3 billion cell phones in use. The iPhone will definitely expand its market share, but it only represents a little over 1% of the total market at this time. The RIM Blackberry is now in the hands of about 12 million which represents a higher market share but still only about 3% of the total market.

Depending on your business this may not discourage you from targeting smartphone users exclusively, but most businesses do not have the luxury of such exclusivity.

The vast majority of cell phone users own a device which can only make calls and send and receive text messages.

SMS Is Still King

Even smartphones have embraced SMS by introducing qwerty keyboards in some form or another. SMS messaging, or "texting" is not declining with the introduction of smartphones but continues to increase at a rate faster than email rates. 97% of all phones in the US have SMS capabilities and 50% have browsers.

Clearly, based on the available data, marketing to cell phone users via text messaging and WAP/browser represents the largest potential audience.

Convenient Interaction

Marketing to Mobile (M2M) using SMS has netted companies something they have never been able to accomplish using traditional media advertising. In the strictest sense of the word, SMS campaigns go far beyond advertising.

Traditional advertising campaigns represent a constant source of missed opportunities. Since most media campaigns are targeted in publications or shows to which a particular demographic audience has access, the advertiser relies on repetition in order to embed his brand in the consumer's memory.

With SMS, the advertiser has an opportunity to put the brand right in the customer's hand at the earliest opportunity. In addition, because SMS campaigns are able to deliver contextual information based on the customer's input, there are no missed opportunities. The consumer is engaged from the moment of his first response. Advertising campaigns are transformed from a perpetual missed opportunity to a marketing opportunity.

How SMS Marketing Changes the Game

Consider the most famous mobile marketing campaign apart from the Obama campaign, American Idol. AT&T recently announced that the American Idol SMS voting campaign shattered all previous records and generated a staggering 78 Million SMS messages during the last season.

Fox used SMS messaging to give viewers a way to interact with their programming. In this particular case, viewers could vote for their favorite contestant. This engagement has boosted the show's ratings to the number one show on television among several demographic splits.

Fox Sports allows users to also use texting to interact with live talk-show broadcasts by voting or even sending in comments. Jim Rome now reads almost as many "text hits" on his show as he does emails. Allowing customers to interact has been a boost to the brands that have adopted interaction. The rise of talk-radio can be attributed to its interactive nature.

Obviously, talk-radio and television represent a small minority of businesses. However, SMS offers business a unique opportunity to become interactive with its customer base and it can do so without having to hire a 24/7 call center staff to make this happen.

Recruiting and SMS Marketing

So, how can companies take advantage of SMS marketing? One approach is to use SMS as a business automation platform for recruiting. It especially makes sense for companies seeking to fill hourly positions.

There are approximately 76 Million hourly workers in the US. Retail, food service and hospitality turnover rates are anywhere between 100-130%. The business costs of filling these positions - planning, advertising, screening interviewing - are hard to quantify but are significant nonetheless. SMS marketing offers a unique way to reach potential employees while significantly reducing the cost of providing information back to applicants. Coupled with mobile web sites which deliver standardized job applications and contact forms, SMS becomes a very powerful medium with which to recruit and track applicants.

It also offers a sales channel that you may not have considered: your own customers. If you have a public establishment, your customers could be one of your best marketing channels. Parents with college-age sons and daughters looking for work can easily forward your recruiting text message to them. Virtually any shopper who knows somebody looking for work or who frequents an establishment is a potential marketing channel.

SMS' viral nature cannot be overstated. It is the ultimate in social media as it doesn't require special software or hardware that isn't already available on almost all of the cell phones that your customers possess.

While there may be opportunities for companies to market to customers using targeted to the variety of smart phone operating systems, it will be quite a while before this provides a significant return on investment.

Feb 17, 2009

Will the browser die?

I think so. I haven't looked to see who else agrees with this but in looking at Twitter's API and the number of clients that have sprung up, I am certain that we will soon see the browser's demise - for the most part. I imagine that there will be some use for browsers but specialization appears to be on the rise.

TweetDeck and Twhirl are specific to twitter but look also at "Spotify" - similar to itunes - which opts for a specialized client rather than a browser interface.

This may seem counter-intuitive. Who wants to run 5 applications in order to get access to web apps? The problem is that HTML over httpd is so limiting and challenging to engineering teams, that it actually may make sense to spend time supplying clients that work on different platforms rather than wading through css hell just to make an app look and act the same for the variety of browsers available.

What may end up driving a move to specialized client development is smart-phone adoption. If you think the time and effort required to deal with IE vs Firefox is bad, try developing an app that works well on a mobile browser. With most of the 2.0 applications making heavy use of image buttons, javascript and CSS - which is spotty at best on a mobile browser, it makes little sense to spend time on such efforts until mobile browsers evolve. But why do it at all when you could simply develop an app native to the mobile device that does the same thing without having to deal with css or javascript?

This translates well to the PC. With broadband access becoming ubiquitous, we may see the end of the stateless web app. Really, the only thing preventing stateful apps from being developed was the HPPD protocol - which insists that everything delivered over the internet be ASCII - and the limited bandwidth available on the internet. That is obviously changing rapidly and broadband cell networks such as 3G and the smartphones which connect to them are pushing us closer and closer to a time when the browser may be a dinosaur rotting in the La Brea tar pits right beside the 56k modem.

Feb 11, 2009


Somebody sent this to me via email. Love it.

Jan 13, 2009

Twitter Experiment Part part Deux: Where is this all going?

Somebody retweeted my twitter experiment article today and I thought I might offer up an update. Since I've been using twitter as @guykawasaki mentors, I have made mistakes, learned from them, made more mistakes and realize just how patient people can be.

For one, in my last piece, I totally failed to include anywhere in my post what my twitter user is. (@rfisk). Marketing idiocy #1.

If you share something and somebody finds it valuable, an absence of contact information is a failure of epic proportions - Homerus Marketeblus - 654 B.C

That aside, I have been thinking about social marketing in general and twitter specifically. I believe that the web as we know it will disappear within the next 5 years, and twitter is the canary in the coal mine. In this case though, it only spells tragedy for people and companies who do not take a closer look at what twitter has done here.

Note: I've never set foot in a college but for an electronics class back in the mid 80's. You need to know that because I am not going to write here from an academic point of view but from personal experience. Sometimes personal experience is very useful and sometimes it can be wrong due to personal bias. I do not suggest I am a social marketing expert. I'm not even a marketing expert. I do however have some relevant experience which has provided me some insight I think you might find interesting.

That being said, I have been working in software and specifically delivering Software as a Service, since the mid 90s. I wrote one of the first on-line ordering CGI sites back in 1993 before anyone trusted their credit cards to an online provider. We sold Porsche parts, and the "shopping cart" - if it could be called that - simply provided a printable form. I wrote it in Perl.

My day gigs were mostly working as a system administrator for some very large companies and I did a 5 year stint in a start-up that eventually failed. I was not in the founder's circle for that endeavor. It was a hardware company that competed with Sun Microsystems called Auspex Systems. The founder was the man who invented SCSI, Larry Boucher. Their file servers are revered even to this day by SA geeks but Auspex made some very poor business choices and finally declared bankruptcy. Most of their technical expertise abandoned ship to start Network Appliances. I went to Lycos to help manage their ad delivery network, and then Cisco to write software for SA's.

Five years ago, I went to work for (now Authoria) and after some wonderful experiences there, decided to take the start-up plunge.

In my 20+ years working in Silicon Valley and now Austin, I've seen so much change in technology and business practice it boggles my mind. When I landed my first entry-level job in 1986, Apple had recently introduced the little Macintosh. And I mean little. It had a tiny vacuum tube screen in monochrome. Some of the major Silicon Valley companies were Wang, Control Data Systems (though not headquartered in SV) Sun, Apollo, HP (Silicon Graphics was just in start-up mode), Xerox, DEC, Intel and Apple.

There was no internet even close to what we see today. The browser wouldn't be invented for another 5 years. Email was literally slower in most cases than post-office mail. Really. UUCP delivered mail from one mainframe or VAX machine via modem and to save on long-distance phone charges, would dial a machine and tell it to please call the next in line so the email could arrive 3000 miles away having never made anything other than a local call.

This isn't to say that LANs were as archaic. Sendmail existed but it's goodness was limited to the LAN. If you wanted to send to somebody in Boston (only high-tech or government employees even had an email address as we know it now) you had to find a map of the machine names between you and your colleague or acquaintance. (!!!). It was a pain. No open ports. But there was porn even then and very creative ways were invented to encrypt and compress it into ASCII so it could be posted to USENET. Some things never change.

This may end up a bit long but Please bear with me.


Wang probably had one of the largest advertising budgets I can remember in the late 80's. They had ads on every radio station in the Bay Area. Wang sold proprietary computer systems that included their own proprietary network protocols. Their business model was to essentially to offer a good network and lock companies into buying all of the peripherals they manufactured which could connect using those proprietary protocols; printers, tape storage, etc.

This model was not unique. Apple also had their own network protocols. Network standardization was 5-10 years away. Apple and Novel were the last holdouts.

Wang went belly up shortly after DNS became a real hit and the backbone was converted to TCP/IP rather than modem. It happened very quickly because their competitors were already adopting TCP/IP for internal LANs where Wang resisted. They didn't adapt.

Innovation by Accident.

Part of that story must include ethernet. Ethernet was invented at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Xerox didn't think it was a profitable invention and gave it away. You should thank Xerox on every possible occasion. It changed the world even though their management (I'm sure the inventors didn't agree) didn't believe it was terribly useful.

I call this "innovation by accident" not because the inventors just stumbled upon it, but because the useful innovation occurred after the fact. A tool's potential was not realized until it was delivered to a large number of people who turned it this way and that in their minds and started creating incredible possibilities with it.

Of all the social networking ideas which have been brought to fruition, I think twitter has the most potential as a game-changer. My reasoning around this has to do with the size - 140 ASCII characters. That is just under the 160 allowed by SMS text on a cell phone - another accidental innovation which allowed carriers to notify you of a waiting voice mail message. Hint to Twitter - this leaves 20 chars for advertising.

Twitter wasn't the first to see potential in SMS. Other companies have used SMS for years as a means to market to consumers. However, Twitter is the first web-based application so far that could potentially eliminate the browser as a web standard.


1. Its simplicity. Twitter is similar to Google search in its simplicity. It's easy to use and its utility is as limitless as are other simple tools like a hammer or screwdriver. Anyone can learn its basic use in minutes. The downfall (in my opinion) of many other social networking apps is their complexity and dependence on the browser over the long term.

2. Hosting costs.
A huge advantage that twitter will have over say, Facebook is just the sheer resource drain that desktop video and images are when building a storage and delivery system.

3. The API.
Twitter's real utility can be found through the API. Twitter in fact is far easier to manage when used from one of the down-loadable non-browser applications that have been springing up.

I believe that eventually we won't be using browsers to connect to the internet. Over the past 15 years, the web evolved from html pages made "exciing" using <blink> tags - to amazing css tricks - to web 2.0 which is itself merely an attempt to get around limitations of the browser and the http protocol which demands that everything delivered be converted to ASCII. Ajax was created to simulate the way that desktop client applications acted.

But that's just the technical side. Twitter is becoming the next accidental innovation on par with ethernet. It isn't just another social networking site, it's a twool. And its usefulness will only increase. Its developers had the decency to keep its interface simple. They didn't try to add features when follow/follower lists became unmanageable. They didn't fix what wasn't necessarily broke. By merely providing a robust API instead, they encouraged users and developers to bridge the gap. Witness the number of apps that have sprung up to slice and dice its data.

This is all development work that the Twitter team has not had to waste time inventing, planning, releasing, supporting and marketing - and potentially screwing up. Ultimately, they could buy the very companies who provided the useful applications having never burned any seed-money on ideas that weren't embraced by their users.

It's the opposite of the traditional acquisition strategy. Sure, companies like to buy startups that have a successful track record, but with software companies, they then have to integrate the technology into existing frameworks. In this case there's almost nothing to do but slap the twitter brand on it and it's a real twitter product.

One possible way to generate revenue is simply to deliver ads in the free version of a tool like TweetDeck and charge for versions which don't deliver ads.

Another revenue opportunity is an acquisition of smart phone application developer or product. At a dollar a download for an iPhone/Android/Palm follower/manager or other twitter niche product, the revenue potential is enormous over time. With companies and users flocking to twitter to market their brands and engage their customers, twitter clients could become company-wide expenditures and be far more effective an expense than traditional marketing channels.

The potential here for changing the world (twitter has already changed the world) beyond social networking is intense. Companies would be wise to follow what twitter has accomplished whether they intended to construct this new paradigm or not.

Though you and I may not be the next Cisco or Microsoft, we can also emulate this pattern because it has an underlying philosophy to match: Don't try and be something you are not.

By focusing on your strengths and building networks which include people with the skills you lack, you don't need to know everything or control every outcome. The old practice of hiding weaknesses or spinning them as strength will be turned on its head if it hasn't been turned already. People do figure it out. @perrybelcher has some extremely good videos explaining his vision of transparency and your social presence which illustrate this. Check him out and thanks for reading this. Your feedback is appreciated. @rfisk

Jan 12, 2009

Help a Brother Out

As you can see, I have been updating the template here and have lost some good links. If you used to be on my blog list and aren't anymore, I promise it's not a snub. I just screwed up when updating the template. Please either add a comment or send me an email and I'll add you back.

Jan 10, 2009

Creating Terror

I have a new article up at United Liberty, Creating Terror.

In the U.S. we cry out when our government rewards companies who manage their businesses poorly. But we don’t seem to have any problem giving out billions to governments that cannot manage their affairs or protect the rights of their citizens. But that is exactly what we are doing in the case of Israel and Palestine. It is Israel’s responsibility to secure its own peace. However, its actions make it quite clear that it wants nothing to do with peace. The same can be said of Hamas.

Both sides just suck and the people who live there are being punished.

Jan 7, 2009

Shades of Red

United Liberty published one of my articles. The neocons have descended on twitter thinking that enough technology will win elections.

Very few conservatives today seem to realize that the “strong defense” label applied to this Wilsonian/Trotskyite nonsense is just so much spin. Prior to 9/11, nation-building - U.N. doublespeak for aggressive invasion - was a reviled phrase in old-right circles. Once 9/11 occurred, it was acceptable to defend these same failed policies because the event “changed everything.” But, if 9/11 changed everything, why didn’t foreign policy change?

Because 9/11 didn’t change anything. 9/11 merely gave neoconservatives a ready-made excuse to further escalate. The constant threat of terrorism issued by neoconservative columnists alienated the anti-war faction of the GOP base, and convinced the mushy GOP moderates to support what they had so recently protested under Clinton. So much did they protest nation-building prior to 9/11, they elected a Republican as President who promised not to engage in it.

Jan 3, 2009

BEWARE: Twitter PHISHING SCAM hits users hard

At 4:52 I received a private message from a follower that read:
hey! check out this funny blog about you...
I clicked on the link and it redirected to I am pretty sure that the guy who "sent" it, was already a victim and whomever hijacked his account was the person who sent me the DM.

There's no problem clicking on the link, the problem is in being fooled into thinking you must login to twitter in order to see it. But it's not twitter and so some clever people (or not really that clever) ended up with an unknown number of twitter accounts in which to perpetuate the phony "blog about you" message.

What makes this so insidious is that DM's can only come from your "trusted" network. My belief is that the hackers were going to use this in order to create a SPAM network where they could advertise via DM.

There's not a lot of personal information stored in profiles so it doesn't seem likely that they had anything more sinister in mind.

Update III: Lots of people fell for this and the phisher is using new messages. I have received many since Saturday when I first posted this with this new message:

  • fixed it.. hehe here is that blog i wanted to show you

The perpetrators are apparently from China:

Domain Name      :
PunnyCode        :

  Organization   : zhang xiaohu
  Name           : zhang xiaohu
  Address        : changningzhonghuainanlu192hao
  City           : changning
  Province/State : Hunan
  Country        : CN
  Postal Code    : 421500

Administrative Contact:
  Name           : zhang xiaohu
  Organization   : zhang xiaohu
  Address        : changningzhonghuainanlu192hao
  City           : changning
  Province/State : Hunan
  Country        : CN
  Postal Code    : 421500
  Phone Number   : 86-0734-3211451
  Fax            : 86-0734-3211451
  Email          :

Technical Contact:
  Name           : zhang xiaohu
  Organization   : zhang xiaohu
  Address        : changningzhonghuainanlu192hao
  City           : changning
  Province/State : Hunan
  Country        : CN
  Postal Code    : 421500
  Phone Number   : 86-0734-3211451
  Fax            : 86-0734-3211451
  Email          :

Billing Contact:
  Name           : zhang xiaohu
  Organization   : zhang xiaohu
  Address        : changningzhonghuainanlu192hao
  City           : changning
  Province/State : Hunan
  Country        : CN
  Postal Code    : 421500
  Phone Number   : 86-0734-3211451
  Fax            : 86-0734-3211451
  Email          :

Be careful out there.....

Update: I've pulled the user names. Twitter is on the case.

Update II: I *think* I may have been the first to report this at exactly 17:00. Twitter tweeted about it at 17:19 CDT, added a warning on their homepage linking here