Special Guest Post from the UK: Cat Vincent brings us “Rate Of Return: Woolwich, 4GW and Kayfabe.”

Posted by on May 27th, 2013

In this special guest post, Cat Vincent reports from the UK on the aftermath of the Woolwich attack, and 4GW (Fourth Generation Warfare).

Rate Of Return: Woolwich, 4GW and Kayfabe.

The recent murder of a soldier by two men on the streets of London has produced a wave of shock and horror around the world.

It has also produced a vicious backlash, both officially and otherwise: the British government has responded with increasing pressure for near-total internet surveillance to be put into law and also restricting the availability of certain ‘radical’ Muslim websites, while the thuggish forces of the neo-Nazi English Defence League have staged several highly-publicised (but poorly-attended – tens or hundreds at most) marches and riots.

At the same time, a heavily organized and well-planned series of non-violent actions (protests in dozens of cities across the world, with literally millions in attendance) against the Monsanto corporation were all but ignored in the popular press. Why is this?

I don’t think it’s as simple or as cynical as the old saying “if it bleeds, it leads”… though certainly, that’s a factor. What it makes me think about specifically is the theoretical work of writer John Robb on the subject of 4th Generation Warfare (4GW).

Robb, a former USAF special ops pilot and security consultant, discussed the concept of 4GW – effectively, the warfare conducted by small non-state actors against heavily militarized governments – at length in his blog Global Guerillas. One of his key concepts in why 4GW is so effective is that of the “return on investment” (RoI). From Robb’s book, Brave New War:

In the summer of 2004, Iraq’s global guerrillas attacked a southern section of the Iraqi oil pipeline infrastructure (Iraq has over 4,300 miles of pipelines). This attack cost the attackers an estimated $2,000 to produce. None of the attackers was caught. The effects of this attack were over $50 million in lost oil exports. The rate of return: 250,000 times the cost of the attack.

It’s clear that the return on investment for the Woolwich attack is considerable, probably on a level of millions to one – committing the UK government to millions, even billions of pounds in police, military and counter-intelligence spending for no more than a couple of hundred quid on some knives and axes and a rusty old revolver. (In fact the cost is so low, the action having been performed by just two people, it makes the attack close to being what the writer Brainsturbator described in his Skilluminati blog as 5GW – warfare committed by “super-empowered individuals” – though in this case, the empowerment comes from their media use more than their actual tool set. Skilluminati in general, and the 5GW Project in particular, are I think vital mind-tools for the aware Grinder.)

Yesterday, I put a mention of the RoI of the Woolwich murder on Twitter (which is what prompted the Grinding editorship to ask for this article). The main thing I didn’t get the space to expand upon there was the question of cui bono? – if there’s a return on investment for such a violent action, who actually profits from it?

A clue about this appeared on my Twitter stream not long after, in a conversation between Brainsturbator and Damien Williams (@wolven) of this parish: the subject of conversation was not terrorism, but a term from professional wrestling: Kayfabe.

To quote from the brilliant Edge essay by Eric Weinstein (who is best known this month for possibly reconciling all modern physics)

Because professional wrestling is a simulated sport, all competitors who face each other in the ring are actually close collaborators who must form a closed system (called “a promotion”) sealed against outsiders. With external competitors generally excluded, antagonists are chosen from within the promotion and their ritualized battles are largely negotiated, choreographed, and rehearsed at a significantly decreased risk of injury or death. With outcomes predetermined under Kayfabe, betrayal in wrestling comes not from engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct, but by the surprise appearance of actual sporting behavior. Such unwelcome sportsmanship which “breaks Kayfabe” is called “shooting” to distinguish it from the expected scripted deception called “working”.
Were Kayfabe to become part of our toolkit for the twenty-first century, we would undoubtedly have an easier time understanding a world in which investigative journalism seems to have vanished and bitter corporate rivals cooperate on everything from joint ventures to lobbying efforts. …What makes Kayfabe remarkable is that it gives us potentially the most complete example of the general process by which a wide class of important endeavors transition from failed reality to successful fakery.

One of the consistent myths of pro wrestling is the concept of the “face” and the “heel” – the good guy and the bad guy. Within the consensus reality of the Kayfabe, these are mortal foes… right up to the point where one or the other makes a “heel-face turn”, the good guy becoming the bad or vice versa. (Like, say, the ‘heroic rebels’ of the CIA-sponsored Mujahideen becoming the post-9/11 enemy…) But in reality, they’re still just performers in a symbolic, mythical struggle. Whether they consciously co-operate or not, both sides need the struggle in order to continue their identity, to define their reality.

So, again – who profits? Those invested – emotionally, financially – in the game, on both supposed sides. The extremists; the governments who seek any excuse to cow the populous, to keep every single person scared and surveilled; the radicals who want to tear down anything that doesn’t look exactly like their fantasy world (be it Dar-al-Islam or Rule Britannia); the corporations that sell the weapons to them all or, like Monsanto, rely on the distraction to conceal their agenda. And, by pure coincidence, those who want to tame the internet, to stop those who don’t want to suffer for their gain from finding out more about the truth behind the spectacle. Anyone who wants to play another game, wants a future of co-operation not competition, strength for all instead of profit-and-loss… are just collateral damage for the drones and the thugs.

John Robb doesn’t write about 4GW directly that much, these days. In his consideration of precisely how one should defend against it, he came to understand the necessity of working towards the living conditions which are most effective in resisting terrorism in general and such cheap RoI attacks in particular – decentralized infrastructure, local and networked co-operation unlocked from hierarchy. People acting in groups sharing common goals, working towards long-term building of resilient communities rather than zero-sum enemies to be obliterated. A long-term solution that strives to bypass the reflexive tit-for-tat of this conflict, to benefit all.

As I wrote this, the EDL marched on Whitehall. Again, only a couple of hundred of them, faced with a similar number of anti-fascist protesters. Supposed patriots are giving Nazi salutes and fighting police in the very heart of British governance, claiming to be protecting England against the infidel. Another front in The Forever War opened these past few days… and for those who aren’t part of the kayfabe, who strive to break past the fourth wall of us-and-them, resilience is becoming that much harder. We have to keep looking for the tools to grind our bodies, minds and tribes to be strong and flexible enough to endure the crushing pressures of these wrestling behemoths, to always remember that whoever appears to be the face or the heel… this should not, cannot be just war.

It must always be a rescue mission.

Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent is a writer and journalist on the Fortean beat, a contributing editor to The Daily Grail and a former professional combat magician. He lives in Yorkshire, England.


#droneculture news special 09/12/12

Posted by on December 9th, 2012
  • From io9:

    In the first trailer for Tom Cruise’s post-apocalyptic film Oblivion, Cruise is a drone repairman walking the shattered remains of Earth. But as he explores the planet humanity was forced to leave behind, he finds something he never expected to find, something that makes him question everything he’s been told about the conflict that destroyed the Earth.

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  • CNN Money’s look inside Israel’s drones:
  • Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US (EFF):

    The capabilities of these drones can be astounding. According to a recent Gizmodo article, the Puma AE (“All Environment”) drone can land anywhere, “either in tight city streets or onto a water surface if the mission dictates, even after a near-vertical ‘deep stall’ final approach.” Another drone, Insitu’s ScanEagle, which the Air Force has flown near Virginia Beach, sports an “inertial-stabilized camera turret, [that] allows for the tracking of a target of interest for extended periods of time, even when the target is moving and the aircraft nose is seldom pointed at the target.” Boeing’s A160 Hummingbird (see photo above), which the Air Force has flown near Victorville, California, is capable of staying in the air for 16-24 hours at a time and carries a gigapixel camera and a “Forester foliage-penetration radar” system designed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). (Apparently, the Army has had a bunch of problems with the Hummingbird crashing and may not continue the program.)

    Perhaps the scariest is the technology carried by a Reaper drone the Air Force is flying near Lincoln, Nevada and in areas of California and Utah. This drone uses “Gorgon Stare” technology, which Wikipedia defines as “a spherical array of nine cameras attached to an aerial drone . . . capable of capturing motion imagery of an entire city.” This imagery “can then be analyzed by humans or an artificial intelligence, such as the Mind’s Eye project” being developed by DARPA. If true, this technology takes surveillance to a whole new level.

    Another scary aspect of the Air Force’s drone program is the number of times Predator and Reaper drones have crashed. The Washington Post wrote about crashes at civilian airports abroad a few days ago, and the Air Force presents some statistics on actual incidents and the potential for crashes in New Mexico in a document titled “Operational Risk Analysis of Predator/Reaper Flight Operations in a Corridor between Cannon AFB and Melrose Range (R-5104A).” This document notes that “8 incidents [involving Predators] occurred over a period of 79,177 flying hours.” (p. 8). A risk analysis table from the report is below.

  • Police drone crashes into police SWAT team (SALON):

    The Montgomery County sheriff’s office in Texas had planned a big photo opportunity with their newly acquired surveillance drone. It all went horrible wrong when, according to the Examiner, “[The] prototype drone was flying about 18 feet off the ground [and] it lost contact with the controller’s console on the ground. It’s designed to go into an auto shutdown mode … but when it was coming down, the drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored vehicle.” (The SWAT team had suited up, armored vehicle on hand, for the purpose of the photo.)

    “Not only did the drone fail, and not only did it crash, it literally crashed into the police. It’s no wonder we’re not able to find a video of this spectacular publicity failure,” noted Gizmodo.The CRP–Hearst report explicitly listed collisions as a concern insufficiently addressed by lawmakers in the so-called “drone caucus,” who have pushed an agenda to hurry drones into the hands of police departments and private corporations.

  • California Eyeing Drone Surveillance (WIRED):

    Alameda County is moving to become one of dozens of local law enforcement agencies nationwide to deploy the unmanned crafts. Some of the agencies include the Seattle Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    The move comes three months after the Government Accountability Office warned Congress that its push for drones to become commonplace in U.S. airspace fails to take into account privacy, security and even GPS jamming and spoofing. The GAO, Congress’ research arm, was responding to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, signed by President Barack Obama in February, which among other things requires the Federal Aviation Administration to accelerate drone flights in U.S. airspace.

    Alameda County, in the Bay Area, is home to Oakland, the scene of violent Occupy protests last year.

    Weeks ago, the sheriff told a local NBC affiliate that it was a “no-brainer” when it came to deploying a drone.

  • Leap and LabVIEW Controlled Quadrotor:
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  • Jame “New Aesthetic” Bridle gives us The Drone Vernacular:

    In the second week at the VFL, I’ve been continuing modelling and printing for the final residency product, which should be completed next week.

    I’ve also been looking at the ways in which drones manifest and are visualised, used and normalised in the world. (This is as good a time as any to note that I’m specifically interested in military drones, not the DIY type, quadrocopters, civilian drones etc – although there are clearly interesting connections to be articulated between these, and the designation of civilian is also problematic.)

    These are some of the first images that got me interested in drones. They are photographs from anti-drone protests in Pakistan, credited where possible…


NYPD vs CultureJammer round2 #droneculture

Posted by on December 1st, 2012

“Drones: Protection When You Least Expect It” by ESSAM (full rez here)

I’ll let Gawker do the talking:

Essam Attia is the New York street artist responsible for placing fake NYPD ads reading “Drones: Protection When You Least Expect It” around town. In September, he gave a video interview to Animal NY, with his identity and voice obscured, in which he discussed this project and his art in general. Wednesday morning, the NYPD arrested him at home.

The NYDN reports that he’s charged with “56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny possession of stolen property and weapons possession,” the last (and possibly worst) charge coming because cops found an unloaded .22 pistol under his bed when they arrested him. On a practical level, Attia was not the most careful art criminal. He signed his work “ESSAM;” and he told Animal that he was a “a 29-year-old art-school grad from Maine, who served in Iraq as a ‘geo-spatial analyst.’” It probably did not take an incredible amount of police work to narrow down the possibilities.

Still—great work by the NYPD to prove Essam’s point: you are all being watched. Poke humor at the ALL SEEING GOVERNMENT EYE, and it will make you pay. IT KNOWS ALL. In the Animal interview, author Matt Harvey noted, “He agrees that there is an inherent irony in his spoofs: the very fact that the NYPD (which claims to be strongly pursuing him with their ‘counter terrorism squad’) hasn’t caught him yet, is proof that we have not reached a state of Orwellian control.”

Ah…. cancel that.

[Photo via Animal]


PLURALITY [short film]

Posted by on October 6th, 2012
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via @leashless | falkvinge


Enemies of the Internet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by on September 17th, 2012

Enemies Of The Internet

Created by:
Open-Site.org


#NDAA #TrapWire Resistance is not futile

Posted by on August 22nd, 2012

The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology [GUARDIAN]

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TrapWire: The Truth Behind The Hype [STORIFY]
My Abraxas and TrapWire Saga [Tim Shorrock]

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How to Make an Invisible Mask for Video Cameras [WIKIHOW]

http://www.vimeo.com/45819231

DARPA-Funded Researcher Can Take Over Android And Nokia Phones By Merely Waving Another Device Near Them [FORBES]

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#cryptoparty

When reality resembles one product of the Nolan brothers (Person of Interest), how long until it’s a Bane’esque “fire rising” taking centre stage?

North Korea builds EMP munition [DEFENSETECH]

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Richard Stallman: Extreme Capitalism is driving us to disaster

Posted by on August 22nd, 2012
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Stallman really gets going from 6m30s.


Democracy Now interview NSA whistleblower William Binney, journalist Laura Poitras & hacker Jacob Appelbaum #longwatch

Posted by on April 23rd, 2012


Instagram’s new ikon

Posted by on April 17th, 2012

via Instagram of course


What are you looking at? (PIC)

Posted by on February 9th, 2012

 


Stencil by BANKSY, Photo by nolifebeforecoffee


Fun Fact: People are citizens while on the Internet too (SMBC)

Posted by on February 5th, 2012



The Coming War on General Purpose Computing – Cory Doctorow’s 28c3 keynote (VIDEO)

Posted by on December 28th, 2011

The copyright war was just the beginning…” Watch as Cory Docotorow extends the copyright struggle into a 100year battle. Stay for the extra QnA (30mins in) where he addresses many of the issues of the day.

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via BoingBoing

See Also:


Charles Stross draws the lines – accurately – between #SOPA and the Coming Insurrection

Posted by on December 18th, 2011

* title borrowed from Mark Pesce‘s tweet linking to Stross’s blogpost.

Here is Charlie Stross’s ‘view of contemporary US politics’ / flame-war bait. Watch him link SOPA and ‘the Coming Insurrection‘ in eight easy-to-follow steps (some steps not shown):

1. The USA is already a functional oligarchy. (Or, more accurately, a plutarchy.) It has been functioning as such for some time — since 1992 at the latest, although the roots of this system go back to before the Declaration of Independence — it’s a recurrent failure mode. Historically such periods last for a few years then go into reverse. However, this time the trend has been running since 1980 or even earlier. What we’re now seeing are the effects of mismanagement by the second generation of oligarchs in power; the self-entitled who were born to it and assume it to be the natural order of things.

3. Public austerity is a great cover for the expropriation of wealth by the rich (by using their accumulated capital to go on acquisition sprees for assets being sold off for cents on the dollar by the near-bankrupt state). But public austerity is a huge brake on economic growth because it undermines demand by impoverishing consumers. Consequently, we’re in for another long depression. (The outcome of this new long depression will be the same as that of the first one: the main industrial power — then it was the UK; now it’s the USA — will lose a lot of its remaining economic lead over its competitors and be severely weakened.)

7. Modern communications technologies (including the internet) provide people with a limitless channel for self-expression (not to mention distraction— endless circuses without the bread). They also provide the police state with a limitless flow of intelligence about the people. Note also that it’s possible to not merely listen in on mobile phone calls, but to use a mobile phone as a GPS-aware bugging device, and (with a bit more smarts) to have it report on physical proximity (within bluetooth range — about 20 feet) to other suspects. The flip side of social networking is that the police state knows all your acquaintances.

8. So I infer that the purpose of SOPA is to close the loop, and allow the oligarchy to shut down hostile coordinating sites as and when the anticipated revolution kicks off. Piracy/copyright is a distraction — those folks pointing to similarities to Iranian/Chinese net censorship regimes are correct, but they’re not focussing on the real implication (which is a ham-fisted desire to be able to shut down large chunks of the internet at will, if and when it becomes expedient to do so).

Read the whole thing, and stay for the comment war.


Who Monitors the Birds? (#droneculture)

Posted by on November 16th, 2011

Citizen journalism went to new heights in Warsaw, Poland just the other day:

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After the Mayor’s efforts to restrict the Press during the “clear out” of Occupy Wall Street, this technology should soon be standard issue for anyone wanting to preserve Raw History.

Who should be the early-adopters of this than the “good” “folks” at News Corp:

Rupert Murdoch’s pet project, The Daily, has some impressive aerial footage today of the devastation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which was obtained with an unusual tool.The Observer was the first to report, back in November, that the staff of the iPad app was working with “a journalistic secret weapon,” the Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter, also known as “The Flying Video Game.” Now they’re finally putting the thing to use, with a new feature called “Daily Drone.”

And just to clarify, “drone” refers to the unmanned chopper itself, not the announcer’s rather dry intonation.

And the Military-Entertainment Complex lurches a step closer to the world depicted in the excellent Mexican cyberpunk movie, Sleep Dealer:

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Liberté, égalité, fraternité, surveillance

Posted by on July 17th, 2011

From this isn’t happiness | tomorrow started, via Paul Graham Raven


Rebecca MacKinnon’s call for a ‘Magna Carta’ for the Internet

Posted by on July 15th, 2011

From NYT, A Call To Take Back The Internet from Corporations:

“The sovereigns of the Internet are acting like they have a divine right to govern,” said Ms. MacKinnon, whose book, ”Consent of the Networked,” will be published by Basic Books in January 2012. “They are in complete denial that there is something horrible they would ever do.” She gave a preview of her book at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday morning and in an interview.

Governments at this point rarely act directly to constrain the Internet; instead, their policies are mediated through privately owned and operated services, Ms. MacKinnon said. This is true of China, which maintains the famed Great Firewall that blocks sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook in favor of local services. But domestically, every year the Chinese government gives out “China Internet Self-Discipline Awards” to honor companies that voluntarily cooperate with its censorship policies. Baidu, which had been Google’s rival in China before the search giant redirected China users to its uncensored Hong Kong site in 2010, has been among the honorees.

Although “we don’t always do it very well,” people generally know how to hold governments accountable, particularly in a democracy, said Ms. MacKinnon. However, it’s still unclear how users can push back against private transnational companies on the Internet. The solution is most likely not for Congress or other lawmakers to pass regulations alone, she said. ”It’s going to require innovation that is not only going to need to focus on politics, on geopolitics, but is also going to need to deal with questions of business management, investor behavior and consumer choice,” she said.

Ms. MacKinnon, who made a similar argument at the Personal Democracy Forum last month, said companies should start thinking of their users more as constituents who have a voice in the policymaking. Also, good corporate governance policies, like the ones that have become standard for clothing manufacturing companies, could become more widespread. Google, for example, regularly releases a transparency report, which lists how many requests for information it receives from each government. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have helped develop a code of conduct around Internet freedom through the Global Network Initiative. However, Twitter and Facebook have not joined in, limiting the impact of the code.

Her PDF talk, The Consent of the Networked:

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In short: “I AM NOT A USER, I AM A FREE MAN!”

via @sfslim

UPDATE:

The Guardian is hosting the video of her TEDGlobal talk (which is, as specified, an expansion of the PDF one):


The “Predator”, or how to build a camera that learns

Posted by on April 4th, 2011

Via a whole bunch of people, who are justifiably equal parts excited and terrified about what this might lead to:

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My first question, how does it handle CV Dazzle? Find out yourself! More details, including the code itself, are available on developer Zdenek Kalal’s website.


Adam Greenfield’s Cognitive Cities keynote: On Public Objects

Posted by on March 18th, 2011

Here’s Adam Greenfield‘s excellent, thought-provoking keynote at the recent Cognitive Cities conference in Berlin – On Public Objects: Connected Things And Civic Responsibilities In The Networked City

http://www.vimeo.com/20875732

Related:


LIFT 11: Radical transparency and opaque algorithms

Posted by on February 8th, 2011

The LIFT 11 conference just concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. I’ve picked the two most interesting talks to post here, but there’s many others of course, and please feel free to post your favourites in the comments.

Hasan Elahi: Giving away your privacy to escape the US terrorist watch list

Hasan will tell us his incredible story: he was suspected of terrorism by the FBI by mistake, and ended up living totally in public to protect himself from surveillance. His talk will show how forfeiting your privacy can in fact become a new form of protection of your identity.

liftconference on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

Hasan concludes his talk by saying that if we all did what he does the intelligence community would be overwhelmed with information. Wrong; the NSA and others like it already do this. How? Algorithms running on incredibly powerful computer systems. Arguably a new lifeform, perhaps evolving to become the dominant one, if we believe the Singularitarians. Or is that already the case and we just haven’t realised it yet?

Kevin Slavin: Those algorithms that govern our lives

Digital technologies and on-line platforms are essential to the way we work and live. Interestingly, they are defined by algorithms which are not neutral. Kevin will discuss how they define new social norms and how our culture is affected by the possibilities embedded in the software we use.

liftconference on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

Policing Genes

Posted by on January 21st, 2011

The honey bee, pollinator and drug insect:

The genetics of the plants in your garden could become a police matter. Pharmaceutical companies are experimenting with genetically engineering plants to produce useful and valuable drugs. However, the techniques employed to insert genes into plants are within reach of the amateur… and the criminal. Policing Genes speculates that, like other technologies, genetic engineering will also find a use outside the law, with innocent-looking garden plants being modified to produce narcotics and unlicensed pharmaceuticals

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Via Next Nature.