A Bluff Was At Once, Genius & Ridiculous

Hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror – not war, poker.

I have been meaning to write this for some time. I was an “early adopter” of online poker. That is if you can use that phrase, which is normally associated with positivity, in the same sentence as something that is quite so negative. But anyway, I was an “early adopter”.

I was never much of a gambler. Growing up in a country famed for its stud farms, thoroughbred horses, and trainers I could have given a rats for horse racing and never liked or frequented the bookies. A lifelong participant in sport with a passion for Liverpool F.C, the “Dubs” and “the boys in green” – still I never laid a bet on a match.

And then there were cards. I always played cards. As a kid we played pontoon, don and five card hold’em. I used to ratchet up my pocket money each week by playing cards against the richer kids. Starting with a smaller stake, nearly always ending up with more than I started with. Sometimes I cheated. Well, you do don’t you. From time to time. When you’re a kid.

We used to play “in-betweens” which is basically betting on whether the next card will be in between the previous two or the same and there were odds. When we visited my country cousins we played 25 or 110.

And on it went every Saturday for a few years until I turned 16 or so and forgot all about cards really until I was in my early 30s.

Then poker went online and I bought a few books and joined a few sites and opened multiple accounts and won a few quid at the start. More or less, playing only now and again until 2008 when everyone decided that they wanted to be a poker pro.

I had accounts with Full Tilt (before they took everyones money), Ultimate Bet (before the internal cheating scandal), PokerStars, 888, and on and on and on.

Real quick – you sat at a table. People called other people “donkeys”, “fish”, “muppets”, “arseholes” and debated deeply philosophical points like “how the fuck could you call me with that shite”.

Everybody’s bluff was at the same time genius and the height of stupidity. And these excerpts from the complex social interactions and ponderings on sophisticated human behaviours were at the 1c/2c tables.

I moved up and played and with dozens of different usernames on several different sites. I won a shitload of cash.

Never a tournament player – always the cash games.

I had always held the view that the frequency of “bad beats” and outrageously good hands for several players at the same table were a sign that the whole thing was rotten.

I was rebuked and people pointed to the trustworthiness of the RNG’s that ran the games and that these “once in a lifetime” hands offline, occurred with such frequency online because of the exponentially greater number of hands being played and the speed of play.

Total unadulterated horse shit.

Forget about groups of players colluding. Forget about the trolling. Forget about the piranhas knocking about picking off the new winners. Forget about the Super-Users or the Admin password holders. Forget about all that. Just concentrate on what a massive fiddle it all is.

And then it happened.

I loaded USD$200 one night after re-opening my PokerStars account. I remember the night very well. I had just put the last of my three sons to bed and it was about 11pm. By 1am I had over three grand. I sat down at a six handed no-limit Texas hold’em table.

I played on and by 4am I had over US$38,000. Mike Matusow was at the table to my immediate right.

I was a “cerebral” player. I thought. Able to pick out the nuances of peoples innermost thoughts by how quickly or slowly they hit the call or raise button. What a “dick”.

I never “ran it twice”. The thing about poker players until they get owned is that they are the greatest self-obsessed, narcissistic shites that you could hope to meet.

At any rate a new player joined the table after another had exited, after being cleaned. I hovered over his avatar. He / She / It was from China.

A couple of hands passed and then I was dealt pocket bullets on the button. The Chinese “entity” was “under the gun” and flat called. There was a fold and the cut-off folded too (Matusow) and I raised.

The small blind folded and the big blind called. The Chinese “entity” then re-raised. I was an “aggressive” player I thought but on this occasion with the usual faux complexity with which poker obsessives view even the most simplistic decision – I decided to be “sneaky” and flat called the Oriental re-raise. The big blind folded. I was much worse at poker than I thought.

The flop was A, 10, 8.

The Chinese entity bet about 12 grand or something silly. I decided it was time and possessing “the nuts” straight up I went All-In. The “Beijing Bandit” snap called.

I had a minor concern that the dude could be holding pocket 8’s / 10’s and would hit a one outer but I didn’t think so.

Both our hole cards were now visible and turned over waiting for the Turn and River community cards in this epic showdown.

The “entity” had Q 8. I mean come on. He had bottom pair with a Q kicker. He needed “runner runner” 8’s to beat me. Thats odds of 0.0925% or one time in approximately 1080. I was bullet-proof.

The turn was an 8. I had a boat A’s & 8’s versus his set of 8’s.

He had a one outer. I was golden for the nanosecond that it took for the RNG to decide that the next card in this poker “random” universe would be an 8. And so it was.

The river was a 8.

And in the text box – the word “boom” appeared next to the entities name. This is the point in Western’s where a guy stands up (me) and shoots the “boom” guy between the eyes, for taking the piss and not having the wit or the wisdom to realise that he/she/it is a complete wanker.

In the VR of online poker it is replaced with bits of broken laptop sticking out from the wall opposite.

In my case it was different.

I closed the laptop lid and went to bed. I muttered “fuck that” on the way.

ENDS.

Where’s Your Head At? Let’s Call Content “Shit”

Re-blogged in it’s entirety & unchanged from Let’s Call Content “Shit” by The Ad Contrarian – except the video below. I added that for no reason whatsoever which also explains the blog post title “Where’s Your Head At?” which was just a transparent attempt to plug a Basement Jaxx video that I have always liked – which is most definitely NOT content – It’s a song played in an accompanying video. 

Here at the Ketel One Conference Center on the California Campus of The Ad Contrarian Global Headquarters we are unnaturally obsessed with the meaning of words.

This probably stems from spending too much time doing crossword puzzles when we should be working on the book we are supposedly writing. But let’s not dwell on unpleasantries.

Today let’s talk about one of our favorite topics — content.

Content is the grand obsession of the advertising industry these days. Although, frankly, the obsessions come and go so fast that if you miss three days of LinkedIn you may not even know that last week’s obsession is now officially dead and something else has come along to change everything.

Today I want to propose that we replace the word “content” with “shit.” This idea came to me after reading a piece in the Harvard Business Review by Greg Satell. I want to expand on Greg’s idea, and I think I can make a pretty compelling case for this recommendation.

Here’s the logic.

Everything meaningful has a specific designation. So if you write something with meaning and value it’s called a book, or a play, or a poem, or an essay.

But if you write something that does not have a specific designation — if it is not a book, or a play, or a poem, or an essay —  if it’s just a cluster of words you have gathered to “engage” an unsuspecting reader with your brand or your persona, it’s almost certainly a piece of shit.

If it just stayed put it would remain a piece of shit. But when you upload it to the web, it automatically gets promoted to content.

The same is true of a film or video recording. If it’s good, it’s a movie, or a program, or a video. But if it’s, say, a recording of your client’s manifesto about how he’s going to disrupt the frozen chicken industry then it’s content. And it’s almost certainly, shit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that your client is shit or that your directorial skills are shit, or that the frozen chicken is shit. I’m just saying that as an undertaking the aesthetic essence of the project is likely to be shit, and we should acknowledge it as such rather than hide it behind the polite term “content.” Let’s be proud of our shit!

You would never call a sonnet, or a ballet, or a movie “content.” They have specific identities and formal designations because they require talent and skill. But stuff that doesn’t require talent and skill? It’s shit by any name.

Like those pictures you take. The good ones are either art, or portraits, or, at worst, photography. But the really awful ones you put on Facebook — that picture of the tunafish sandwich you had for lunch, or your dog licking himself, or the adoring selfie — that shit iscontent. And that content is shit!

I hope I have convinced you because it is now time for me to get back to working on my book and stop wasting my time on this, um, content.

Post-truth, Fake-news and Big Data – Killing In The Name Of

In spite of the best efforts of Big Data acolytes to paint Big Data sceptics as Luddites (and, I have nothing against Luddites per se), the argument is babble, since the aged, brute-force and relatively unsophisticated approach to list creation and counting, isn’t that new and isn’t that smart and in many cases it certainly isn’t as uniquely cost-effective as it is touted to be either.

Moreover, it doesn’t even replace anyone with a machine – it just takes up time, money and patience – and worst of all, deflects attention away from more important initiatives and issues. So, no. Nothing to do with Luddites at all.

Nothing to do with ignorance of Big Data, nothing to do with clinging to the past, and, nothing to do with a refusal to embrace the new. It’s about pointing out amazing Big Data success stories that don’t deliver on their promise. It’s about calling bullshit on bullshit and the bombastic clowns who spread it.

Now, if there’s a cost-benefit advantage to be had, and the answer is Big Data technology, then one would simply use it. Naturally.

Source: Post-truth, Fake-news and Big Data

Is Kosinski “Tesla” to Nix’s “Marconi” for Big Data Psychographic Profiling?

Data Driven Democracy Where Opinions, Policies or Convictions Don’t Matter Just The Targeted Message on Facebook Dark Posts.

Cambridge Analytica (Steve Bannon, Board Member) owned by SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories) – the self styled “premier election management agency” – and how they “helped” Trump, Farage, Brexit, Cruz, Ukraine, Nigeria, Nepal & Afghanistan influence outcomes using data modelling and psychographic profiling.

I HAD never heard of Mr. Kosinski until I read an article in Motherboard last week. The incredibly interesting read entitled The Data That Turned the World Upside Down was written by Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus who work for Das Magazin with additional research by Paul-Olivier Dehaye.

It discusses a series of intersections between the work of Mr. Kosinski, a vaguely sinister guy called Alexander James Ashburner Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica (board member Steve “Ahem” Bannon) and a seemingly innocuous chap called (in 2014) Aleksandr Kogan (now quite unbelievable known as Dr. Spectre (seriously)) with associations to a definitely sinister company called SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories who describe themselves as “the premier election management agency”.

The main points are this, but I strongly recommend that you read the original article:

  1. Kosinski and fellow student David Stillwell use data from a Facebook application called MyPersonality, that Stilwell developed in 2007, to create models from “personality profile” data acquired from users who opt-in to share their app answers with researchers. Kosinski and Stillwell are both doctoral candidates studying together in Cambridge University at the Psychometrics Centre;
  2. The MyPersonality app is an unexpected hit with millions of people submitting answers;
  3. They find that remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts;
  4. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent);
  5. Kosinski continued to work on the models before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook “likes.” Seventy “likes” were enough to outdo what a person’s friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 “likes” what their partner knew. More “likes” could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves;
  6. On the day that Kosinski published these findings, he received two phone calls. The threat of a lawsuit and a job offer. Both from Facebook;
  7. Around this time, in early 2014, Kosinski was approached by a young assistant professor in the psychology department called Aleksandr Kogan. He said he was inquiring on behalf of a company that was interested in Kosinski’s method, and wanted to access the MyPersonality database. Kogan wasn’t at liberty to reveal for what purpose; he was bound to secrecy;
  8. Kogan revealed the name of the company he was representing: SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories;
  9. Kosinski came to suspect that Kogan and a company that he had formed might have reproduced the Facebook “Likes”-based Big Five measurement tool in order to sell it to this election-influencing firm;
  10. Cambridge Analytica subsequently acted for Farage in the Brexit campaign and Republican Ted Cruz then they were hired by Trump;
  11. Cambridge Analytica buys personal data from a range of different sources, like land registries, automotive data, shopping data, bonus cards, club memberships, what magazines you read, what churches you attend. Nix displays the logos of globally active data brokers like Acxiom and Experian—in the US, almost all personal data is for sale. For example, if you want to know where Jewish women live, you can simply buy this information, phone numbers included. Now Cambridge Analytica aggregates this data with the electoral rolls of the Republican party and online data and calculates a Big Five personality profile. Digital footprints suddenly become real people with fears, needs, interests, and residential addresses;
  12. Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016;
  13. Why did he behave like this?;
  14. “Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven,” Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. “We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals.”;
  15. When did having an opinion or a conviction matter in a “data driven” democracy – it certainly did not seem to matter to Trump;
  16. In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump’s campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to “suppress” their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These “dark posts” – sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles – seem to have been highly significant in Trump’s election;
  17. In a statement after the German publication of this article, a Cambridge Analytica spokesperson said, “Cambridge Analytica does not use data from Facebook. It has had no dealings with Dr. Michal Kosinski. It does not subcontract research. It does not use the same methodology. Psychographics was hardly used at all. Cambridge Analytica did not engage in efforts to discourage any Americans from casting their vote in the presidential election. Its efforts were solely directed towards increasing the number of voters in the election.”;
  18. Confusingly the Cambridge Analytica website states “Powered by smarter data modeling At Cambridge Analytica we use data modeling and psychographic profiling to grow audiences, identify key influencers, and connect with people in ways that move them to action. Our unique data sets and unparalleled modeling techniques help organizations across America build better relationships with their target audience across all media platforms.”

ENDS

Is Moxie Still An Anarchist, Are Farcebook Deliberately Hobbling WhatsApp & Does SIGNAL Leak?

Recently I wrote in a blog post “When The Privacy Advocate Becomes An Apologist For The Opponent” about the main stream media sponsored spat that had @Moxie from @WhisperSystems siding with @WhatsApp and @Facebook in a face off against @Guardian and their contributor @tobiasboelter (Security and Crypto at UC Berkeley) in a “man in the middle” versus “design” versus “vulnerability” versus “backdoor” versus “privacy” versus “convenience” versus “user experience” tit for tat.

1. Is Moxie Still An Anarchist?

I said of Moxie Marlinspike that:

“When the advocates become apologists for the mainstream then they longer deserve to be called advocates in the purest sense of the word. And Moxie does consider himself “pure”. He is not. In July 2016 Wired wrote “Meet Moxie Marlinspike, the Anarchist Bringing Encryption to All of Us” but being an “anarchist” and an ally of Zuckerberg are incompatible ideological stances.”

The blog post drew some comment on Peerlyst and elsewhere that took the debate in a number of different directions that I think are worthy of note. My personal belief is that WhatsApp is a more inferior app than most people will accept and that Moxie’s stance also leads me to doubt the once unassailable position of Signal as a trustworthy option.

Peter Stone on Peerlyst commented that:

“Your assertion that Moxie‍ fundamentally is no longer an anarchist when he sides with Zuck holds. And you’re right it matters that they made this design choice, and yes it can be a threat if you have Governments in your threat model. I cannot argue with you at all. My only point, and thanks for the mention, was that it wasn’t, as such, a backdoor.”

Conclusion: Moxie is not an anarchist

2. Are Farcebook Deliberately Hobbling WhatsApp?

This comment led me to ask:

“I agree with you Peter and my post is only expressing my view from the lens of being one of those “crypto geeks” that you and Dave Howe were discussing on the original thread. I accept all of the points that you both make about barriers to entry / usage and cost factors for “average” users in adopting escalating levels of security. But would you agree with the statement that:

“WhatsApp have made a design choice that can be exploited as a backdoor – the rest is semantics”?

Any takers?”

Boelter in his articles laments the fact that Farcebook, after being notified of the weakness in the “design-choices” that they had made for WhatsApp, still refused to take action.

This to me betrays an unwillingness to properly secure the platform for whatever reason and while I accept that a legitimate interim position between releases of a product is to state “it is good enough – for now – but lets see if we can make it even better” that does not seem to be what the Farcebook approach is to ongoing WhatsApp app hardening.

I really liked what Dave Howe had to say in reply to my original comment:

“I can agree totally on the first part of that. WhatsApp have made a design choice that can be exploited as a backdoor.

In fact, I would go further; WhatsApp have made a series of poor design choices which impact severely the security of the solution.

The first is that mail will be retransmitted without an option to block if a new device is added.

The second is that a new device can be added and, by default, this will be silently accepted by the system, and

The third is that the account holder has no reliable way to know a new device was added unless WhatsApp notify them – which of course for a TLA “listening tap” will not happen.

However, “the rest is semantics” I disagree with.

The impact of these poor choices is severe, but the solution is still better than it was before the protocol was added, and more importantly, now WhatsApp is aware of the mistake, it is in a position to fix it.

The detail is therefore important, and while a lot of crypto purists would class anything not a provable success as an abject failure, a more pragmatic security enthusiast will take any improvement as an improvement, and work to build on that platform.

Similarly, to a purist, a system is broken if, given a compute cube the size of the moon, you could break a message on average every thousand years or so – while a pragmatist would say “it’s good enough – for now – but lets see if we can make it even better”

We need to push them to get better. If nothing else, this “backdoor” publicity put this in the public eye (only for Brexit and Trump to push it back under cover of course).

I have to wonder if there is some sort of instruction preventing them from doing so – I know they can insist on that in the UK now, but I wasn’t aware this was true in the US yet (See my blog post Silencing the Canary & The Key Powers & Reach of The IPA)

Solution is obvious though – increase user choice, and make it so they can turn that *off* if they want to, not off by default.

New device added? Have confirmation of new devices as an option.

Until confirmed, new messages will *not* be encoded to the new key, so you can email the old keyset asking if they really have added a new device.

Options can have “auto accept” “ask” and “deny” with the default set to “ask”.

Unacknowledged messages? Have that only resend if the new device is confirmed, and not until; that takes care of that problem too.

If users then choose to disable the “annoying popup” then that’s their choice, not something imposed on them by Farcebook.”

Aside from the poor “design choices” that are covered in “When The Privacy Advocate Becomes An Apologist For The Opponent” and above by Dave here are a few more “design choices” WhatsApp chose not to include from the SIGNAL protocol:

Ability To Password Protect The WhatsApp App

WhatsApp does not have any password system built into the app. WhatsApp say there are many apps in the Google Play store that provide that functionality so just tag on a third party app to make it even weaker

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-20-41-45

“Disappearing Messages” Option in WhatsApp 

There is no “disappearing messages” option in WhatsApp.

Conclusion: Yes Farcebook are deliberately hobbling WhatsApp IMHO. Their reasons? I do not know but I do not accept “user experience” as a justification.

3. Does SIGNAL Leak? 

Would anyone care to comment on this statement regarding the signal app and “leakage”:

“Note that Open Whisper Systems, the makers of Signal, use other companies’ infrastructure to send its users alerts when they receive a new message. It uses Google on Android, and Apple on iPhone. That means information about who is receiving messages and when they were received may leak to these companies.”

Found at on a post on ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION Surveillance Self-Defense.

Conclusion: I don’t know

ENDS

All The Presidents’ Messes

It is a convenient attitude after marshalling a global coalition (twice) for intervention in Kuwait (Gulf War 1) and again in Iraq (Gulf War 2) for the purposes of US energy security that Trump now wishes to pursue a kind of “splendid isolationist” foreign policy after his predecessors have left behind a not so splendid mess. A mess which he is now doing his best to compound.

These previous US initiated actions have spiralled into the regional mess we now have in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe. Trumpites think we should all applaude them now for leaving everyone else to handle the social fallout of their actions even those of us who were not part of their pair of “grand coalitions”.

The Ongoing Erosion of US Prestige & Influence

The Trumpites view that their outcome will be a glory filled jingoistic romanticised dreamland is delusional. The outcome of Trump will be the further erosion of US influence and prestige globally as the US (Democrat and Republican) for some reason best known to themselves continue to hand Russia, China and Iran the initiative and like always we “over here” [Europe] pick up most of their bill (socially).

I wonder how prepared Trump supporters are for sectarian domestic warfare instead of their preferred modus operandi of taking a giant shit on everyone from a great distance.

Selective hearing is one thing when it comes to “hearing” the reality of past US foreign policy disasters. Selective memory to justify a US foreign policy of “splendid isolation” is another thing entirely.

Trumpites Are Unprepared For The Outcomes That They Will Cause

Not content with splitting external regions in two the US has elected Trump after some minor civil unrest and a number of tragic radical Islamist atrocities and divided their own country. But the numbers of deaths on US soil are tiny in relative terms and Trumpites think that they are ready for domestic sectarian strife that Trump policies will inevitably lead to – if pursued.

The election of Trump is in reaction to how many deaths from terrorist attacks on US soil? The US cannot handle terrorism on their own soil without making wildly disproportionate decisions.

The US hasn’t had a serious conflict on their soil since the Civil War. Since then it has all been one sided affairs for them locally. The Spanish-American War, the native American Indian genocide and a few spats with Mexico.

Over-Simplification & Generalisation

Among all the pro-Trump comments there is a common theme of over-simplification and generalising. It is possible to be outraged and hold a contrary opinion to the mainstream without relying on prejudice, racism or extremism.

It is also possible to hold composite opinions that are not contradictory. I am and continue to be a vocal opponent (who regularly has taken the time to write these opinions down and publish them) of political correctness, mass migration and open door policies, the undermining of Western cultural values, radical Islam, sharia law, “states within states” groups who refuse to assimilate and expect everyone to cater to their often radical demands.

All Values Can Be Accommodated 

In order to aggressively assert your values you do not have to destroy the values and beliefs of others or go to war with conflicting ideologies.

I held a position of Special Advisor – Security Affairs (Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen) Undisclosed – NGO (Mass Migration Predictive Profiling – Radicalisation Threats). My focus was on rigour in vetting and processing immigrants along appropriate lines using appropriate methods, not blanket bans.

My blog is full of content that places my opinion on the record – from November 2015 “Weak-willed West Needs To Aggressively Assert Its Values“:

* “We can fret about the potential rise of Islamic extremism in this country and fool ourselves into thinking that we are immune. But why should we be uniquely exempt from other European countries? Extremism doesn’t even have to be violent to have an impact. Extremism can be seen in Muslim clerics who, post-‘Charlie Hebdo’, threatened prosecution of anyone who reprinted the offending cartoons. Extremism is seen on Irish campuses where Sharia-spouting whackjobs are given a round of applause while anyone espousing liberal, Western values is shouted down as a racist – assuming they are allowed to speak in the first place. The terrifying truth is not the strength of ISIL’s convictions, but the weakness of ours. Put simply, they want it more than we do and until we start to aggressively assert Western values in Western countries, is it any wonder that they despise us? Frankly, I can’t say I blame them.”

* (Re-blogged from an article in The Irish Independent by Ian O’Doherty)

Clever Interventions Are Far More Effective Than Populist Broad Brush Strokes

It is a highly complex world with a highly complex security problem. A history lesson and the roots of the current mess is not possible here. But briefly the US finds itself dealing with large scale domestic socio-economic problems; Europe is in a monetary, economic and cultural crisis; social cohesion has disintegrated in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

There are rising far right groups in Europe and the US has elected a man with explicit alt-right sympathies as President. Subtlety and diplomacy and clever interventions are far more effective than broad brush strokes like Trump has begun to take. The majority only see the headlines and do not care to or want to dig deeper. A man and a set of policies that appeal to populist sentiment are a dangerous combination.

Excerpt from “The Future of Populism in the Trump Era” by Paul Wayne:

“Already emboldened by the Brexit vote in June, the election of “an outsider” as President of the world’s oldest democracy has given particularly the core of Europe’s right-wing populist parties a rather vainglorious halo. These three—France’s Marine LePen, the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, and Germany’s Frauke Petry—stand to create a political environment which could ultimately eclipse the European project. All in 2017, the same year in which the Union plans to celebrate its very founding with the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The European Union can survive Brexit. Frexit—Marine LePen’s goal in her planned referendum on EU membership—would be Europe’s death knell.”

Two Party System – Universally Awful

The US is the architect of its own problems. I detest the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Clinton was an awful candidate. Trump was an awful candidate. But both represent exactly what the USA has become. A polarised, corrupted dystopia who regularly foment problems internationally and when it does not work out then walk away and leave a sorry mess behind them.

All The Presidents Messes

In my lifetime the American people have elected Nixon (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), Ford (by accident), Carter (Iranian Revolution & Iran Hostage debacle), Reagan (Funded the Taliban / Iran-Contra Affair / Nicaragua / El Salvador / Guatemala), Bush the first (Gulf War I), Clinton (Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti / Israel-Palestine / Ethnic Wars in Europe – Croats, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims / Kosovo & Albania), Bush the Second (Iraq / Afghanistan), Obama (IRANDEAL, global appeasement, the relatively unopposed rise of ISIS, and the disintegration of Syria and Libya and Egypt as a result of US Foreign Policy failures) and now Trump.

In every case each of these presidents presided over a root cause of the current problem. The US does not have a good record. Trump supporters cite the border control, internal dissent and socio-economic problems as the main reasons for justifying a man like Trump yet most of his actions are having global fallout.

Always The Right Man, Until They Are Not

The US electorate who support the winning candidate always declare that they have elected the right man until he is not the right man and then they elect the right man again until he is not.

I do hope that they get it right soon because to date they keep getting it wrong, at their own and everyone else’s expense.

When the “Muslim” issue is “discussed” with Trumpites they will trot out the history of Muslim conquest and Crusader comparisons in terms of scale. It is a basic piece to any SME on History but it will like all base line rhetoric be offered as the lowest common denominator response masquerading as knoweldge instead of evolving the debate in to mature rather than reactionary territory.

“Small Nation, Small Thinking” But Wider Experience 

Trumpites have referred to me and my opinions as being the result of being an inhabitant of a ‘small nation’ with “small thinking”.

Next week I will travel to the 27th Muslim country that I have visited for work and / or pleasure. How many Americans have been outside their state let alone their country?

I can tell you. Of the 311 million U.S. residents, there are over 109 million valid U.S. passports in circulation according to the State Department. The real number of Americans that actually traveled (took trips) overseas in 2009 for either business or leisure, was about 15.5 million —or just five percent of the nation’s 311 million residents.

If you take the jet setting HNWI’s traveling ways into account less than 14.6 million Americans actually traveled overseas in 2009 — maybe as low as just 11.6 million, or about 3.5% of all U.S. residents.

America’s most popular overseas countries are: England (9% of all trips), France (7%), Italy (7%), Germany (5%), Dominican Republic (5%), Jamaica (5%), Japan (4%), China (4%), India (4%) and Spain (4%). Other significant countries visited include: Bahamas (3%) and Costa Rica (3%).

With just six percent of Americans trips going to the Middle East, and even fewer, just three percent, visiting the whole continent of Africa, and two percent going to Australia/New Zealand.

The US is a nation where most of the population and certainly most of the Trump supporters have never seen first hand many of the places which they hold aggressively contrary opinions toward.

For a nation where remarkably few of the residents have ever set foot in or spoke to a citizen of these countries yet seem to know all about their motivations and traditions it is amusing to me that according to Trumpites that I should take my “small nation” thinking and replace it with the opinions of insular Americans.

Amusing because the majority of them derive their opinions from second hand biased TV & radio commentators, and politicians rather than first hand experience.

Well that’s just lazy isn’t it really?

“Self Informed” Rather Than “Externally Conditioned” 

Americans who wish to mouth off about culture and integration (Reds & Blues) should try visiting some of these places and see the root causes for immigration or the effect of their past “right man at the time” presidents’ failed foreign policies.

A Trumpite responded in reply to this suggestion of taking time to travel and talk to Muslims in affected countries to gain a wider understanding by quoting (knowingly or not) the late comedian Chris Farley in the movie “Tommy Boy” that:

“Of course, I can get a hell of a good look at a T-Bone steak by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take the butcher’s word for it.”

To which I replied “Well you couldn’t do that with Trump anyway pal cos his head is already up his own ass – plan B I guess”.

END

Take Action To Reverse The Present Trend Of The Normalisation of the Abnormal

Talk is cheap, too many people “lip service” this man Trump and his racist cronies’ extremism and yet do nothing.

SELF IMPOSED BAN IN SOLIDARITY WITH OUR MUSLIM BROTHERS & SISTERS

Dear Ryan,

In light of the appalling actions of Mr. and his “colleagues” with respect to the Muslim & Refugee ban I am unable to accept your kind to attend InterConnect in this March. Professionally, I am saddened by this but my moral compass and my beliefs concerning the importance of human decency, tolerance, respect, freedom, and civil liberties outweigh my ambitions. While my self imposed ban will have zero effect on this disgusting by POTUS, to do nothing is not an for me and if enough people act in their own small way we will reverse the present trend of the normalisation of the abnormal.

Is Mise Le Meas,

Graham Joseph Penrose

INVITATION:

Graham, you know IoT, and it shows.

You have been selected to join the IBM InterConnect Social VIP program, a fantastic opportunity for you to meet and share your perspective with a select group of influential peers. This expense-paid invitation to IBM InterConnect includes airfare, lodging at the beautiful Mandalay Bay/Delano Hotel in Las Vegas, InterConnect conference pass (and VIP access) and a lot of fun extras:

●        Networking meet-ups with fellow social VIPs and IBM executives
●        Reserved seating
●        Premium lounge areas
●        Preferred lodging
●        Exclusive access to IBM Subject Matter Experts
●        Invite-only events that only Vegas can offer

Best of all, you’re the star of this program. We want to add your valuable and unique point of view to the social discussion at IBM InterConnect 2017. Your voice in the form of blogs, tweets, video and more will be featured prominently throughout the InterConnect digital experience.

Please respond to this invitation by Thursday, January 12. Ask us any questions you may have about the event or your participation. We’re looking forward to getting to know you better!

Remember: This offer is non-transferable and only for you. We want YOU at InterConnect 2017!

Sincerely,
IBM Systems Social Program Lead

ENDS