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Comment Re:Thank you (Score 1) 242

Yeah, EO 12333. Section 1.12b(13) what you refer to? A loose interpretation could allow that, especially given the relevant 'as directed by' clauses'.

Look, simply: dig it, you want to capture and connect signals from Bad Guy A to Bad Guy B. Fine; it may or may not be as crazy as some of the stuff show up in movies and on TV, but what with proxies and VPNs and all, the comms can route through all kinds places, in and out of US.

So to connect the dots you gots to follow the stuff. OK, I get it. I was at least reading about this stuff thirty years ago, not long after I dug into the seminal stuff on packet-switched networks.

Had the admin come to the people, especially after 9/11 and the weirdly-named Patriot Act, and said, hey, to help try to track some of these guys we gotta Hoover everything and hang on to it for a few weeks, and if it happens to pass through or involve stuff inside US we'll do it with specific and highly-limited warrant and all, and then everything not needed gets thrown away.... and oh, by the way, no, we have no interest, let alone the time, energy, money, or even capability of reading Aunt Milly's email, is that OK with you?

Instead all this comes out of the secret places where we're repeatedly assured that everything's above-board...

Now, you wanna talk intel gathering? Or how our gov doesn't trust us? Or their historical excuses for so much of what's been classified for seventy years or so, national security, when in fact the great bulk of 'secret shit' is that way to prevent the people from knowing it (when all the bad guys already do) or, commonly enough, to prevent embarrassment to highers? (Last I looked, two presidential studies and one either via Congress or a contracted third-party all came to the above conclusions, btw; the first study was done at the behest of Ike.)

Color me really simple - I tend to get rankled by under-handed crap. Protecting then minutiae of operational ways and means is one thing; hiding the whole shebang behind the magic curtain because we're too simple and have 'no need to know' is another entire.

Comment Re:Thank you (Score 4, Insightful) 242

"It's their job to watch for threats both foreign and domestic."

Nope. Only NSA domestic tasking is to develop secure comms and crypto for use by military and State. Like CIA, they are forbidden to do deomestic intel gathering. By law, anyway.

Everything I've read in the past six months indicates that less than half of what he took has even been released to Greenwald et al, and they've released but a portion of what they're working with. But maybe you have better sources (no, that's not snide; you're a sharp cookie when you're on your game, so maybe you read something that I didn't.)

My understanding is that the purpose was not particularly to 'expose the NSA' as to expose such things that they are doing that are counter to, or an un-authorized expansion of, tasking, and done in violation of the several laws that apply, and perhaps, even likely, of the constitution under which those laws operate.

I mean, c'mon, while I know that Bamford's "The Puzzle Palace" was news to some when it came out back when, but the essentials of the basics of what the various intel agencies were doing was kinda obvious, not to mention stated outright in public documents. So long as there was no drama, things just went along quietly, is all. Thing is, going back to Church et al, historically those same agencies have a recurrent problem with both mission creep and off-the-books activity.

I'm enough of a realist to figure that there are some gray areas; that things can get nasty in the dark corners. But that's a long sight different than the wholesale vacuuming of every domestic electronic comm up to garage door openers. So far as has been reported, despite repeated questions from Congress, so far no information on terrorist activity leading to its disruption that could not just as easily and readily and legally be obtained by heretofore existing means and methods has been given. Further, claims to the contrary, no one has been shown to have been harmed by the disclosures, although certainly some reputations and business deals have been affected.

Look, I have no particular axe to grind here. I mostly tend to favor law and order; the right to privacy, the right to speak, the right to peaceably assemble, all without chilling consequences stemming from total surveillance.* I also tend to look with disfavor on over-reach and skullduggery. Quaint tho it may be, especially given the hypocrisy and, some would say, the corruption of Congress, I really don't like it when public officials lie to the only body that ostensibly is looking out for me, either.

  *(Btw, I recall few if any contemplating the heavy psychic load and attendant mental health problems that arise in such a state. (You ever talk to someone came out of East Germany? Not pretty.) We're already training our schoolchildren to accept such things as being arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail from out of a fifth-grade class for doodling with a dry marker, along with invasive searches and withholding of needed medication; the list goes on. Then we have college free-speech zones requiring a two-week reservation and approval. Say what? That would have been popular in '70. Bad enough children have no childhood now; far worse is molding them to compliance with a totalitarian state by high school. Heck, looking back, I and most of my classmates would have been imprisoned or dead by fourth grade, way things work today. The times are not that different, but our collective heads are sure twisted up pretty bad to let this shit come to pass and think it somehow good and "justified". Only IMO, of course.)

Comment Re:Whoah whoah whoah (Score 1) 230

Indeed. Correct. Understood. Thanks for the history; I'd known bits and pieces, but nothing like the fine picture you describe. Hypergolics are just plain strange - neat, but strange; finding stuff that you can use the word "stable" about in the same acreage was a big challenge. Solids are handy for military - only thing extra needed is an abort package. I was saddened when I learned about Nedelin; I was also amazed that so many had parked themselves so close to the pad.

Even after all these years, with the military, civilian, commercial uses, thinking on some of the things involved in the doing - no matter how straightforward the engineering - gives me pause and wonderment. I remember watching the live TV of the Vanguard launch attempts. Ouch.

If you've not heard of it, and if you want, track down the pdf "Ignition" - it's a history of fuels research in the U.S. covering the critical twenty years by a fellow who was right in the thick of it. It's fascinating reading even if one hasn't the chemistry to follow all of it. The guy writes well and has a sense of humor like a fine dry martini.

Dunno, man, sitting atop great gobs of propellant that's _supposed_ to burn at a controlled rate but has the potential for going boom - the folks that do that.... I fergit who it was, one of the Seven, while waiting through yet another hold, said something about how all the gee-whiz machinery he was sitting atop had been built by the lowest bidder. Capcom had kittens.

Comment Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (Score 1) 230

Ok, I remember when I first read on qt.... you're right, I'm not quite that old. I think it might serve to make the point, tho. I never meant to say, and don't think I did, that "the maths" imply anything about ESP; how you got that I canna fathom. It seemed to me a simple way to illustrate that over the years a variety of things formerly un-explainable become so, by way of suggesting the possibility only that such might apply to some things we don't now know or understand. It seemed clear enough, but obviously not sufficient.

Even in my approaching enfeeblement I do know what year it is, but thank you for the information. I've read a fair amount over the years, pre- and post-search engine, on the topic and related stuff. I think that I'm sufficiently aware of the distinction and body of info available (enough, anyway, maybe two or three hundred books covering the ground, to be able to follow on to more sources should I care to revisit all that) apart from my personal experience. I dropped a personal tidbit and figured that would be OK. How it got to some scrum has taken me by surprise. It was in no wise meant to be some examination of the field, fer Chrissakes.

Of course my "argumentation" is personal. That's all I ever said it was. Unless you want to hold my poor attempt at illustration against me forever, that is.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable enough. (Score 1) 230

Sorry for delay - meat life intervened.

One thing I've long wanted - bigger screens (that I can afford, like that will ever happen) and good rez with small dot-pitch (or whatever they call it these days) so's one could have a thread expanded farther out, even put a copy or another thread right next to it, and still have room for a third whatever. Especially I'd like that capability for email. Having the software, wherever it lives, deliver all that is another story.

Yeah, I remember the AFQT from high school; I know many of my friends took it. I was tempted to take it if for no other reason than curiosity but had already gotten word that I'd been accepted for an Army-funded Merit, so there was no immediate need (depending on future grades and draft status, of course - this was back in '65). Anyway, sounds like what you took.

I'm glad you followed the link. Makes one feel better about making a suggestion when now and then someone takes you up on it. Yeah, interesting page, nicely laid out, covers all the basics and then some for constituting a solid, useful FAQ. There are some links there, and other sites. For some of the background, if your interest takes you there, there are a few worthwhile histories or memoirs that I found from the '70s-'80s - don't know how many are still in print. (I note that unless one lives in a good-sized city that used book stores are getting scarce. My town of now ~60k has none, down from three twenty years ago.) Richard Marcinko in "Rogue Warrior" has some good bits and pieces of how things started and the early days; if you find this stuff of interest there are some really good other books.

What I liked about the site was not only did it maybe serve to cull, as you say, but works for the idly curious as well as those who might qualify and want to dive in (right-o, that's a cheap pun).


Comment Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (Score 1) 230

Because it's personal experience. Because I'm not Uri Geller (nice scam, gotta admire his chutzpah; he made some money, met some chicks, and had more than his fifteen-minute share). Because I make no claims to anything beyond mentioning having had some experiences (which, by the by, I did not describe; they're private, and will remain so) that had physiological effects; I can conceive no tests nor posit useful explanation for those experiences. Wheat from chaff and all but there is an accumulation of reports of several phenomena going back beyond the Vedas (or Rigas or Upanishads - I fergit the proper terminology) but reported therein and elsewhere. Some appear to be nigh universal. Kinda like where there's smoke there's fire; but it does not do to confuse smoke with fog.

Way I see it, world is flat is a straw man or something. We've known, or had the info available to informed minds, or any simple observer with the opportunity to see it, for at least a good 2,500 years or so in writing (and who knows how long before) that the world is indeed spherical - ship's masts and Earth shadow on Moon, or just plain stadiametry. World is flat is a myth we were taught as part of the Christopher Columbus gig, and a religious "truth" decreed by some bishops or whatnot.

Being unable to explain something is not of itself grounds for dismissal of a thing, an observation, or an experience. I'll give some straw back - it wasn't until within the past century that we could sneak up on an adequate explanation for seeing the daytime sky as blue.

I remember when quantum tunneling was only implied by the maths. Over time there were enough observations of something happening and shaving with Occam left few choices for what was going on; experiments were devised based on developments in observational technique. Now that weird effect is taken for granted because we found a way to get a handle on forces formerly inaccessible. Right now we're looking for gravity waves and better hints of dark matter. Oh, and toss some entanglement into the salad of "spooky stuff".

More on point, while you might be able to work up a description of consciousness in action, could you provide me an explanation of its cause and how it works? Can you detect whatever it is and measure it? So far as I know, that has not yet been done, yet most of us accept that it is a real thing if for no other reason than that's all that we have to even allow us to talk about it or any other thing in Universe. For all I know it'll be shown to be an algorithmic matrix of spin states attendant protein-protein ion exchange in the brain as a whole (how's that for hand-waving?), or an expression of the various force fields involved by Universe thinking itself with each individual brain acting as a focus locus. Right now brain science is birthing as the new rocket science, and we haven't any Chinese firecrackers let alone a Robert Goddard. I do keep an eye on Douglas Hofstadter, tho.

"....who as a species are prone to bias, self deception, and credulity" Oh, my, yes, indeed. But I prefer taking it as one individual at a time and building up rather than the other way 'round. By the same lights, we have people who look around and see neat and interesting things and try to find what they are; to describe, measure, test, reproduce results, and continually try to disprove and refine operational truths as the living process of science.

In a way, a good scientist is like a well-disciplined mentally adept three-year old: "Wow, man, what's that?" And onward to how does it work and why does it work that way and not some other way. And for everything neatly catalogued and placed on the shelf, dusting them off from time to time, looking anew, and questioning. To me, this is the magic.

We have it that Universe in finite but has no edge. We also have it that Universe is infinite but closed. Wtf? What little I know is that it is chock-full of wonder. It makes for awe, and humility. I'll go with that, with science as companion. YMMV.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable enough. (Score 1) 230

Sorry, man, timing was off and I missed it until after I had posted - then forgot on top of it. Congrats on your own catch - takes an honest intellect for that - and thanks for the reminder.

Don't know if you followed that link, btw, but it's makes for some quick and interesting reading. The guys I've met over the years have been in the main some very quietly impressive individuals and I'm happy to be able to call a few of them friends.

And you were right, in the respect that the "media" fastened on to the 6 thing like a piglet to a magic-milk teat. Does great for ratings while letting them claim professional reportage. Gah.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable enough. (Score 1) 230

Not imaginary. Look stuff up, maybe. Read. Inform yourself past "Actually I did hear..." The Sovs had their own various programs contemporaneous with "Star Wars" as well, don't forget. There's also the crude rubric: you can break trail and give their spies something to do; you can stay abreast and hope for a balance of offense and defense; or you can learn from the other's mistakes, save time and money, give our spies something to do, and hope the other guy doesn't steal a march on you.

There was a boatload of basic and applied research in lasers, radar, discrimination, targeting, guidance, kill methods, and all the software to do all this stuff, to name a few. Some were apparent dead ends, more were not feasible due to limitations of materials or efficient controlled point energy sources; a fair amount of all that knowledge and some of the tech went into current weapons systems and some things found application in the civilian sector.

Can the claim be made, with whatever validity, that we outspent the Sovs? Sure. Did we piss all that money away? No. How to divvy up the gains and losses on those expenditures, that's another matter, and I suspect nothing more than maybe good approximation can be made. If you want to go full-bore St. Reagan, then how do you amortize current expenditures against projected ones in light of what price/benefit of the Wall coming down? Gives the bean counters something to do, and provides much fodder for think tanks and near-term historians.

Then there's a longer view. Some think it was close to a coin toss whether we or the Sovs tanked first. The religious economists will vehemently disagree but there's is nothing particularly long-term magical about capitalism per se so far as I can figure. After Clancy, "War is robbery writ large." then maybe capitalism is feudalism on a grand scale. I don't know. I stick with Mill and Fuller with a sprinkling of Galbraith (he writes nice and has interesting thoughts) and read a little bit here and there.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable enough. (Score 1) 230

"Did you ever wonder why we never hear about Seal Teams 1-5?"

No. I was reading about them thirty and more years ago. For that matter, a friend I met in late '60s served in the teams in mid-'60s in Vietnam. It was 6 that for years was the quiet one, with portions of its funding, tasking, and operations off the books.

If your knowledge of things comes from what you casually come across on TV and don't bother to look up, then maybe that explains your question. If for some strange reason you don't think the Sovs didn't know about publicly announced operational military units or know how to look in the goddam phone book, then I don't know what.

Meanwhile, try: or goto Wikipedia.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable enough. (Score 1) 230

MKULTRA (an umbrella term anyway) encompassed a whole lot more that the woo-woo stuff. There were experiments done with various mind-affecting chemicals on both witting and un-witting test subjects, for instance. The full (well, as full as they're likely to have been - I don't recall if there's still stuff in the pipeline awaiting future declass) disclosures, starting with the Church committee hearings, make for some fascinating reading. I think there've been a couple rounds of materials released since then as well.

Given the amount of time and money spent on real-world things in an earnest effort to find ways and means tends to preclude at least some of the efforts from being in the full-on scam category, I should think.

Comment Re:this article doesn't have enough posts yet... (Score 1) 230

Yup. We don't know what consciousness is (although we putter with operational definitions) nor how it arises. For that matter we don't exactly have a great handle on un-consciousness, either - talk to an anesthesiologist sometime. The phenomenon of hypnosis is an odd one, too.

Don't know means don't know. That some phenomena exist or are said to exist outside of what we know, and know well enough to explain, can be an interesting grey area ripe for exploration. When over the course of millenia there is a significant weight of attestation, that might be a clue that something unknown may well be happening. But un-knowing also does not justify leaping to unfounded belief, either.

(That said, and I maybe shouldn't even mention it, but way back when I experienced - well, three mutally- experienced would be closer to it - a few things for which I can as yet find no scientific explanation. All three are mentioned by kind in some of the very old surviving writings, but I never learned Sanskrit. ;-) In one instance their were third-party witnesses at both ends to something happening, nature indeterminate. In the other two cases, both I and the other person knew something happened and let it go at that, making no further claims on belief about any particular this and that.)

Meanwhile I tend to go with science, while trying to keep a mind open enough to avoid bigotry and reined in enough so it doesn't all leak away.

Comment Re:Whoah whoah whoah (Score 1) 230

"Actually most of the interest was in ICBMs."

Sorry, no. Separate tasks, separate methods. You can look up all the basics of the history easily with a few searches.

Early on there was a divergence in engineering. The commonalities were more in ablatives, control circuitry (later ICs and chips, then CPUs., guidance, and even in these, the needs diverged enough that so did those techs after a while.

While the U.S. Mercury and Gemini programs used re-built man-rated (and the IRBM, Redstone, for sub-orbital) ICBMs (Atlas and the several Titan and Titan II configurations) - because that's all we had with the necessary boost - missile development went to solid fuel (more stable for storage, very little prep for launch beyond enabling some squibs and verifying target co-ords); all the later man-rated boosters were liquid-fueled - lots of prep time, but they could be defueled and re-spotted, aborted, throttled and, later on, restarted. That decision, IIRC, was made by Ike very early on.

Further the throw weights and flight profiles were quite different, requiring substantially different designs. The space race was what it was, and it wasn't anything to do with warhead delivery. (I'm not counting FOBS; that was mutually outlawed about as swiftly as the basic capability was demonstrated. Nor do I count the armed Soviet recon stations - even they admitted it was not one of their better ideas, however nifty they were.)

Comment Re:Also Baxter by Rethink Robotics (Score 1) 157

Given the tenor and kind of the discussion to this point, one of the things we need is to find a sufficient common point of agreement, firmly eschew any a priori ideology, then start doing questioning and analysis based on energy flow and cost. The permanently attached rider is the question that's been central to what's passed for debate so far: what, exactly, will we do with the current and future members of our species (expected to peak ~10billions) who have no current or realistically projected place.

There's been entirely too much hand-waving away of problems; I see a lot of self-imposed blinders, based, often as not, on pre-concieved notions and comfortable prejudice. History can be a guide but in the face of something new it does not and cannot provide much of a useful map.

The elite will always do well, of course. Some take the view that this is as it should be. Perhaps we are not the human race unless a significant portion of us live in misery* (owning a cell phone while starving makes it ok, right?). Maybe that is correct, a universal truth, a necessary condition. That's a good question, I think. So it then boils down to keeping a lid on such unrest as may develop so's not to overly disturb the ritz and glitz - nor the coupon-clippers who glance at it all with bemusement. As for algae depletion, all that other stuff, well, really, that's what servants and scientists are for.

*best I can figure, throughout our history the single best-surviving yardstick of success measures having against not having - and that those that have are better able to pass on their genes and care for their young. Doesn't fly in the face of reality, but that hasn't disturbed the ideology of it a whit.

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