Are you sure it's not Latin that is the lingua franca?
1408 posts • joined 9 Jul 2016
Maskirovka is a set of techniques for misleading the enemy about what one is going to do oneself. It is not essentially anything to do with introducing dissension into enemy ranks.
Besides, nothing could be more redundant than to try to set Americans against one another. It's like teaching fish to swim.
"El Reg is my only news source now".
That's unrealistic, as every source has its biasses and weaknesses. I recommend at least half a dozen well varied sources. Every day you should notice things that some sources get right, while others are wrong or prejudiced. That is good mental exercise, too.
This very article is a fine example. I too consider The Reg a useful and generally accurate source. But the headline of this article "When it comes to hacking societies, Russia remains the master at sowing discord and disinformation online" is simply a quotation from one woman's speech. Yet it looks as if The Reg is offering that as its own considered opinion. At the very least, a competent editor would put the headline in quotation marks.
Surely if one's society is showing serious signs of cracking up, with many groups angrily attacking other groups, it might suit some people's purpose to blame it all on Russia.
To reduce matters to the absurd, maybe the GRU and ITA were responsible for the racial tension between Whites and Blacks in the USA - which was seething centuries before the GRU or its earliest predecessor came into existence.
People still line up to join the Marines and other elite organizations, even though they know that a lot abuse will come their way.
The point is that it's meaningful, constructive abuse. It's designed to help them get better at what they do.
It's said that the Red Army used to have a saying for reluctant recruits: "If you don't know how, we'll teach you. If you don't want to, we'll make you".
That's not for everyone, but for the few who really want to excel.
Long ago when the world was young, I was at a branch meeting of my employer at the time.
A personable young lady (oops, deduct 500 points for sexism) from HR gave us a brief bright talk about how great HR was and how we should all trust them implicitly. "Remember," she told us, "We in HR are the doctors who can help you if anything at all is wrong with your life in the workplace".
Then the manager asked if there were any questions.
A colleague of mine (blessed be his name) stood up and said loudly, "Where I come from, the doctors aren't paid by the bacteria!"
It set his career back about 10 years.
"The speed at which an idea sales has to migrate/extract data for a customer can be realised quickly into a working solution on Linux with a backend MySQL database is very powerful".
Anyone who could compose that English sentence probably isn't too devoted to elegance, simplicity or maintainability.
It is possible to understand, but only with some sacrifice of time and effort. And the lurking uncertainty remains.
"PHP is a minor evil perpetrated and created by incompetent amateurs, whereas Perl is a great and insidious evil, perpetrated by skilled but perverted professionals".
- Jon Ribbens
"Perl is another example of filling a tiny, short-term need, and then being a real problem in the longer term".
- Alan Kay
"The more I ponder the principles of language design, and the techniques that put them into practice, the more is my amazement at and admiration of ALGOL 60. Here is a language so far ahead of its time that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors but also on nearly all its successors".
- C.A.R. Hoare, "Hints on Programming Language Design", 1973
Reminds me of the first chance I had to try out a DEC Alpha machine - back in about 1991 or 1992.
Of course it looked exactly like a VAX, and the terminal was the same. I typed in the command to run one of our standard benchmarks and hit Return. Nothing - I was just shown the dollar prompt again. I tried this a few times before the penny dropped: the Alpha was finishing the benchmark faster than the terminal could display the prompt.
"You're going to need a bigger benchmark".
DEC's CORAL 66 was a very minimal language. I learned it in about two days - which was necessary as I had to teach a class about it the following week.
No sooner had I more or less got a grip of CORAL 66 than I was sent off to Washington DC to learn Ada - which was big and complicated.
Still, even today there is a great deal to be said for Ada if you want software to work reliably and consistently. I always though kindly of its designers every time I was on an airliner that took off or landed successfully.
Having reread "The Multiplex Man", guess what I find on page 238?
“But suppose we had the ability to predispose an entire population to exhibiting more desirable and compliant attitudes, say by introducing suitable chemical agents on a mass scale – which could be accomplished by any of several means”.
What are the odds on Bill Gates having read Hogan's SF novel 30 years ago?
"Or one of the uninhabited Pacific islands".
Be careful to pick one that won't be under water in a few years.
Your remind me of a story I read in the papers 20-30 years ago. An elderly but well-heeled American couple wanted to retire somewhere really, really safe. So they spent years researching everything, from geography and politics to economics and medical services.
Finally they chose their ideal retirement home and moved there in 1981.
The Falkland Islands!
Actually, I believe that we should abolish all political parties - make them illegal, with heavy penalties for forming one.
Then voters could choose competent individuals and assess their performance as individuals. And governments would tackle problems objectively, rather than asking first what answer their policis and platforms dictate.
If you look carefully you will find I did not say they were. I mentioned the UK and USA as I get the impression that most readers of The Reg are from those nations.
And I put "democracy" in quotation marks, to indicate that I did not endorse that description.
Actually, I don't think democracy is viable or even possible model for a large modern nation. But it's moot, as very few of them have even tried it.
Alas and dammit, I was afraid someone would ask. A quick search of what details I can find online has failed to identify the book I was thinking of. I think it was one of Hogan's later books, written perhaps in the 1990s. I moved on from him about then, so it's been about 20 years - and my memory isn't what it used to be.
Give them an inch and they'll take an ell. (Or a mile if you want to be modern).
It's the nature of the beast.
That's why it should be the duty (or even the self-interest) of every citizens to resist as energetically as possible all official demands, encroachments and abuses of power.
It's true that UK voters keep on voting for the same unacceptable political parties; but getting out of that trap is not so simple. Indeed, a lot of care and effort has gone into making sure we can't get out of it.
First of all - as in the USA and other countries - you can only vote for someone who is an official candidate. (Why?)
People get to be official candidates by ingratiating themselves with the relevant party, which is run by a bunch of hard-nosed, cynical, immoral psychopaths. That usually ensures that only such people (or those who show strong psychopath potential) are even allowed to stand for election.
There are other serious obstacles. First, it takes a lot of money to make the slightest impact on our "democratic" systems. Note that in the USA, even a billionaire like Ross Perot was brushed aside like a mosquito when he stood for President. His means and influence dwarf those that most of us could command - yet the main parties simply buried him.
Second, governing a modern nation is extremely complex and demanding. Even granted that 99% of the actual skilled and expert work is done by skilled experts (and the civil service), it takes a lot of know-how and networking skills even to work the levers at all. ("Yes, Minister!" gave a slightly biased but generally accurate view of how little control even ministers have over how the country is run).
"Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state".
- Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation”
Russia deserves consideration - if you can master the language, which is mandatory for immigrants.
About 30 years ago the great SF writer James Hiogan wrote a novel set in a near future in which the USA and Russia had swapped roles. The USA had become a bureaucratic totalitarian nightmare, while Russia had emerged from the Soviet era into a period of liberty.
Sometimes SF writers are so accurate that it almost seems they are clairvoyant.
The fundamental problem is the doomed attempt to combine an industry that uses software for productive purposes with another industry that makes and sells software for profit.
The first industry would benefit from stability, while the second profits hugely from constant innovation and never allowing stability to settle in.
Ironically, as the second industry is more (obviously) profitable, it always wins in any clash of wills.
"ActiveX will be probably be painfully around as long as you, BB, but once was useful..."
Anyone who is bored and wants some idle amusement could while away the time by making a list of products whose names could be substituted for "ActiveX" without reducing the truth of the sentence.
Indeed, it could be the standard epitaph for all old software... which, unfortunately, is not dead even after it has been buried.
Perrow makes some absolutely vital points. One is that every system made by humans contains a human element, which is at least as fallible as any other part of the system. For instance, the contractor who was responsible for holes in the concrete containment shield of a nuclear power station - at least one of which was large enough to park a car in.
Another of Perrow's thoughts that stays in the mind for decades is that complex systems are usually able to continue working in spite of one or more failures. It may take several independent failures to cause an accident serious enough to be noticed.
I don't recall Perrow saying this, but it seems to me that really reliable systems require an attitude of complete and utter commitment to high quality. That is incompatible with the profit motive. (Compare, for example, standard commercial software such as that sold by Microsoft with the Space Shuttle software as described in Charles Fishman's superb article "They Write the Right Stuff" https://www.fastcompany.com/28121/they-write-right-stuff).
In Robert A Heinlein's famous short story "Blowups Happen" (published in 1940 - not a typo), he depicts the problems of generating electric power from nuclear fission. The core of the story revolves around the difficulty of keeping the highly-trained and conscientious engineers who tend the power station sane. They worry so much about their awful responsibility and the consequences of any error or oversight that they have to be replaced after weeks or months, and need constant psychiatric help.
Contrast that with how reality turned out! Instead of brilliant, dedicated, careworn geniuses going slowly mad under the unbearable burden of responsibility, we have had nuclear power station accidents due to appalling laziness and negligence, and sometimes even deliberate sabotage to alleviate boredom.
In Perrow's terms, Heinlein assumed the availability of staff like himself, when such people are actually much rarer and harder to find. He specified human components of a quality that seems unobtainable on the market.
Well, here's some different data.
"As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK".
Is that going to change your decision?
Didn't think so.
It speaks for itself that a British citizen has to ask whether the UK is still a country ruled by law.
Probably the answer is "yes and no". It's not ruled by law - exactly - but it is ruled by obscure regulations and the arbitrary decisions of bureaucrats who were empowered - secretly - by law long ago.
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