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Apple to Introduce New Security Services with iPhone 6 and IOS 8.

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Apple-boy In a response to the hacking of a number of celebrity phones and backup data, Apple will reportedly add a new security service to the iPhone 6 and add features to IOS 8 to help prevent future compromises of celebrity data. One of the fixes will be to assign an Apple fanboy to attractive celebrities who will turn off photostream for them and enable 2 factor authentication. The fanboy will change their “monkey” based password to something not in a dictionary and incorporate special characters to increase entropy. Changes to IOS 8 will include not allowing real answers to security questions and a new app called iNude. The iNude app will analyze photo’s taken and send notifications when skin percentages exceeds 50%. The notifications will say” “Do you really want to put this on the internet?”, “What would your mother think if she saw this?”, “This is really not your best look, wait till you’re sober and look again.”, or “Go ahead, you’re career is tanking anyway.” Industry insiders say these changes will make Apple devices the most secure in the world and anyone who doubts that is a hater and a douche-bag anyway.

WW I: It’s been a century

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This Summer marks the centennial of The Great War starting in 1914. As an amateur historian I have been interested in WW I since grade school looking at books on weaponry in the local library. As a teenager I read “All Quiet on the Western Front” and discovered that maybe war wasn’t all John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima” or more appropriately, “Sergeant York” with Gary Cooper. As my interest in military history grew and I delved into warfare from ancient to modern, I came to the conclusion that the 20th century and now the 21st has been cast from the blast furnaces that consumed millions of soldiers and civilians across the globe from 1914-1918.

The causes of the war are more complex than an anarchist’s bullet. Max Hastings gives a blow by blow account of all the government actions and decisions in “Catastrophe: 1914.” In “Europe’s Last Summer” David Fromkin treats the causes as a murder mystery and calls out the principal antagonists as Austro-Hungary vs. Serbia and Germany vs. Russia with their varied alliances drawing in the other European nations. Understanding how such a group of “civilized” countries became embroiled in a costly war is crucial to understanding our own times and the conflicts we have seen and that continue on a depressingly regular basis.

From my personal perspective, I see WW I as a failure of men to appreciate or comprehend that the technological progress of the industrial revolution should have brought about a commensurate change in attitude towards class, empire and the role of government. Nationalism was on the rise. Colonialism was being attacked as exploitive and even racist. The race for European countries to acquire geo-political property wherever they could was ending. After the war, few could afford to maintain them. The saga of India and Indo-China are just a couple of examples that had far reaching ramifications for their colonial masters. Robber Barons vs. the trade unions was fraying the social fabric. Progressive movements initiated the English welfare state. Women were enfranchised in Finland and Sweden before the war, and not until 1928 were all women allowed to vote in England. My point is that the early 20th century had the making of a new Renaissance. Science, technology, art, literature, music all were advancing, but it seems our destructive human nature, our “will to power,” won out. Dr. Paul Kengor uses a religious metaphor and makes the case for the conflict as “the second fall of man.(“wwi-and-the-second-fall-of-man)

Much talk is made of new weapons of war being used with old tactics and the subsequent slaughter. I think the same thing occurred with respect to the diplomatic and government decision making process. Where once messages and ultimatums would takes days or weeks to arrive by courier they were now delivered by phone or telegraph. Time to think, strategize and prepare measured responses was greatly reduced by technology. This improved technology also allows mass communication to become more effective. An informed (or misinformed) public makes for public pressure on government officials, politicians and at this time even kings or queens.

In my FBI crisis negotiator trainings there was a warning we always heard: “Beware the Action Imperative!” When in a crisis situation, say after an archduke and his wife are murdered (or a group of militants declare an Islamic State in a country you just “freed”), people feel a need to do something. Action of some kind makes us feel like we have control. We are not helpless. We can “fix” the problem. And we act. Under stress, full of emotion, rationality compromised, we act. Acting often with wrong or incomplete information, poor planning, preparation and/or execution. The results? You decide. Ruby Ridge, Waco, The Patriot Act, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again? Has any of us NOT made a bad decision or done something we regret “in the heat of the moment?”

So we have monarchs, diplomats and elected leaders under pressure/stress making decisions. Decisions that can be implemented by technology faster than ever before. Technology that makes keeping secrets like troop movements and mobilizations almost impossible. You have to act and you have to act now or be vulnerable. From everything I have read it seems many of the leaders involved were bluffing and posturing to save face and appear strong, never thinking a serious war would result. Serbia would be punished, maybe weakened enough to be controlled and everyone would enjoy the beautiful Summer. No, the mobilizations went on, the trains moved troops to their border positions and soon the guns of August were heard. The train set in motion on June 28, 1914 by Gavrilo Princip gathered speed as leaders blustered and harumphed. Positioned their armies on the European chess board, each thinking they would get the “en passant” without loss to themselves. The train was a runaway. No one manned the brakes and the world saw four years of carnage.

After four years of global conflict what was accomplished? Millions died. Millions more were wounded physically and/or psychologically. National treasure spent, the war financed largely by bonds, most countries were deeply in debt. (What if you wanted a war and nobody would finance it? A topic for another time) The war gave a sad, mediocre artist the path to Fuhrer. In a desperate strategic gamble Germany unleashed a radical who went by the name of Lenin on Russia. The war changed a devout ranking socialist named Mussolini in Italy into a nationalist. Japan went from a debtor nation to creditor, supplying munitions to the allies and building up an industrial, manufacturing economy. Japan also gained a number of Russian and German territories and consolidated operations in Manchuria and elsewhere in China. The war resulted in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Great Britain ended hostilities in control of a large portion of the middle east. The results?

The seeds for another conflict are already in place at the armistice. Were the terms of the Versailles Treaty unfair? A whole lot of PhD.’s have been earned making the case. Saddling Germany with reparations it has little hope to repay is not the best way to lasting peace. Add a world wide depression and things only get worse. My view is the world map and economic conditions at the end of 1918 were a cauldron of instability with an ill fitting lid. It was going to boil over at some point. Hindsight makes it obvious. Virtually every conflict since 1918 we can trace roots to the Great War. What trouble spots have we seen in recent history or the present day? Bosnia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Russia all have have roots of conflict back to 1918.

How can we stop these conflicts? It may not be possible, depending on your views of human nature. I think the first step in dealing with the present crises is to study the history. Understanding the precursor events, the historical context, is the best chance we have of developing workable solutions to world conflicts.

Rob Pincus discusses Class I took in NJ and Female student

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Female perspective of class I took. Very important to acknowledge the fact that women are increasingly taking ownership of their own safety.

Illicit Gov’t Surveillance circa 1988

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Army My Army MOS was 98G, Electronic Warfare Voice Intercept. I was also supposed to be a Korean linguist and understand North Korean military chatter. Fortunately for me, all this kept me around the Monterey Bay in CA for most of my enlistment, one of the prettiest places in the country. Yes, the US Army spent about a year teaching me Korean and never sent me to Korea. After attending the Defense Language Institute, I was stationed at Fort Ord, CA. The hi-tech equipment in the picture consisted of a radio receiver, direction finding processor, a signal analyzer/oscilloscope and a tripod mounted antenna array. Three briefcase size pieces and the antenna weighed over 100lbs (batteries not included!). As part of a “Light” infantry division, usually 3 of us would hump this, plus our regular weapons, ammo, food, water, batteries and maybe a sleeping bag up a hill, mountain or other high spot that gave us clear line of sight towards the “enemy”. After setting up the equipment we would spin the dial looking for traffic and report Frequency, Azimuth and tactical information. The receiver was basically FM and when we had downtime, or were just bored, we might wander down to 900Mhz and listen to whatever we could find. Most calls were in the clear without even simple inverted voice scrambling. We were told it was “illegal” to listen to private citizens’ conversations, but we entertained ourselves many a late night while on an exercise. I’m sure the NSA was listening then as well.

Why George Zimmerman will probably go to prison for a long time.

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None of us were there that night Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. All we know is what George Zimmerman has said and the testimony of all those during his trial. My prediction is he will be found guilty of manslaughter. That gives the jury the compromise they can live with, even if they personally feel he was guilty of murder or just defending himself. In my opinion, George Zimmerman followed bad legal advice and strategy for his defense. My mentor and expert on lethal force shootings, Massad Ayoob, points out in his classes two very salient points related to self defense shootings. The first point is when selecting your lawyer. There are many good trial lawyers and a few excellent criminal defense lawyers. How many are good at defending innocent men? It is quite a different thing. The strategy and tools are different. In hindsight, I think an affirmative defense may have had a better chance. In claiming self defense you are saying, essentially, “I did what I did because I had to in order to save myself from ‘death or grievous bodily harm’ and YOU WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING TOO! If you had been in my shoes.” On that premise, the defense has to really be on the offense to establish it’s points. Mr. Root was a poor witness and didn’t make clear the dynamics of a lethal force encounter. With the affirmative defense the goal would have been to educate the jury on the dynamics of a violent encounter and get them to understand/empathize with George Zimmerman. Understand that he was being assaulted and had a split second to decide what to do. There are no guarantees in the courtroom, but a traditional criminal defense counts on sullying credibility and debunking the prosecution’s theory of the crime. The decision not to testify was a mistake too. Not for a criminal trial where the accused more than likely,let’s be honest, did do something. In the affirmative defense it would be essential for the accused to stand up and exp-lain what he did and why he did it. He has nothing to hide. Yes, it’s a risk to put your client in front of the prosecutor and have to answer his questions, but that what all the pretrial time prep work is for. So, George made his decisions and his attorneys did their best. His fate is in the hands of the jury. Lessons learned? Avoid confrontation whenever possible. If you carry a firearm, get training in its use and just as important, get training in the legal aspects of violent encounters.

Wrath of the Titans: What was I thinking?

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How do you get Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes to do such a bad movie? They must have used all their talent to keep from laughing when doing their scenes. I don’t get Sam Worthington as a hero either, let alone the son of Zeus. Despite the universal panning of Clash of the Titans, it must have made enough to greenlight this uninspiring 3D extravaganza. The effects are all there and they take up almost the entire movie. Even eye candy gets boring after 45 minutes. There just isn’t anything to care about. The characters are too one dimensional and undeveloped. I was hoping for more and got less. The best part of the movie was the trailer for “The Hobbit” that I hadn’t seen before. At least I have something to look forward to.

Myrtle Beach

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I just spent a week down in North Myrtle Beach seeing my Dad, Stepmom, and Brother. My brother has been going down for years and his in-laws for decades, so they know the area. My Dad lives in Florida and it is a not too inconvenient place for us all to get together. My brother gets a condo on the beach and we got a good deal on a place less than a mile away just behind the House of Blues. Being off the beach means lower prices and less parking hassles. The resort had a shuttle that would take you to the beach or the nearby shopping plaza, which is a nice added service.

Our condo was very nice. Well appointed with washer/dryer, dishwasher, icemaker, and all the kitchenware you needed. We had three bedrooms and each had its own bath and even its own entrance, if you wanted to use it.The resort pool was huge and was filled with salt water. Not as salty as the sea, but still salted. It must be cheaper to maintain that way. North Myrtle is family friendly and there were lots of kids and families of all sorts in the pool all day. I would go for a walk in morning up and down the marina and look at the boats and wander around the resort roads. With temperatures in the 90’s, it was easy to work up a sweat and I’d hit the pool for a bit to stretch out and cool down. A large hot tub(small hot pool really) was poolside too. Many a golf widow came out early to get some sun, or maybe just to get away from the kids. There was evidence of real money along the quay with some impressive power boats and cabin cruisers. Hummers, vette’s and a white Ferrari F430 were regular visitors to the boats. I’m not into golf anymore, so I left that up to my brother and dad. I would venture out to various pawnshops to see what I could see. Evenings we’d play poker with some of the older kids. I lost several dollars in Texas Hold’em due to knowing how to play, which is a severe disadvantage with my family.

Capt. Brad preparing for his jetski adventure.

Capt. Brad preparing for his jetski adventure.

There was a jetski outfit on the dock that would lead you out into the Atlantic to see dolphins feeding around the shrimp boats. I had to try it and took my nephew and his fiance too. They rode together on one ski and I was on one by myself. I hadn’t been on a jetski before and the guide scared me a little saying we’d have to make 30mph along the waterway to get out to the ocean and the swells would be over 5 foot. His claim of 30mph was a bit off. Once out of the ‘no wake’ zone of the marina, I was doing 50mph trying to keep up. I learned quickly to use my legs as shock absorbers. I went over some wakes and hit hard a few times. Out in the ocean it was even more fun with the swells. I was airborne a lot going through the surf. It was so much fun I couldn’t believe it. We did see a number of dolphins, but it was difficult to take pictures. I had to try to control the jetski with the waves coming at me and then try to focus on the sea creatures who came up when I least expected them. I got a couple of shots of fins. I tell people they were sharks.


Coming back we got to just play with the jetskis. I gave my camera to my nephew to get some action shots of me, but he apparently had problems finding the power button and so there is no evidence of me flying across the waters of the Intercoastal Waterway. I got great pictures of him and his fiance, of coarse.

The week didn’t last very long at all and I had to return to my hovel here in Western PA. I look forward to my next visit and can see how it can easily become a tradition for anyone.