DNS, Malware, Russia, Oh My

I’ve started doing a podcast (under another name).  Mostly it’s been personal stuff there wouldn’t be any interest in here, but today’s was on the Salon article that was supposed to be last year’s October Surprise, why I knew it was bunk, and a theory of what might have actually happened that got blown up into the Trump/Russian server connection.  So I thought I’d share it here too.  It includes a bit of a tutorial on how DNS works to let computers on the Internet put addresses to names so they can communicate.

I’ll be linking more things here soon, as I’ve been figuring out what I want to do with this blog, in possible conjunction with other projects I’ve got going.

You can download audio-only versions of the podcast, or listen to it on YouTube embedded below.

Reap What Thou Sowest

Great post at Men of the West (a site I need to pay more attention to) on how the left is forcing the right to resort to violence, which will backfire spectacularly.  Some scenes that have been coming to my mind lately, in addition to the one he gave from the great Quigley Down Under:

We didn’t have a TV for several years growing up, but the radio was often tuned to country music.  A song that had an impression on me was “Coward of the County” by Kenny Rogers.  The story is that a young man with a bad temper has learned to control it and turn the other cheek, because his father’s fighting led to a death in prison.  This causes people to think he’s a coward, and eventually three men rape his girl, and then he lets loose and ends them.

Then there’s Ender’s Game, with whom many of my readers will be familiar.  At age 6, Ender explains his philosophy of violence:

“We’re willing to consider extenuating circumstances,” the officer said.  “But I must tell you it doesn’t look good.  Kicking him in the groin, kicking him repeatedly in the face and body when he was down–it sounds like you really enjoyed it.”

“I didn’t,” Ender whispered.

“Tell me why you kept on kicking him.  You had already won.”

“Knocking him down won the first fight.  I wanted to win all the next ones, too, right then, so they’d leave me alone.”  Ender couldn’t help it, he was too afraid, too ashamed of his own acts: though he tried not to, he cried again.

Another example, which isn’t as direct but keeps coming to mind because of the wording, is from the Hitchhiker’s Guide series.  The planet Krikkit is enclosed in a thick cloud, so its people are not only not aware of other life in the universe, they’re unaware of anything else in the universe beyond themselves.  When they manage to travel into space and discover other stars, their reaction is a bit extreme, but…

“It’ll have to go,” the men of Krikkit said as they headed back for home.

On the way back, they sang a number of tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life, and the obliteration of all other life forms.

Another related scene is from Roadhouse:

Dalton: I want you to be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.

Guy: Well uh, how are we supposed to know when that is?

Dalton:  You won’t.  I’ll let you know.

From Smoky Valley, by Donald Hamilton, which features an ex-captain in the Union Army who goes west for his health and has had his fill of violence so he won’t even wear a gun, but eventually he’s forced to fight:

“That’s enough,” a voice said behind him.  “You’re killing him.”

There was something odd about the presence of the voice in this place at this time, but he had no strength to waste upon the problem.  “Yes,” he said.

“Let him breathe,” the voice said.

‘”No.”

I could probably go on all day: “He brings a knife, you bring a gun.”  Western history and literature are full of this dichotomy, of men who are capable of great violence choosing peace even at cost to themselves, holding out violence only as a regrettable last resort, but then going at it full-bore when forced.  We certainly have men on our side who like to fight and seek out violence.  But perhaps more importantly, we have many men who don’t like to fight — for whatever reason — so if they have to fight, they want it to be quick and final.  It’s not about anger; by the time they’re forced to fight, they’ve gone past angry to implacable, seeing the fight as an unpleasant task that must be done, so it should be done as efficiently and decisively as possible.

The Left also has men of the first group, who like to fight.  But it really doesn’t have the second group, because that mindset flows from things the left rejects: a commitment to objective reality, traditional virtues, defense of home and family, etc.  Instead, the Left has people who like to take cheap shots, because they think they’re too smart and enlightened to fight face-to-face like dumb jocks.  We’ve seen that online the last couple years, as the Alt-Right has begun using the Left’s tactics like doxxing against them.  Do they respond with, “Finally, a worthy opponent!  Let the battle be joined!”?  No, they respond by whining to authorities and concern trolling for mercy.  They don’t want to fight; they want only to attack.

The same will be true in the physical realm.  Leftists thought it was great fun to “punch Nazis” at Trump rallies as long as the cops disarmed their targets and the Right continued to play fair.  As some on the Right accept that playing fair and being nice have become counter-productive, and it’s time to escalate and put a stop to the nonsense, the Left will run and cry to Daddy Government and Mommy Media.  But by that point, it’ll be too late for shaming to work.  Once you’re sitting on top of the bully pounding away at him (add A Christmas Story to the list above), shame isn’t part of the equation anymore.  You’re just making sure he doesn’t do it again.

If the Left keeps pushing, it will get ugly for them very fast.  The best thing would be for all the college kids who think throwing a few bricks at right-wingers sounds like a fun afternoon romp, to realize they’re out of their element and find something else to do.  Maybe the Left’s core fighters and paid mercenaries would back off without that crowd to hide them and give them fake legitimacy.  Or they’ll keep it up, and it’ll be easier for people on the Right who still want to play nice to see what’s going on, and step up to end it.

Error of Recency

There’s something in human behavior called the “Error of Recency.”  It means that humans tend to overvalue recent information, giving it far more importance than what they previously knew, and sometimes even forgetting the previous knowledge to let the new information take its place.  Our opinions tend to be based on first impressions and last impressions, with too little value placed on the stuff in-between.

So if the events of the previous 99 days convinced us that A is true, and then an event today suggests that not-A is true, we don’t give the new event 1% credence against the other 99%.  We give it far more than that, often even letting it overrule everything we knew before.  If you’ve been married for ten years and you’ve never had any hint that your wife is unfaithful, but one day someone tells you she’s been messing around, the tendency for many is to believe it, or at least to doubt ten years of knowledge, instead of putting the claim in its proper context as one data point against thousands of data points accumulated over a decade.

Now, sometimes a new idea should overrule the old because the old was wrong.  So combatting this error isn’t as simple as ignoring anything new that contradicts our current beliefs, of course.  That would keep us from ever learning.  We have to be willing to entertain new ideas that contradict previous ones.  If the person who claims your wife is unfaithful has video, you have to accept that what you believed before was wrong.

But the natural human tendency is to overvalue recency, and these days, the media uses that tendency to get us chasing narratives that seem convincing and dreadfully important in the moment, but that we’ll be mildly embarrassed for chasing once we settle down.  (Although they try to help us avoid the embarrassment by always having a new tennis ball for us to chase.)

If you want to combat this tendency and prevent the media and other enemies from leading you around by the nose, you must force yourself (because it doesn’t come naturally) to consciously down-value new stories.  When something new comes in, don’t let it fill your mind.  Confine it in a box mentally, and consciously remind yourself, “Okay, this may be total bullshit.”  If it contradicts your previous beliefs, remind yourself why you believe what you do — surely there are reasons — and try to give those pieces of knowledge equal value to the new one.  If you’re picturing this mentally, the box the new thing is in shouldn’t necessarily be larger than the boxes around the old ones.  Then, with recency taken out of the equation (as much as you’re able), you can try to judge them rationally.  You may even find that, when you’re not distracted by your emotional response to the new data, you’ll see that the new data can be explained in ways that don’t contradict the old.

If you learn to do that, you’ll have a correct understanding of what’s going on more often.  You’ll be the guy who stays calm when everyone else is freaking out and jumping to new conclusions at every new story.  When stories develop and new facts emerge that contradict or scale back the original hype, you won’t have to swing back the other way like an emotional pendulum.

Civic Nationalism Isn’t

Civic nationalism is the hope that you can have the beneficial aspects of a nation without real nationalism — that you can replace natus, the connection to the land and its people through birth, with patriotism and civics.

America gave it a pretty good shot in the 1950s. They had probably the best possible combination of circumstances for it: low immigration, the patriotism that followed winning a war, Hollywood having helped to spread that patriotism and sense of national sacrifice for the common good, a booming economy, and every school child dutifully reciting the Pledge every morning. All the elements were in place, and it lasted what, maybe a decade, before they started tearing it apart?

Nationalism comes naturally, by birth. Civic nationalism, as an attempt to create nationalism artificially, doesn’t.  It’s not really nationalism, and before long, it’s not very civic.

Civics 101

Here’s a free civics lesson for fake news organs like CNN:

“Freedom of the Press” means that you can print and broadcast whatever you like — short of outright libel or slander — and can’t be arrested or charged for it, or have your business shut down.  It doesn’t mean anyone is required to talk to you or pay any attention to you.  If someone refuses to answer your questions or kicks you out of an interview session, your freedoms have not been violated, only your pride.  The reporters at my local newspaper and TV stations out here in flyover country don’t have White House press passes, so why should you?  Because you’re a Big Cheese in the Beltway?  Give us a break.

Your dominance of the political conversation was an historical accident arising from the centralized mass communications of radio and television in the mid-20th century.  FDR was the first president to invite a select group of reporters into the White House for regular interviews.  He thought that by flattering the major news outlets in this way, he could guide the message they put out — and he was right.  Subsequent presidents followed suit.  When there were only a few TV networks, it made a certain amount of sense to bring them all in and let them carry the news out to others.

That doesn’t make sense anymore.  We don’t need you.  If I want to know what a politician said about something, I can watch the video of him speaking.  If I want to know what happened at a riot, I can watch video taken from a bystander’s phone and make my own conclusions.  I don’t need you to tell me it was actually a peaceful protest — or bury the story altogether if it doesn’t fit your narrative.  If I want to know what’s happening in Sweden these days, I can ask some Swedes.

Not only don’t we need you, but we don’t trust you.  Your approval levels are at an all-time low because Americans are tired of your lies.  Even leftists don’t trust you; they just like the lies you tell.  Generation X, my generation, never learned to trust you in the first place.  Millenials never even learned to pay attention to you.

If you were smart, you’d purge your organizations of people dedicated to pushing a political narrative and replace them with people who only care about discovering and reporting the truth.  You’d dedicate yourself to hard-nosed but fair journalism, and work on earning back the trust of the American people by adding something to the conversation instead of trying to control and suppress it.  Give that a decade or two, and you might gain back some ground.

You won’t do that.  You’ll double-down, because that’s what you do.  You’ll complain, lie more about your non-existent rights, and throw around words like “fascist” and “racist” twice as much, not realizing that no one cares about your shrieking anymore.  You’ll still be shrieking as you file bankruptcy, and no tears will be shed for you.

Along the way, you’ll also try to get your buddies at big Internet corps like Google and Facebook to help you out by shutting down your competition online.  This will be the best part, because it’ll be like watching a sumo wrestler wearing oven mitts try to catch a greased pig.  We can’t wait.

Prologue

And thou hast taken thy sons, and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne to me: and hast sacrificed the same to them to be devoured. — Ezekiel 16:20

In the early 1600s, rumors spread across the kingdom of Hungary that the Countess Elizabeth Bathory was abducting and killing young girls in occult rites. Although a minister complained directly to the crown, an investigation didn’t start until several years later, after the countess ran out of local peasants (who learned to hide from her) and began to kill daughters of the nobility whom she invited to stay with her to learn courtly etiquette. When she and her servants were finally arrested in 1610, the investigators found dead, dying, and tortured girls locked in her castle. Around 300 people testified against her at her trial. Her associates were executed, but the countess was too connected to nobility for that. She was bricked up in a room of her castle, with just a slit for passing in food, where she died four years later.

In 1986, a Belgian named Marc Dutroux was convicted of kidnapping and raping five young girls. He served three years of a thirteen-and-a-half year sentence. A couple years later, he abducted and abused two 8-year-old girls, recording the acts as pornography, and soon kidnapped a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old. His wife at the time knew about it all, and he had at least one accomplice. He was arrested again, but for involvement in stolen cars. When police searched his home, they failed to find two girls locked in his basement dungeon, even though a locksmith said he could hear someone calling. Those two girls starved to death while Dutroux was in custody. After being released again, Dutroux kidnapped more girls, until he and his accomplices were caught in 1996. A vast quantity of pornography was found in his homes, along with buried bodies. Dutroux claimed to have been supplying a sex ring that included influential members of the government and the police force. The original judge on the case requested armed guards and a bullet-proof car because of evidence that contracts had been taken out on the lives of the judges. About 450 people testified at the trial, and the jury found Dutroux and his accomplices guilty, but the investigation was inconclusive beyond that.  Many Belgians still think a much larger criminal circle was covered up.

In the mid-1990s, social workers in the area of Rotherham, England, began to notice a large number of child sexual abuse and prostitution cases. Local officials investigated, but higher-up authorities balked because the suspects were predominantly Muslim men from Pakistan, and they didn’t want to cause a racist backlash. A 2002 report suggested there were more than 270 victims, but there were no arrests and trials until 2010, when five men were convicted of rape and trafficking in girls as young as twelve. More arrests followed, and by 2015, 300 suspects had been identified. Reports estimate that 1400 children were sexually abused by this ring of Pakistani gangs. The investigation continues — slowly, because it doesn’t fit politically correct wishes.

In a span from the 1970s to the 1990s, hundreds of Catholic priests molested thousands of minors, mostly teenage boys. This happened in dioceses all across the US and in some other countries. It was frequently covered up by bishops, diocesan officials, parish councils, local police, and even the boys and their parents. While it’s likely that no one person knew the full extent of the scandal, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people knew of at least one of the crimes, and kept silent. Many others suspected this or that priest, but did not investigate.

Last week, a massive pedophile ring was uncovered by European police, after a three-year investigation. As of last Wednesday, they’ve identified 670 suspects, arrested 184, and taken 230 children to safety in 30 different countries. They expect to find more children, and think the ring could have as many as 70,000 members who partake of the child pornography produced by the central culprits.

I could go on with many other cases, recent and historical, but that should make the point. And what is the point?

The point is, when stories like this first come out, don’t shrug them off as conspiracy theories too fantastical to believe. Don’t say, “That could never happen here.” It has and it does. Don’t say, “They could never cover up something that big.” They can and they do. After the fact, it always seems like people should have known sooner. Don’t say, “Why have no victims come forward?” Sometimes they can’t, sometimes they do come forward and aren’t believed; but it always seems like there aren’t any victims until suddenly there are, sadly, more than anyone imagined.

Don’t assume that such stories are true, but don’t assume they’re false either. Keep an open mind and watch for the evidence. I think a story of this sort is about to break in the U.S., and there will be a great deal of pressure on people to disbelieve it. It will be compared to crackpot conspiracy theories, and likened to the fears of Satanic kidnappers that were popular in the 1980s, so that everyone will laugh it off. Don’t fall for it. Keep an open mind, keep the cases above in mind, and judge for yourself.

Analyzing Trumpism on the Quick

Vox posted this morning about people trying to get a handle on Trump’s ideology — a tall order, since he doesn’t really have one in the sense we’ve come to expect from politicians.  He has beliefs and goals, of course, but they weren’t formed by years of fitting into a political party and being instructed by special interest groups.  They come from a lifetime of seeing what works — and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t work, because he’s had plenty of failures too — and applying those lessons to situations as they come along.

The irony of so many conservatives attacking Trump is that his viewpoint and attitude are much like that of their idol Reagan. Reagan was more intelligent and educated than people thought, but he didn’t have an ideology based on white papers and party politics either. He had a common-sense, small-town conservatism that came from growing up and working in the Midwest. That gave him an optimism about America that may have led to some mistakes — most notably the immigration amnesty in 1986 — but which also helped him to inspire people and lead them to accomplish things which hadn’t been thought possible.  He had a “Hey, this isn’t right, let’s fix it” mentality that’s very traditional American.

Trump is the same way. His image of America may not always be entirely realistic, but goals don’t have to be. What matters is that he’s going to walk into the office each day asking what is being done to move America in that direction, instead of what needs to be done on the other side of the world today, or what he can say to look good in the media.

The knee-jerk perspective says that a man who owns casinos and is on his third marriage can’t hold a Norman Rockwell-like ideal of America.  But maybe owning casinos and being through divorce, and seeing what that world is like, makes a man long for a better America.