Posted Jul 24, 2020 at 11:41. Revised Apr 25, 2021 at 18:54.
The tranquility at ChaosFarm has been interrupted once again. Still, no one expected everyone to accuse everyone else of discrimination, bigotry, and spreading micro-insults.
It all started with the need to prune several trees having some low branches that were too high to cut from the ground. The cuts required a ladder, and there was no safe way to make a stable ladder placement. So what to do?
One possibility was to hire a tree guy to make the cuts, but those guys don’t work cheap. JD then hit on the perfect solution, or so he thought. JD’s solution was deceptively simple: buy a cheap pole saw and cut the branches himself. The ladder problem was solved. He did not suspect that this would turn into a microcosm of the FUBAR Oberlin College BOT and Administration vendetta against Gibson’s Bakery.
A quick trip to town and a stop at Harbor Freight plus a mask and some social distancing yielded the desired pole saw.
Back in the day, one would never find a woman in a place like Harbor Freight. Women are among the H-F customers today, and they are shoppers in their own right rather than tag-alongs. Surprisingly, all the many customers in Harbor Freight were wearing masks. It was a scene of social tranquility in a sea of national chaos.
After reading this Chinese manufactured pole saw’s extensive directions, it assembled quickly. The instructions were accurate, thorough, and the saw’s engineering design was excellent. All was going well.
Anyone who knows anything about farming knows that whenever a farmer gets a shiny new piece of equipment, every farmer in the neighborhood notices it and comes by to check it out.
JD had forgotten that his farming neighbors were mostly East-European ethnics who still harbor a touch of their historical prejudices and rivalries. These neighbors are from nearby Cleveland, which has a large number of people who have East European ancestry. Being able to move to the country and farm is a status symbol among these hard-working people.
The first person to view the magnificent new pole saw was a Hungarian neighbor from down the road. He was a bit hurt that Poles have their name on a saw type, and that Hungarians do not. He also said that Hungarians were just as capable of designing a saw as were Poles. Maybe more so. Hungarians, therefore, deserved to have a saw design named after them as well.
Similar thoughts were expressed by a Slovak neighbor who saw the blatant exclusion of Slovaks from the world of saw design naming as offensive and discriminatory. He was the first to advocate a protest and civil disobedience action against Harbor Freight for their abhorrent saw naming policies.
JD’s Ukrainian neighbor brought another twist to the table. In addition to their being no Ukrainian saw, he resented the very idea of a Hungarian saw because Hungarians, unlike Poles and Slovaks, were not his Slavic brothers. Moreover, this gentleman pointed out that the pole saw was manufactured in China and was fraudulently represented as a Pole saw.
This misnaming proved to be the unifying factor that returned them all to friendship. The neighbors agreed that Harbor Freight was the culprit and that litigation and boycotts against Harbor Freight were necessary because assigning the Polish nationality to a Chinese saw was blatant consumer fraud.
Things got even messier when I pointed out that the pole saw was a Portland chain saw. There was immediate discord over whether or not the referenced Portland was in Oregon or Maine. They eventually agreed that the saw had to be from Portland, China because of its name.
Upon learning that the chairman and CEO of Harbor Freight was Eric Smidt, they all agreed that this name sounded sort of German and that they all hated Germans. Hence the plan to extend the H-F boycott to Eric’s home because he had created so much confusion over who could claim credit for making the saw.
Everyone involved also decided that pole saws are for sawing poles, specifically the North Pole and the South Pole, and that the failure to correctly prune those poles has been responsible for climate change and global warming. Therefore, all humankind must join ranks in protest to enforce proper pole pruning.
That’s where the micro-insults in this cutting edge saw debacle now stands. Somehow, the current discord in the world has become modeled on pole saw naming conventions.
Gathering Intelligence Intelligently
Originally published July 26, 2016
International intelligence gathering and spying are boring activities most of the time because most intelligence gathering consists of desk work and analyzing readily available information. Easily accessible information is an essential input to decoding what another government is doing or plans to do.
A case in point is the recent massive leak of sensitive information. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compromised tens of thousands of classified documents because she handled them exceptionally carelessly. An uninformed observer might dismiss her carelessness because most of the mishandled information appears to be unimportant.
An intelligence analyst knows that the bulk of the information collected is of little or no apparent value. Only after assembling the many pieces into a picture of what is going on do some insignificant items become important. JD Nobody is appalled that so many people dismiss this process as being inconsequential. Doing so shows an appalling ignorance of the importance of trivia when gathering intelligence. Let’s walk through how an analyst could process insignificant facts to discover much more critical information.
The Secretary of State sends an email to her daughter via insecure channels to arrange to get together for breakfast the following day. Getting together for breakfast is hardly a world-changing event. The next morning the Secretary sends her daughter an insecure email canceling the breakfast appointment and explaining that the Secretary must make an emergency trip to London.
A foreign intelligence agency intercepts these two emails and discerns that this emergency trip is almost certainly due to a developing monetary crisis in England. An innocent breakfast cancellation email reinforces information from other sources that a monetary crisis is imminent. This new information confirms to the foreign power that it can safely take market positions that will generate billions in profit at the cost of everyone else once the crisis blows out into the open. The breakfast cancellation has provided the key to turning the suspect crisis information into actionable information. Every piece of trivium potentially contains essential intelligence. Trivia can also be critically important in generating disinformation to trick an opponent.
There have been two recent instances in the US where the failure to secure email communications adequately has made much valuable information readily available to hostile foreign powers. The first instance is the private email server used by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. The second instance is the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) failure to secure its embarrassing email communications adequately. Hackers broke into much DNC email correspondence and posted it on the Internet, with the successful intent of disrupting the American political process.
This disruption succeeded quite well, generating much furious discussion over who stole the information, what the motives were, and how to react to the manipulations and betrayals revealed in the emails. Unfortunately, this incident’s reaction was an endless trial lawyer-style argument over who was innocent or guilty.
Assigning blame has become a perfect storm in this situation because many persons had handled the embarrassing emails. The players controlling the foreign intelligence part of the game have thereby dispersed their victims’ guilt by allowing everyone to point the finger at someone else. Assigning blame is central in a court of law but has little relevance to dealing effectively with the dirty tricks of the espionage and disinformation world.
Worse yet is the time-proven principle of not informing the top-level affected person of the mess and dirty tricks underfoot. Intentionally ignoring what is going on lets the boss claim complete ignorance of the dirt should it be exposed later. Until then, the boss can publicly bask in his deliberate ignorance of what is happening.
Should the subordinates’ treachery be exposed, the boss’s reaction will be one of well-scripted horror, and a few subordinates will be scapegoated for their “rogue” behavior. The operatives playing the dirty tricks are hired into their jobs because they clearly understand that playing dirty tricks is part of their job description, even when they are given explicit orders to the contrary.
Subordinates understand that they must take the blame should their shenanigans turn sour. They act expecting that any needed legal and financial help will clandestinely come out of the woodwork to mitigate complications resulting from following their phantom marching orders.
Asking proper questions
In the Complexity Trap world of intelligence and espionage, the trial lawyer’s escape via the route of willful ignorance does not work. Trial lawyers are glib problem obfuscators, not the analytical problem solvers required for information analysis. Intentional ignorance becomes stupidity once people perceive the top dog as incompetent because he did not ask the proper questions.
Turning intelligence and information processing into an exercise in trial lawyering is an exercise in stupidity because results matter far more than blame for mishandling information. Understanding this difference is critical to winning the currently underway Third World War. The Third World War is a war of cyber intelligence and psychological terror. Trial lawyers are ill-equipped to lead in this war because losing a court decision is not remotely as disastrous as losing a cyber guerrilla war based on terrorism.
Had the Oberlin College BOT and Administration done some basic intelligence gathering and analysis, their FUBAR vendetta against Gibson’s Bakery would not have happened.
/s/ JD Nobody (No pronouns!), OC ’61.