Author Archives: Neal Rauhauser

A Place Of My Own

I have a public presence that is maintained, this blog, LinkedIn, @nrauhauser, a zombie FaceBook account, and a bunch of other stuff like Github that gets used more to read than to publish. There are literally dozens of services where I have claimed my name, poked around a bit, and then walked off, never to return.

But stuff like this keeps happening … free WordPress blogs don’t permit dynamic content, and more and more I find things I want to do that require this.

GristEmbed

This latest random site comes atop two other things I use that pretty much demand iframe.

I just claimed nealr on Tableau Public but I can only show screen shots of things there that are much better as dynamic content, which I hinted at in Tableau: Benefits & Limitations.

There are a lot of maps on this site associated with mostly foreign policy and a smattering of environmental issues. Seems like there isn’t a way to get a count of total images any more, but I’ve used 15.5% of 3 gig of space.

NealRauhauserWordpressMaps

 

They don’t turn up much here (yet), but I have a couple Mapbox accounts and I’ve produced various things with them. Like live links to Tableau, this requires iframe access.

It’s always amusing to me to see what condition I’ve left DNS in for rauhauser.net. Looks like most recently I was clowning around with Cloudflare and redirects. I should probably dust that off, fire up a VPS somewhere, and actually install WordPress.

 

 

Tableau: Benefits & Limitations

During the first four months of this year I was in Indiana’s IVMOOC. I was very excited to find that we were using Sci2, an open source workbench that integrates a variety of other open source data visualization tools. Sci2 was complimented with InkScape, a free alternative to Adobe’s Illustrator. I’ve still got both books from the course on my desk, a reminder that I intend to revisit the course contents on my own.

But then we touched on Tableau. The company’s one line self description is concise:

We help people see and understand their data.

Education on FOSS tools can be uneven. Tableau provides a rich learning environment. There are …

Then I landed an academic version of the software, thanks to this unusual consulting arrangement I have, and that saved me $999. I’m free to tinker with Tableau as much as I want.

The second thing I did after the California power map was a global map of NATO spending vs. Russia. And then I found a couple puzzles I don’t know how to solve.

NATO-RUS-global

The first number is military expenditure in millions, the second is total military headcount. I have numbers for Turkey. What isn’t Turkey visible? OK, proximity to Italy, but what about Russia? There is no excuse for that red dot to not have a proper legend. I could have done a total for NATO and placed it in the Central African Republic with a different color code, but it seems like there should be an easier way to do that.

Then I zoomed in …

NATO-RUS-Europe.png

Now we can see all the NATO countries and their contributions, as well as Belarus and Ukraine. There isn’t any decent way to move the red dot for Russia where it can be seen. Overall the map will be frustrating to anyone who has used Google Maps or Mapbox – it zooms in, it zooms out, it shifts focus to a double click. There is no other way to steer it, so you end up doing a drunken wobble, back and forth, changing focus point and zoom, trying to get what other packages will do with a single mouse movement.

 

What I like about Tableau is that, in addition to producing nice charts, graphs, and maps, it also looks great on a resume all on its own. I need to spend time on this, the same sort of time I’ve spent with Maltego and Gephi. I need to either investigate InkScape a little closer, but it was a bit clumsy, the way some Linux ports to OSX feel, or just suck it up and pay for Adobe Illustrator.

In Which LinkedIn Befouls Itself Again

I made a big production of summarizing things here in Propaganda & Professionalism Revisited, then directed people to my LinkedIn profile. I managed 119 posts before the platform limits and poor policy choices chased me back here. I suspect I’m going to end up switch hitting between showing things I’m doing here and pointing out things I noticed via LinkedIn.

 

However …

 

I have been collecting maps here and I started making my own clear back to the turn of the century, at first for outdoor radio link engineering, but my interests became much more diverse. I’ve been playing with Mapbox for a while and I recently began using Tableau as part of Indiana’s IVMOOC course. Mapbox can be embedded with iframe, but that is forbidden here. Tableau has a place where you can publish live content, and I’m fairly excited about being able to do things like this – a color coded map of electrical generating capacity in the state of California.

CaliforniaPowerGeneration

 

Part of the reason I write is that it provides a way to provide me a chance to pivot to a new topic. Without these endpoints my natural inclination to developing circumscribed interests would leave me eternally excavating areas in which I will be at best a knowledgeable spectator.

Maps? Visualizations? I guess the I’m going to give the classic computer nerd answer to an ‘or’ question – Yes.

Propaganda & Professionalism Revisited

The original Propaganda & Professionalism appeared in May of 2013. More than half of the original thirty three posts have been redacted, primarily to protect my professional associates who lack my hardened, reactive temperament.

The carefully curated Scribd account referenced in these articles was destroyed with a stream of bogus DMCA claims, but the financier for the group behind that isn’t having such a good time due to Rauhauser v. McGibney 02-14-00215-CV. I consider winning a precedent setting 1st Amendment case more than sufficient consideration for the temporary unavailability of an archive I simply republished elsewhere.

I restored 232 posts here in late 2015 after writing on my LinkedIn Profile triggered several requests for additional samples of my work, showing style, breadth, and consistent production. As much as I enjoy self publishing, I don’t imagine there will be any additional content added here, it’s simply too lucrative lending my voice to others to risk any cross-contamination.

ruby-propaganda

One of the things I have done over the last six months has involved identifying and observing hive mind constructs in the real world. This happened in the context of examining the publicly visible process of foreign policy making. I wrote thirty three posts that are at least tangentially related to this pursuit. Hive mind constructs will eventually win out over point source propaganda, but it won’t be pretty to watch.

Shifting Priorities (2013-03-12) Taking classes in social network analysis, natural language processing, and looking to refresh my linear algebra and other related math skills.(REDACTED)

Global Email, Global Relationships (2013-03-24) A large scale study of email usage reveals global communities.

Foreign Policy Process (2013-03-28) Initial recon of foreign policy discussion space, finding key organizations, noticing Wikistrat for the first time.(REDACTED)

Foreign Policy Organizations & Individuals (2013-03-29) More about Wikistrat, foreign policy organizations, and my own personal network.(REDACTED)

Exploring WikiStrat With Maltego (2013-03-30) Wikistrat is a declared hive mind, I ended up spending a good bit of time on them.

Wikistrat’s Analysts & Friends (2013-03-31) Digging deeper into Wikistrat analysts on Twitter.

Wikistrat Full Network As Of 3/30/2013 A checkpoint on what I knew about Wikistrat at this time.

Hashtags & Humans (2013-03-31) Looking at recent tweets, extracting content, and mapping discussions.

Foreign Policy OSINT Perspectives (2013-04-01) Another checkpoint, noting some influential folks as well as even more Wikistrat musings.

Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program (2013-04-02) Started looking at the @TTCSP Twitter account, discovered e-International Relations.

Opening Up To OpenIDEO (2013-04-12) I asked Wikistrat about membership, but I am not credentialed enough, and I suspect there might be some other factors that would work against me as well. OpenIDEO does some similar things and they are quite willing to engage all sorts of people.

A Whole New Perspective (2013-04-14) Wikistrat, e-International Relations, OpenIDEO – there are a LOT of collective thinking exercises out there.(REDACTED)

Individual Reputation Metrics (2013-04-14) Noting what has happened to my online reputation, pondering where this is all headed. The underlying issue is that any individual who strays outside the bounds set by corporate America will get smeared.(REDACTED)

Wikistrart Investigation Summary (2013-04-15) Closing the books on Wikistrat by gathering all the related posts into a single index post.

Exploring e-International Relations (2013-04-16) Starting to give this group the same sort of attention as Wikistrat, but a little more focus on what they said about themselves, to each other, and about the world in general.

Isolating Current Conversations (2013-04-17) A deep dive into the conversations of the moment for e-IR using social network analysis and named entity recognition.(REDACTED)

(REDACTED ARTICLE)

Mining Data Science Central (2013-04-20) Checking out an off site professional network I found via LinkedIn groups. They proved to be imminently mineable. (REDACTED)

Obtaining & Parsing DataScienceCentral Profiles (2013-04-21) I spent a couple of days slow crawling the nearly 12,000 DSC members.(REDACTED)

Data Science Defined (2013-04-23) Some thoughts on what ‘data science’ actually means, and how it applies to the work I am doing with discussions, hive minds, and reputations.

DataScienceCentral Users: No Klout Via LinkedIn (2013-04-24) Klout scores benefit from LinkedIn activity, but there is no way to look up Klout starting with a LinkedIn account.(REDACTED)

Choosing The Wrong Tool (2013-04-24). A visually compelling analysis of DataScienceCentral profiles. Utterly wrong, but it sure looks interesting.(REDACTED)

Looking Forward, Looking Behind (2013-04-24) Reading the Sherman Kent Center Occasional Papers(dead), thinking about the defunct Democratic Study Group, and how hive minds are liable to replace such functions in policy making.

Foreign Policy Recon Review (2013-04-27) I usually change direction every two years and i try to force myself to stick to a particular area each quarter. I recovered from my last lingering Lyme symptom – chronic fatigue – just about a year ago, and now my cycle for each topic is down to six or seven weeks. This one is a sort of bookend for the foreign policy discussion work.

Reputation Reconstruction (2013-04-29) Ruining the reputations of political opponents was the theme behind the schemes of Aaron Barr & HBGary Federal(dead). If we proved nothing else over the last two years we demonstrated that trying this sort of thing on a hardened, reactive target is extremely hazardous. Provoking a hive mind … ANY hive mind … is a recipe for getting your ass kicked.(REDACTED)

Mindfulness In Analysis (2013-04-29) The last of the Kent Center Occasional Papers on the CIA’s analytical process, Rethinking “Alternative Analysis” to Address Transnational Threats is an absolute gem. The CIA and our intel sector has, in general, struggled greatly since the end of the cold war. The monolithic, enigmatic, slow moving opponent with denied areas (Soviet Union) was gone, and fifty years of black and white choices were replaced with a rainbow of small, fast moving threats that blended in with innocuous activity. The current urge by the NSA to record everything is motivated in part by managers past the age where mental fluidity diminishes (around 50) seeking that monolithic problem they understood. It’s gone and the more they try the worse things will get for them.

Global Problems, Global Network (2013-05-01) LinkedIn interface changes now provide an easy way to map connection locations.(REDACTED)

Analytic Bridge vs Data Science Central (2013-05-01) I mined DataScienceCentral and then noticed that AnalyticBridge was very similar. I later found that they were merging, which was not apparent when I wrote this article.(REDACTED)

Data Science Growth (2013-05-05). Hacker is a fair enough description of what I do for a living but the word has a lot of negative connotations. I am going to finish one more class, then start applying the label data scientist to myself. There are two million openings in this area and it’s biased towards managers – those who understand both business and technology. I appear to be in the right place at the right time for once.(REDACTED)

Infomous Word Cloud Tool (2013-05-05) An easy to use tool does named entity recognition and then draws a concept map with the information.

LinkedIn Network Progression (2013-05-06) I regrew my professional network and then I started testing the boundaries on LinkedIn, finally getting myself temporarily suspended the day I wrote this. Systems like Twitter and Digg have been utterly fouled by ideologically motivated e-warriors who censor their opponents by gaming the anti-spam features. A little bit of that exists on LinkedIn but you have to push really hard before anything happens. My suspension is temporary and now that I understand the boundaries it’s highly unlikely to be repeated.(REDACTED)

Musings On Cognition (2013-05-07) Some thoughts on reputation economics, attention conservation, and the thus far unexamined network of Scribd document creators, curators, and readers.(REDACTED)

2,800 Random Anons (2013-05-20) I poached Aaron Socio‘s Facebook friends after his arrest last November and now I have over 2,800 friends, 85% of whom sport some sort of token of Anonymous. I have spent some time examining what they talk about and who influencers are, but this was a purely visual, right brain sort of activity, so I have not written about the specifics.(REDACTED)

There are a variety of hive mind constructs, from the closed, monolithic, credentialed Wikistrat to the open ‘supercluster’ of groups that make up Anonymous. Although they did not use the phrase “hive mind” even the CIA has taken up some of the same methods Anonymous uses in an effort to sharpen their analytical work in the face of the new threats the 21st century has brought.

The infrastructure, handlers, and members of such groups can be attacked. A system may go down, a high profile individual might be removed from play, and either of these happenings can serve to splinter a given group. An attacker who is open about motives and methods will be destroyed outright, as was seen with HBGary and the careers of those involved, or badly damaged and left with long term exposure to future retribution, as was seen with a range of actors from Stratfor to the U.S. government itself.

There are a wide variety of means to communicate with a hive mind, ranging from a face to face conversation with a well regarded handler, to whispering to group members using an open public channel such as Twitter or pastebin. Informal, secretive hive minds are in general less well governed than declared groups with a known focus, and they can be baited into taking actions which are against their own interests. Such communications may be confusing for the group in the moment, but they are examined in great detail after the fact, and if the source is identified there will be retribution. The response often reveals hidden relationships and communication channels, as actors and assets which are not normally visible come into play.

Propaganda techniques are evident within and around any hive mind watering hole, but no longer the sole province of state actors or large, well funded entities. A single talented individual can produce and promote themed content, achieving a response completely out of proportion with the individual’s resources. Banksy is one of the premier examples of this. Adbusters serves as an aggregator for such work and they are credited with triggering Occupy Wall Street in the fall of 2011. The @Adbusters Twitter account has this to say regarding their culture jammer network:

We are a global network of meme warriors who aim to catalyze an unexpected moment of truth–a global mindshift–from which the consumerist forces never recover.

Monolithic corporate forces heavily invested in the status quo are wrestling with networked humans and finding they face a sort of memetic Devil’s Snare. Their struggles may seem to be momentarily successful, but they are only educating their opponent as to their strengths and weaknesses.

The concept of the corporation didn’t really take off until the Catholic church relaxed usury laws three centuries ago. Compound interest depends on exponential growth and humans have pretty much hit the wall in terms of what our environment will support. Any one of climate change or peak oil could undo the perception that we are all consumers living in a conglomeration of free markets. Those two have arrived pretty much simultaneous with a financial sector meltdown and we are entering a period where our society will wind down to the Earth’s solar maximum. A value system based on exponential growth will not survive a disproof by counter example, and Mother Nature responds to neither paper injunctions nor heartfelt supplications.

Some of those networked humans are starting to realize that they need not tear down the corporatocracy by hand and they are already thinking about how and what to preserve. What role does a hive mind play in this? What role can it play when electrical power is intermittent and the supply chains needed for electronic devices are interrupted?

It’s just over a hundred miles descent from the peak Kilimanjaro to the floor Ngorongoro. A modern jet will traverse that path in ten minutes, while a strong man on foot will need ten days. Another day’s walk west lies Olduvai, which is both the cradle of our species and the source of the name for the theory that industrial civilization is a single transient pulse. As for me, I have ten weeks of a math intensive class ahead and I have some other things I must consider, so you will not see much of me during this time. Take the opportunity to think on what I have revealed here … and what has been explicitly left unsaid.

Olduvai

Examining KGS Nightwatch’s Position On Benghazi

I started receiving the KGS Nightwatch updates a few weeks ago and the Nightwatch 2012-12-19 Benghazi Special Comment caught my eye. This is a companion to State Department Witch Hunt, posted earlier today.

Special NightWatch Comment: The most important finding of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) on the Benghazi tragedy is that al Qaida is alive and well and living in Benghazi. The rest is pretty much well known, with a few exceptions.

As harsh as the words of the ARB Report seem about high level failures in the State Department, no one is held accountable. The Board found that mistakes were made. The report is essentially a white wash. Three people at State resigned today, but that is not the same as facing legal proceedings for civil or criminal negligence in wrongful death. The Board gave everyone a pass.

This might be true in an objective world, but the Republican dominated House that is attempting to strangle the State Department, not out of wise policy choices, but out of a desire to harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential chances, is more and more looking like a disloyal opposition. They create the precondition for failures, the failure happens, then they blamestorm on those who were denied the resources needed to do the job? I’m not buying that.

A few things that are confusing in the Benghazi report.

1.The Board found that the ambassador was responsible for mission security and he should have pushed harder for improvements. The implication is the ambassador ultimately was responsible his own death. Hmm….The ambassador made at least three pleas for improved security, including the last on the day of his demise. Other parts of the report make clear that no amount of pushing to improve security would have made a difference with senior State Department leadership.

We need a rapid reaction force ready to deal with problems like this. We have a lot of naval assets in the Persian Gulf, but little in the Med? They had seven hours from the start of the trouble to the ambassador’s death. Sigonella Naval Air Station is about 500 miles from Benghazi, C-130s cruise at 336/mph. There are many issues in acting in this fashion, but if an embassy is going to be overrun? Seems like a fine time to send in Delta Force.

2.The Board found that mistakes were made. The use of passive voice means the Board refused to find anyone, except the dead ambassador, to blame for the mistakes. The message is that things went wrong; people were murdered, but it was no one’s fault. This is the core of the whitewash. This viewpoint evades questions of causality, incompetence, negligence and blame.

Again, if we had a loyal opposition this could be addressed. The House Republicans no longer fit that description, and an inquiry would become a witch hunt, just like that Fast & Furious nonsense.

3. Intelligence did not identify a specific threat at the time, the Board found. This finding betrays a shallow understanding of intelligence warning among the Board members. The 65-year history of US national security affairs since passage of the National Security Act of 1947 shows that waiting for last minute unambiguous warning before taking precautions is waiting to die. The report lists 20 security incidents and attacks against the consulate, but found that body of information insufficient for warning, even on the anniversary of 9/11. One clear issue not mentioned in the report, and an obvious blind spot of its authors, is insight about how intelligence warning empowers decision makers to keep them safe by averting harm or increasing readiness to receive damage. Neither happened in Benghazi.

Our intelligence sector is a swamp, rife with contractors who get paid when there are problems. So they find (or create) them, then get paid for remediation. My view here is very jaundiced, I don’t doubt the process needs improvement, but so does the process around that process, and correcting what’s going on there will be a Herculean task.

4.The Board made no finding about the importance of Allied cooperation in maintaining diplomatic security in Benghazi, according to the unclassified report. This is strange because the British, Turks and especially the Italians — all NATO allies and intelligence partners — had significantly more resources in Benghazi than the US, they said. They could have been consulted or requested to help rescue the US mission on short notice. British, Turkish and Italian foreign affairs officials said in public they were not consulted and their aid was not requested. They also said they would have responded if asked.

This is damning, at least on the surface. If we had friends in the area we could have called for a dust off, why didn’t we?

5.The Board found that the US military did all it could in the time available. Secretary Panetta made the point that there was nothing the US armed forces could do which would have made a difference during the time of the attack. The implication of this finding is that there is little point in positioning counter terror and emergency response teams in Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin within two hours of Libya because they apparently can make no difference in a series of terrorist attacks that lasted for seven hours. This finding looks like a disservice to the US armed forces personnel and units who train for these missions. Plus, the finding of virtual impotence is an intelligence windfall for terrorists in northern Africa.

Yes, Benghazi shows how painfully weak we are. See my above comments on C-130 flight times, and add a batch of littoral combat ships to the mixture. God save me, but this is a use case where an MQ-1C Gray Eagle on a long term observation mission might be just the thing.

6.The Board found that the chains of command and responsibility for the protection of the Benghazi mission were not clear and that agencies were stove-piped. This is curious because the central themes of the post 9/11 intelligence and national security reforms are integration, collegiality and collaboration. Apparently those messages, so vital to combat forces, have not reached those responsible for diplomatic security, eleven years after 9/11, and even for diplomatic missions in high risk areas.

Our procurement and intel sector is a mess – they seek to capture everything, but they fail to assign meaning. We’ve wasted enormous amounts of time sending FBI agents to check out pizza delivery drivers with Arab sounding names because they did something ‘odd’, like sending a family member back home a large wire transfer. Remittance from a family member working in the west is so pedestrian as it should hardly be noticed, but in our rush to never have another 9/11 we just piled on more layers of what wasn’t working in the first place.

The Board found all the things that State did wrong, but the Benghazi attacks expose basic problems in national security crisis management that run far beyond those at State. The entire national security establishment performed no better in failing to save the life of Ambassador Stevens in Libya than it did in failing to save the life of Ambassador Dubbs in 1988 in Afghanistan.

I do not know enough history in this area to comment on specifics. I am unsure if I have the time or knowledge needed to dig deeper. I will say that I expect things to get worse, for us to face more countries going the way Afghanistan, Somalia, and now Mali have done. We need better ways to see what is happening, and to respond quickly to problems.

Many things changed between 1988 and 2012, but the system performed no better when it counted most. That should have been the key finding of this report.

The problems our State Department will face are going to get more numerous and more complex, yet we had a 20% budget cut last year/

Baltic Maps

German Empire 1871-1918

German Empire 1871-1918

Imperial German States

Imperial German States

Swedish Empire

Swedish Empire


Medieval Livonia

Medieval Livonia

Livonia 1534

Livonia 1534


Poland Lithuania 1600s

Poland Lithuania 1600s


Livonia 1600

Livonia 1600


Sweden in Baltic

Sweden in Baltic


Sweden 1560-1815

Sweden 1560-1815


Finnland Russian Territory

Finnland Russian Territory


Baltic Sea Ports

Baltic Sea Ports


Baltic North Sea Ferries Baltic North Sea Ferries[/caption]
Rail Baltica Regional

Rail Baltica Regional


Rail Baltica Estonia Routes

Rail Baltica Estonia Routes

Estonia Electrical Grid

Estonia Electrical Grid

Ten Commandments of OPSEC by @thegrugq

He bills himself as both an ‘Internet Security Pornstar’ and ‘Cultural Attaché’, the latter being a U.S. embassy position often filled by CIA operatives. The real name of this South African expat who now lives in Bangkok is a carefully concealed secret, which is certainly a wise move given that he is the world’s foremost ‘0day broker’. An ‘0day’ is security industry slang for a new software vulnerability and if you find one affecting Apple’s mobile devices they can sell for as much as $500,000. If you want to ‘level up’ as a hacker, you should be following and heeding the advice of @thegrugq.

I collected the slide deck for the presentation he gave at DEFCON 22 in August along with @octal and @marcwrogers, because I was interested in their travel router concept … and having written for House, Senate, and Gubernatorial candidates I was completely mortified by this egregious editing failure.

An Editorial Abomination

An Editorial Abomination

I covered my eyes for page four of the slide deck, but when I revisited it a few days later I decided these commandments ought to be turned into a single well formatted page. Here it is in both image and text format.

The Ten Commandments, @thegrugq Style

The Ten Commandments, @thegrugq Style

The Ten Commandments of OPSEC
by @thegrugq

Thou shall keep thy head down.
Thou shalt not reveal current or past operational details.
Thou shalt not reveal future plans.

Thou shall separate business from pleasure.
Thou shall compartmentalize business, lest one lost sheep cause a stampede.
Thou shalt not piss on thine own doorstep.
Thou shall keep thine operation contraband free.

Thou shall be proactively paranoid.
Thou shall give no one leverage over thee.
Thou shall trust no man beyond his assigned compartment.

This has been sitting on my desktop for almost five months and I’ve been on a cleaning binge. The travel router concept is a good one and it fits into the cipherspace category. Do take the time to read the slide deck, there are many additional treasures in there.