Friday Morning: The Political is Musical

It’s Friday, and that means more jazz. Today’s genre is Afrobeat, which emerged in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Nigerian musician Fela Kuti is credited as the genre’s progenitor, though Fela maintained drummer Tony Allen was essential to style, saying, “[w]ithout Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.”

Afrobeat fuses a number of different types of music with jazz, including funk, highlife, rock, and folk music from West African cultures. In this video, Beasts of No Nation, it’s easy to hear the different styles of music added as layers underpinned and unified by drums.

The lyrics of many Afrobeat tunes are very political; the album of the same name, Beasts of No Nation, was an anti-apartheid statement released in 1989.

Recommended read to accompany today’s musical selection: The Wealth of Nations by Emmanuel Iduma (Guernica magazine).

Let’s move…

Not far from the Apple tree
Lots of developments yesterday in the  #AppleVsFBI story.

  • In support of Apple, big names in tech file amicus briefs to meet deadline. The two most powerful briefs constituted a who’s who of Silicon Valley. Amazon, Box, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Pinterest, Slack, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Yahoo filed one joint brief. AirbNb, atlassian, Automattic, Cloudflare, EBay, Github, Kickstarter, LinkedIN, Mapbox, Medium, Meetup, Reddit, Square, SquareSpace, Twilio, Twitter, Wickr filed the second. There were several other pro-Apple briefs filed, but none with the economic clout of these two briefs.
  • Cato’s Julian Sanchez may have the best take on yesterday’s filings.
  • UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said forcing Apple to write code for the FBI “could have extremely damaging implications for the human rights of many millions of people, including their physical and financial security,” constituting a “a gift to authoritarian regimes.”
  • Michael Ramos, the San Bernardino County DA, exposed his lack of technology prowess in an ex parte application to participate as Amicus Curiae.

    “The iPhone is a county owned telephone that may have connected to the San Bernardino County computer network. The seized iPhone may contain evidence that can only be found on the seized phone that it was used as a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernardino’s infrastructure…”

    Emphasis mine. WHAT. EVEN. Dude just screwed law enforcement, making the case (using a made-up term) for the iPhone to never be opened.

Brazil’s former president Lula held for questioning as home raided
The investigation into state-run oil company Petrobras now reaches deeply into the highest levels of Brazil’s government. Investigators are looking into former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s role in Petrobras’ corruption, including kickbacks and influence peddling. The investigation’s discoveries threaten the viability of current president Dilma Rousseff’s ruling coalition. Wonder if the NSA was following this when they were spying on Petrobras?

Quick licks

  • Absolute insanity: Amazon’s Kindle devices no longer encrypted (Motherboard) — Well, nobody in this household is getting a Kindle any time soon.
  • Nope, not hackers, not squirrels: bird droppings suspected in shutdown of Indian Point nuke plant last December (
  • Joint US-UK college hacking competition this weekend ( — Wanna’ bet some of these students will be asked about hacking Apple iPhones?
  • Connecticut wants to ban weaponization of drones, thanks to stupid teenager’s home project (Naked Security) — Seems like a federal issue, IMO, but let me guess the gun lobby will step and whine about gun-enabled drones as a Second Amendment right. Surely our forefathers anticipated flying, cellphone-controlled privately-owned gun drones.

Ugh. That’s a wrap on this week, stopping now before this really devolves though I can’t see any distance between here and absolute bottom. Have a good weekend!

22 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    Friday Fun stuff from the CIA website (maybe it’s an oldie, but I just found it)
    “Since World War II, US intelligence agencies have devised innovative ways to defeat their adversaries. In 1944, CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), created the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. This classified booklet described ways to sabotage the US’ World War II enemies. The OSS Director William J. Donovan recommended that the sabotage guidance be declassified and distributed to citizens of enemy states via pamphlets and targeted broadcasts. Many of the sabotage instructions guide ordinary citizens, who may not have agree with their country’s wartime policies towards the US, to destabilize their governments by taking disruptive actions. Some of the instructions seem outdated; others remain surprisingly relevant. Together they are a reminder of how easily productivity and order can be undermined. Here’s a list of five particularly timeless tips from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.” [These sound like many workplaces, no?]
    Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
    Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.
    Organizations and Conferences: When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
    Telephone: At office, hotel and local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off “accidentally,” or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.
    Transportation: Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an “interesting” argument.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    So bird droppings are now weapons of war, eh? Tell that to the Everglades alligators. Researchers have uncovered the symbiosis between them and the Everglades wading birds (egrets, herons). Seems the birds’ worst enemy is the raccoon, and raccoons won’t go where alligators hang out, so the birds make their nests in trees above alligator areas. Good stuff, huh? What’s in it for the alligators, you ask? Well, it seems that alligators that live in bird nesting areas are up to ten pounds heavier than those who live elsewhere. For two reasons. First, they get excess bird chicks (yuk). Also, the bird colonies support lower rungs of the food chain. Bird droppings, fallen regurgitated food and general bird waste support plant and algae growth in the marsh below – which get eaten by aquatic invertebrates and small fish, which get eaten by alligators. [This research job sounds a bit cushy, other than the fact of where you have to go.]

  3. lefty665 says:

    Rayne, too funny, I’d have never guessed you were an originalist, Scalia would have approved:)
    “Streaming” bird poop shutting down the reactor? Talk about hot sh*t. Bet it surprised the bird too.
    Thanks for another good week.

  4. Dan Devine says:

    While pondering the ‘pathogen’ idea, it occurred to me that the iCloud backups, iTunes account history, and network records of the DEVICE might be able to confirm or deny the presence of interesting information without needing to decrypt. Not an iOS guy, I’m an Android developer by trade. I do have some idea regarding the types of info that’s collected by the various ‘stores’ that the manufacturers run though. Here are the questions I’d ask.

    For instance, was the DEVICE jailbroken?
    If not, shouldn’t the iTunes account show which applications were on it? I’m thinking that every app must be installed through the AppStore if it’s not jailbroken (no side loading).
    Can Apple determine if the OS is jailbroken without needing to decrypt?
    If yes (jailbroken), when (approx) did this occur?

    How about network traffic, can it all be accounted for by matching up the IP endpoints?
    If the shooter DID use WhatsApp or some other encrypted messaging app, we should be able to see the traffic. Although encrypted and not readable, it would provide a rough indication of quantity, frequency, and times.

    As the facts come out, I’m less and less inclined to believe that anything is on that phone. Just the knowledge that the shooter and his wife BOTH had personal phones, which they destroyed, leads me to believe that the work phone is a ‘red herring’ in this investigation.

    • jerryy says:

      ” I’m thinking that every app must be installed through the AppStore if it’s not jailbroken (no side loading).”
      That is not entirely true. If you are a developer for enterprise/business establishments, you can run your own app store, so to speak, on your company servers. You get to manage to whole show.
      So …. yes, I can hear the unasked questions you could ask. I am not the one with those answers.
      Additionally, if your run Apple’s server software, you can run a caching app server that stores local copies of various updates for the whole of what your home users would get from the app store.

  5. Rayne says:

    lefty665 (11:29) — Oh, I’m an originalist when it comes to the “well-regulated militia” part of the Second Amendment, which has been virtually ignored for decades with active suppression by gun lobby. A teenager with a homemade flame-throwing gun-enabled drone is far from “well-regulated,” let alone a candidate for “militia.” He was just f*cking around with little regard for outcomes.

  6. lefty665 says:

    Your definition of 2nd Amendment originalist and and the Supreme Court’s vary. I’ve got zero interest in getting into a 2nd Amendment debate. I certainly agree with you on the kid, but at least he didn’t send Hellfire missiles to weddings as we have done. I’d be happy if disarming drones started at the Federal level and worked down from there.

  7. Rayne says:

    lefty665 (1:19) — You know what the real problem is? Not a 2nd Amdt issue, but technology. I am more sympathetic to Ted Kaczynski on technology though I am a bleeding edge adopter. Our culture is so consumer-oriented and profit-driven, that we aren’t having essential discussions about technology development *before* it is implemented. We should never have implemented drones in military applications except for intelligence gathering. We should never have permitted consumer drones without society-wide and legislative debates about limits. The #AppleVsFBI situation is propelled by the lack of legislation placing limits on government wrt technology. And self-driving cars are already on the streets in spite of automakers being ~3 years (or more) behind on infosecurity.

    But that’s why I write here. ;-)

    • bloopie2 says:

      Good thought, but perhaps impractical and nothing new. Was there a government (or even community) discussion and approval before the motorcar, capable of horrific actions, hit the road to replace the gentler horse? That was well over a century ago, and I’d be hard pressed to say we had a consumer/product driven society back then. And as to this: “We should never have permitted consumer drones without society-wide and legislative debates about limits”, I grew up in the age of RC model airplanes, which are (conceptually) drones with propellers that rotate in a vertical plane rather than horizontal. Certainly you could have loaded one up with some firepower and sent it off to war; the principles are the same between big and small (that’s the point made by the toy designer in Flight of the Phoenix). I agree it’s a problem, but it’s one with no solution, for sure.

      • P J Evans says:

        That was well over a century ago, and I’d be hard pressed to say we had a consumer/product driven society back then.

        That was when many current businesses were young. Look up the dates for Penney’s, Sears, Macy’s – late 19th century.

  8. lefty665 says:

    Kaczynski turns out to be a genuine USofA manufactured psychotic, at least from what his brother has to say. Coincidence he and Hillary lived just a few miles apart in Chicago?
    The miracle of the unrestrained free market out from under the dead hand of Gubmnt is supposed to cure all ills isn’t it?
    Is there a difference between the RC model airplane I built and flew as a kid and a drone?
    Now about that bird poop shutting down the reactor… does what the bird eats change the conductivity of the poop? Inquiring minds guano know.
    I’ll say it again, thanks for another good week.

    • bloopie2 says:

      If you were starving out on the land, and all there was to eat was a big pile of bird poop, would you eat it?
      From the content of our comments, I can see that both you and I have had too long of a week –brain no longer working. Roll it up, go home, plunk down in front of TV, and fall asleep.

      • lefty665 says:

        bloopie2 @12 Nah, I’d use it to make gunpowder and shoot something to eat.
        Didn’t see your post until after I posted. Glad to see great minds thought alike:)
        I’m off to play music, so miles to go before I sleep. But sure agree on the brain not working part, I’ll be relying on muscle memory today, intellectual content need not apply. Have a goodun.

        • martin says:

          quote”I’m off to play music, so miles to go before I sleep. But sure agree on the brain not working part, I’ll be relying on muscle memory today, intellectual content need not apply. Have a goodun.”unquote

          So, you are off to play music? You are blessed. Music, to play live, with other musicians, is life’s greatest gift. No one need translate. If you possess the 60 chord system, and are fluent, all else falls to the wayside of the moment. Rhythm on the other hand, is what the soul givith.

  9. Bill Michtom says:

    Two small items, Rayne: Don’t get the Sanchez reference at all; “none with the economic clout of these two amicus” Should be amici. :-)

  10. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (2:14) — Debate is impractical? That’s privilege. Ask the drone-dead and their families how they feel about the impracticality of debate.

    The perception that drones are little more than RC model airplanes gets us to the heart of the matter. How could toys ever hurt us? When adults continue to stay in their comfortable little ruts. How could Hello Barbie ever hurt a child? How could a children’s tablet made by VTech ever hurt a child? They’re just toys.

    We’re not talking about technology with a development cycle of years and decades over which we can debate application as the technology is adopted. We’re talking about technology developed and implemented faster than we can grasp its true nature.

    Future shock isn’t just the gap between our understanding of technology and our technology’s capability. It’s our elected denial, our blindness based in privilege, our consumerist zombieism. Thank goodness our military is ridiculously slow at technology uptake, or this planet would be dead in a heartbeat.

  11. P J Evans says:

    The San Bernardino DA thinks the phone might contain information about a postulated third attacker. And the police chief is going along with him.

  12. lefty665 says:

    martin @19 It sure is right up there near the top of the list. It’s a whole different kind of communication. A picker friend says of his instruments “I let them say the things that words can’t say”. Rhythm is what I do best. Somebody’s got to hold it all together and give everyone else a framework to play off of. Dunno what I’d have done in my life without music.

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