Friday, March 27, 2009

in which we get the unconscious!

So somebody reviewed 1,302 songs by the same number of bands, giving each one six words only.

But how to centrifuge this toxic dump? Clearly there was no possibility of scraping the page and wget-ing the lot; Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is shit) applies to music as it does to few other things. I thought of trying to express my tastes in a set of criteria, that I might even implement in a python script, but on reflection this seemed to be too much like work, and anyway, it didn't really fit the aim. I wanted surprises, not confirmation.

Then I had an idea; what about applying some sort of statistical method? Yer man had given each song a rating between 1 and 5; as you know, Bob, if you ask people in a survey to rate something on a scale of 1 to 5, they will go for 3 far more often than you'd expect from a normal distribution, because it's the safe choice. But presumably the ones he gave a top rating to must have something.

And there were basically two ways a song could get into the bottom rank; either it was objectively arrant shite, or else it was incompatible with the other guy's tastes. Now, I have no idea what those are and no reason to assume they are anything like mine, so in fact, being one-starred could actually be a recommendation. Similarly, being top-rated could be either evidence of quality, or else just a matter of taste. And I had no reason to imagine either case was more likely. Further, the principle of management by exception was in my mind; the top and bottom 10% must be doing something right or wrong, so they're the ones to look at.

So I decided to ignore all the 2s and 3s and most of the 4s, and then make a selection from the ones that remained, based on unreason and hunch, and at least once on the basis that they came from Leeds.

And? I'm grinning with delight at the results, a pile of 31 MP3s of which 30 are by people I've literally never heard of and at least 28 are utterly great. Here's the really interesting bit, though: I can't tell which ones were 1s and which were 5s. Well, there is at least one exception to that, but as a rule, no, it is far from obvious. And why are so many fronted by women? This isn't something I'd noticed as a taste, although - horribly - I just remembered that my father owns a vast amount of vinyl by early 1970s hippy-chick singer-songwriters. Boxes and Nick Hornbyesque boxes of 'em. That's hardly characteristic of the list I came up with, but it is scary. Perhaps it's sampling bias - or maybe the quasi-automatic process got around my unconscious prejudices?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


You may have noticed that the Viktorfeed is down. The server it runs on was updated last night to the new version of Debian, including a new Python installation, and Something Went Wrong involving the conversion of strings to struct_time values. If you do this on my laptop:
Python 2.5.1 (r251:54863, Jan 10 2008, 18:01:57)
[GCC 4.2.1 (SUSE Linux)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import time
>>> timeinput = '25032009210500'
>>> t = time.strptime(timeinput, "%d %m %Y %H %M %S")

you get this:
>>> print t
(2009, 3, 25, 21, 5, 0, 2, 84, -1)

but if you do this on the server:
Python 2.5.2 (r252:60911, Jan 4 2009, 21:59:32)
[GCC 4.3.2] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
> import time
> timeinput = '25032009210500'
> t = time.strptime(timeinput, "%d %m %Y %H %M %S")

Ada Lovelace appears in the mirror...and she's *not happy*.

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 1, in
File "/usr/lib/python2.5/", line 330, in strptime
(data_string, format))
ValueError: time data did not match format: data=25032009210500 fmt=%d %m %Y %H %M %S

I'll fix it as soon as I can.

Update: We're back. The problem related to Bug #1730389, and when that was fixed it turned out email.utils.formatdate() had also changed, wanting floats only rather than struct_time objects, and of course I could go back to using Sqlite3 as I did developing the thing rather than pysqlite2.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

gaseous Goodhart

China's top climate change negotiator wants the Chinese export sector to be excluded from their targets, and "consumers to pay" instead. This is not good news.

For a start, the tactics. It means accepting the principle of letting some special interests off. We know, after all, that there will be the mother of all lobbying wars about this, all wanting their pet interest group to be left out. Therefore it's best to hold a firm line as long as possible, minimising the damage. Also, even if this isn't just special pleading, the output (no CO2 target for much of Chinese industry) is identical to the effects of special pleading. So it's worth treating it as such until proven otherwise.

After all, if it proved to be honest, you can always make a gracious concession later; but you can't take back concessions you made earlier so easily.

Secondly, there is no end to this argument. If they claim a right to export all they like and bill the customer for the CO2, then for this right to be effective, they must also have a right to import capital goods - machine tools, Siemens power stations, that kind of stuff. Wham, half the German engineering sector wants a note from mum too. What about the primary exporters? And come to think of it, if it's the consumer's fault, some of that responsibility must rest with the people who lent them the money...which for the dollar zone was the People's Bank of China, State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

More seriously, it's a really bad idea on the substance. The mechanism of action is something like this - imports containing a lot of embodied CO2 would be taxed and would cost more, so people would buy less carbony ones, and Chinese exporters would stop producing so much CO2. But it's a very long set of tongs; too many moving parts. Unless the energy used in the product is a hell of a lot, the tax component won't be that great compared to the range of prices for that kind of product. The exporter might not notice, or might attribute the drop in sales to something else.

Just taxing fossil fuel at the point of sale, already, has the huge advantage that it falls directly on the user, who has the most control over how much gets used, and it's explicitly and unmistakably down to the fuel.

Further, how many SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units - individual products) does the Chinese export sector produce? It's got to be in the tens of thousands at the least. Under this proposal, each one would have to be carbon-audited accurately and regularly and assessed for taxation on that basis. It is far from clear whether the importing state or the exporting state would do this. Just taxing fossil fuel, already, involves less than a dozen SKUs, which happen to be bulky, smelly, heavy, or black and dusty, and therefore difficult to hide on a big scale.

And every manufacturer would have a fine incentive to lie about the CO2 emissions associated with their product; if you can bring yourself to put melamine in the milk, you can surely lie about your electricity bill. It's the worst Goodhart's Law violation I've seen for a long time.

But here's the really weird bit. Whether the CO2 tax is applied at source as a fuel tax or a cap-and-trade system, on crossing the border like a tariff, or at the point of final sale like VAT, the economic upshot is essentially the same; goods subject to it would cost more than goods not subject to it, and goods subject to it that contained more CO2 would cost more than ones with less.

Either yer man is hoping that the importing states wouldn't bother to impose the tax, or else his argument is actually indistinguishable from the one he's trying to shoot down - that there should be a tariff on goods from states that don't implement a CO2 tax.

Alternatively, he's just talking his book, setting a negotiating marker in a cost-free fashion. In which case, time to pick it up and run it back.

If this leaves you in need of an optimism fix, have a look at this GSFC feature. The "shorter": ozone depletion would have made it unsafe to go out in the sun for as long as five minutes essentially everywhere by 2065, but we, ah, fixed it. (Via German ScienceBlogs; if you speak German there's also a fascinating interview with Paul Crutzen here.)

Holbrookespeak, you listen!

This sounds a lot like sense to me. Richard Holbrooke thinks destroying Afghans' poppy crop is stupid:
"It hasn't hurt the Taleban one iota," he said, "because whatever money they're getting from the drugs trade, they get whatever they need whether we reduce the acreage or not."

The US said last month that poppy cultivation had been reduced by 19% last year. Despite the drop, the UN estimates that Afghanistan accounts for 90% of the world's illicit heroin supply.

"The United States alone is spending over $800m a year on counter-narcotics. We have gotten nothing out of it, nothing," he said. "It is the most wasteful and ineffective programme I have seen in 40 years." Mr Holbrooke said much of the money should be redirected to helping Afghanistan's farmers.

He spoke of a "very significantly expanded agricultural sector job-creation set of programmes - irrigation, farmer to market roads, market places, seed."
The most wasteful and ineffective programme of his career; and he went to Vietnam.

Pyongyang: no carrier

HYPOTHESIS: Anyone who uses the word "cyberwar" where they could use the phrase "network security" is one or more of the following - a) incompetent to discuss the issue, b) trying to sell something to members of a), c) lying.

EVIDENCE: This ridiculous drivel at the sad husk of what DefenseTech used to be before Wired hired all the talented people and just left the right-wing mouthbreathers. North Korea is the third strongest threat to U.S. and allied information security? Seriously? North Korea doesn't even have redundant submarine cable connectivity. (Now, South Korea would be a truly formidable enemy, with all those people from Samsung, KTF, SKTel, LG etc...)

And where are the real cyber-attackers? "Cyberwar" is still a PowerPoint presentation, but attacks on IT systems are as common as spilt beer, and they come from non-state actors. But there is no sign of, say, the RBN, the Storm botnet, or indeed anyone else. In fact, the best demonstration of my point would be this quote:
It is important to remember: this is Cyber Warfare 1.0. The next iterative release is on the whiteboards of think-tanks right now.
Indeed. Not in national signals-intelligence agencies, or on the IRC channels of disgruntled hackers, but other think-tanks. The real enemy is your rival in the budget wars.

shooting bits off the zombies

There should be a special term for the phase in the adoption of an idea between the point at which everyone accepts its desirability, and the point at which it wins over other ideas politically. This isn't the same as the point of implementation; it's quite possible for your idea to go into practice, but still to be in the queue elsewhere. So here we are; from E-Health Insider, it looks like the NHS NPfIT is looking at throwing away the disastrous Cerner and iSoft systems and issuing new tenders. In fact, some trusts in the South East have been permitted to sort their own problems out.

However, David Nicholson (the very model of a modern managerialist) is in charge and he for some reason won't let all the other trusts do this. Even though it is clearly sensible, and is being done, it's still in the special gap of political unacceptability. I thought this was interesting:
Nicholson said a key problem that the NPfIT programme had faced throughout was the unique requirements of the NHS and what it is trying to achieve. “There is no system off the shelf we could go for.”
Yet the programme was set up so that the NHS IT community, to say nothing of the NHS clinicians, and even less of the patients, had absolutely no input to it. Both Cerner and iSoft are trying to adapt off-the-shelf products from the US. And the attempts to save by outsourcing were disastrous.
“The Lorenzo product is being developed at Morecambe Bay, so we’re really optimistic that something will come out of that, but its not inevitable,” he went on. “And I think we’ll know over the next few months whether these products will actually be able to deliver the things they promised to do.”

That might have been an idea before you bought them, eh. Further, note that he thinks Lorenzo still might get somewhere because of in-house development work...
The other issue he said that was being focused on is how to deliver products more quickly and to give trusts more flexibility. Answering questions on the Summary Care Record, the NHS boss said it was possible to de-couple the Summary Care Record from the wider CRS development and simplify it.
This is damning to the entire project. If the record formats can be standardised without the rest of the system, there is no reason for "the system" as sold to Tony Blair to exist. Every trust could have its own system as long as they used the standard.

Remember, the only way to kill a zombie is to aim for the head. By the way, it's not as if the Americans don't have Bad Medical IT as well.

tearing up the astroturf

Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads has a hell of a story. Now, I've not always been totally convinced by Tim; he spends an inordinate amount of time pursuing minor politicos for breaches of netiquette I think I'd just forget. But two of the crucial principles of journalism can be summed up as the clam ethic - once you get hold of a story, clamp down and never let go - and the Take That principle - never forget. They always want you to forget.

So, the Sun ran a patently ridiculous story that jihadis on the interwebs were threatening Alan Sugar. Apparently they imagined that he had to be in the story because otherwise the public wouldn't grip it; I would have thought that a nontrivial percentage of the population would have been delighted. Hey, I grew up with an Amstrad PCW. But the Sugar element was the crucial break point, because it was this bit that was reliant on their source, who turned out to be a self-made spy called Glen Jenvey, who turns up all over the place in moderately well-funded "anti-terrorist" astroturf exercises.

And so on, and so on, until he demonstrated that Jenvey was a) the author of the threats, not just a reporter on them, b) using Patrick Mercer MP (for it is he) to lend weight to his nonsense, and the British Ambassador to Afghanistan's brother too, and c) the sort of shameful arse who throws around accusations of paedophilia. Richard Bartholomew has been doing good work on this too.

It's a very good question just how many terrorism stories (especially ones that have the "Internet" flag set - it means "stuff I don't understand" to a lot of editors) are the work of these people, whether the upscale, Decent version or Jenvey's Comedy Gladio.

the Israeli occupation of Harrowell

More Dadadodo. Here's some Daniel Davies:
The rule was founded in its Allied Masonic Daniel Davies industry; completely! This seems to go on strike; the state of international Economics and philosophical heroes Subcomandante Marcos Will be done about two might be the Grand lodge of its Allied Masonic Service Association reports in, Dubai the heck is the Ramones film Rock n Roll High School the martial artist and shorter hours and Accepted Masons of hat An award winning facilities manager in the name to get from my efforts: how to join and approximately times over budget: itself The new Desom society was An actuarial conflict built in Lampeter where Jimmy Carter once helped to have and shorter hours and Rites that it was formed in the Initiatory degree, the bigger pies and organisations.

Well, as a business week work to join and similar, for deaf people and
so far it succumbed. The crisis, once More back to normal, cutting
the name but the state of the as far, it meant that philosophical
heroes Subcomandante Marcos Will be interested in Wigan. Update - it seems it can rule?

Yours truly. (The title of this post was itself taken from the output.)

And his oratory that would have had the ego of the Internet is that they are the terrorist suspects identified in the distant operations poor do some sort of a shit, but either in Afghanistan, and GST up

On reactionaries, SourceForge at tech company staring at Khartoum in the same time it's like a body half funded by Alex PM spies Londonstani has now. Professional reactionaries, or Egham, Surrey; blog the station set of the Palestine of Scotland's board the day,in the cocktail of carbon the thing signed and control and cry.

None other flexible friends and helps keep the works to deal of months, carbon, with teh China.

ITV kills The equivalent of Scotland's board, and the engineering wing at the new, version of war on the big original time, it doesn't suggest any in the Royal Reply to the thing you'll note is released under various naval operations in return for their polar opposite, the great deal record either a sniper colleague of war on Terror drivel, where they are the ducts the World now being shut down for more surprising.

Melanie Phillips, again:
It received financial assistance from Muslim demonstrators, a hugely unwarranted risk by the trying the few who are graduates. Email to have? The Spectator Business Wine Club Book is her most recent by Israeli nine killed by an Afghan intellectual of Mathematical Physics at the world during the wealthy Gulf countries. And fast. Email registration Free quote now a society what terror. BOSC LEBAT, SW France of occasions round The United Comments Peppers and tomatoes today, it received financial assistance from France: of antisemitism Political alienation and eliminating the few who are graduates: of nuggets from a friend Permalink Comments That we are demonstrably false; d, the operation; Cast Lead, Israeli forces.

Oliver Kamm:
Hence the Soviet discussion is totally unacceptable. Sadiq Khan, who suffered and republican criticism are an even more than that trade but he concludes. In having been sorry to be. While Galloway, is fully consistent with This way is necessarily the UK and criticises Nick for a member for some years ago that the greatest men who threaten us all known Communist. Those who ever lived was a right of Communism from serious political stances: British government is indeed, not ignore the tasteless cartoon is Global trade But that description comes from various Muslim organisations to Gold Standard Paul half a small point but I know nothing it's a friend that has been exercised,

Communist ideology

Gas chambers Where Fabians would be done as anyone well;known Communist rule has been purged. Gas chambers Where but note Galloway's heroes this will have little direct experience of how to enter the cartoon is necessarily the journalists who've fronted the gold. Posted at the a fool, and he was himself a conundrum.

Those who threaten us all: his best to declare the arrangement supposedly underpinned public from this crisis, as well known. Communist rule has emerged that It's a leader writer at PM in the benefit of debate to Islamist reaction. participle, and now the Fabians would not about competition but I've seen no evidence that in the Observer was to be his depiction of University fees, should for to an undergraduate, when I say, this went further entry in quoted in tuition fees a very few sensible Comments (TrackBack university fees they were in high esteem by slightly altering my view in International politics Permalink Comments TrackBack on the value accorded to combat terror the American Communism from serious Nick for away is necessarily the Comments TrackBack the obvious)!

Hughes British government is a long scholar who threaten adds to me how to state the Comments saying the Fabian Society mid on its own fate as well. In England and massive crimes of the genitive Case for a fool, and republican who ever lived was less an a leader writer. Subscribe to an essential part the participants were in a serious political Commentary may the station to the Soviet Union, Is a but it's a social democratic Wing needed to the begins but new editor of Christians in Iraq. It ought to be his Washington Which Krauthammer, neatly summarises.

The midst of public or private; speak only Stalin, Robeson, vehemently is of university fees they of fascism.
Kamm: raging paranoia.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The truth caught out in stockinged feet

After some fiddling I got Jamie Zawinski's Dadadodo, a program which analyses texts using a Markov chain and then generates random sentences based on their content, running. Obviously there was only one way this could go - straight to Melanie Phillips' blog. I reproduce below the output from the machine, verbatim.
DOCTYPE HTML public Melanie Phillips is: stopped.
We can but wish.

Comments Specialist high Value and eliminating the country and is; sleepwalking towards Israel certainly will most likely carry out a complicated thing. From most by the importance of the importance school in Iraq, rubbish out a society what can surely only be easy.
"Comments specialist, high value and eliminating the country, and is sleepwalking towards Israel" - could anyone dispute this as a characterisation of Melanie Phillips? High value, I agree, is harder to sustain, but it could be as in "high value target".

Iranian president Bush, being defeated by offering to date, objections to a simplistic manner: which thinks logically and fast. Afghanistan comes A hugely unwarranted risk by the Al Qaeda leadership. Additionally, it used to dig have to man made on Feb. The military and rationally British approaches To kill Beware The truth caught out in stockinged feet once it is her most by our staff Liz suggests email to be easy.
The military and rationally British approaches to kill; I'm thinking Basil Liddell-Hart and the indirect approach here. Note the feet theme - it'll come up again.

Tiberius If infantry soldiers are deviating from Muslim demonstrators, a treasure trove of their property, say soldiers are waging a daily News Commentary for the theory have dream and listed homes.
By George, you've got it. It's a perfect distillation of neo-con aesthetics; not only is there a lot of fantasy violence here, but the soldiers lack Will, and need to be threatened with expropriation to make them go through with it. There's a reference to Podhoretz's Commentary, a bit of property porn as well (listed homes?), and the obligatory dog latin.

During Operation. GetTracker, UA pagetracker; gat; States (the truth caught out a Free quote now). Https. Peter Hoskin the sheer madness of such positions as complex as Kafka esque Zionophobia continues to foment hysteria and Friday in Germany, and listed homes.
Again with the real estate.

Continue reading: People tomorrow. From Muslim Afghanistan: comes a world Labour is no evidence that we are ordered to the Washington Times Roger Chapin is the high Value and the cradle of the offensive.

Note: who is Roger Chapin? This guy, who has been writing articles for Human Events Online on "How to Win in Iraq", can I put this?...taking a large cut of money he collected for wounded soldiers.

And bigotry across Europe, The number of such positions as the Israel certainly will necessarily have to negotiate with the foreign Arab support speakers included combat pilots and pony show Melanie Phillips Blog Daily News Commentary for Spectator SpectatorBusiness Wine Club book is a fateful calculation?

Email to man made on Feb. Email to dig up about morality the dig up about Iran, which States, will necessarily have? Continue reading. Email to the school; in Germany, stockinged feet once it received financial assistance from today's culture as complex as The many children are graduates of the war in the Spectator prototype scriptaculous Peter Hoskin the mob really hates about the United States, will most likely carry out a simplistic manner. Peter Hoskin Yet The Fakhurawar in, on Feb.
The feet thing again! And note the neediness here - all those e-mails whizzing out, demanding someone else to do some work. Email to dig up about morality - is she (or maybe some downtrodden researcher) trying to tell us that the columns aren't always her own work?

Just to be sure, I ran the program again. This is the last sentence it produced, before unaccountably erasing all traces of itself from my hard, of course it didn't do that. Thank God I can have a machine read Melanie Phillips for me. Anyway, here goes.
And bigotry across Europe, the story it, is her blog Daily Mail columnist.

Update: Temptation. I ran it on an Abu Muqawama post.
Plus, The very least someone is against my opinion. As possible but where are rarely good question, but I was wondering about a Blog dedicated to crack addict moms and security to reconstruction stuff pioneers do not about a power
So was I, baby, so was I...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

meet the new boss...

Ruth Sunderland of The Observer (aka Decent Pravda) is on a campaign for more women on the boards of big companies. It's a worthy aim in itself, but I don't believe for a moment it will address any of the things she thinks.

In fact, the problem is that it's nowhere near radical enough. For a start, the board of directors in itself is an institution that doesn't have a great record recently. In all the major corporate failures of our time, it has been quite clear that the board didn't exert real supervision, control, or discipline over the executive management. Neither executive nor nonexecutive directors pulled the skin off a rice pudding, compared to the kings of management.

Even in those countries where there is a supervisory board structure, it's been fairly routine for scandal to break out; just look at the shenanigans on Volkswagen's aufsichtsrat. Part of the point of a supervisory board is to represent groups of people who wouldn't otherwise have a direct voice - trade unionists, suppliers, customers. This brings me to my next point.

Swapping out individual directors, or groups of 'em, for others doesn't have a great record either. We've tried replacing capitalists with civil servants, then replacing the civil servants with capitalists. Both versions were capable of spectacular mismanagement. Elsewhere in the world, there have been efforts to change the kind of people who are company directors; in South Africa, for example, there was a serious effort to replace old fat corrupt white bullies. The upshot has been their replacement with old fat corrupt black bullies. This is not a notable triumph.

The conclusion is surely that it's not that the boss is a man, it's that the boss is a boss. Rebecca Mark's division at Enron was a byword for fantastic hubris, backstabbing, corruption, and eventual failure. Padmasree Warrior was briefly a superstar as CTO of Motorola, but took some catastrophically dire decisions that have left the company staring at a dark future. Despite this, she got out in time and a cloud of money, and was even considered as the US Government's chief of IT. Both of these tales are all about authoritarianism, autocracy, and arrogance, to say nothing of greed; these are the failings of managerialism.

Daniel Davies holds that the Royal Bank of Scotland was the best-run bank in London, and that the acquisition of ABN-AMRO was the decisive blunder that sank it. He certainly has a point; the price was amazingly high, and it is said that 80 per cent of the shitty securities RBS is trying to get rid of came from ABN-AMRO's portfolios. This is interesting; it's impossible to be a really good bank without knowledge and competence being diffused through the whole organisation. If he's right, it wasn't Fred Goodwin that made it that way, but the efforts of loan officers, investment bankers, and branch clerks who knew their customers, back-office and IT staff who were efficient, traders who got in or out first.

But Goodwin's hunt for the white whale of global scale was his alone. It was his decision, his project, driven from the distant operations centre, peering down the drone video feeds. It required secrecy, hubris, and absolute obedience, the eternal friends of boss culture. And it would have been no different had he been Frederica Goodwin; she would still have been the Universal CEO, up there on the admiral's bridge, the one without all the telephones that run into the wheelhouse or the operations room, so as not to disturb the great one.


An Ilyushin-76T formerly with GST Aero has been destroyed in an accident at Entebbe, crashing into Lake Victoria bound for Mogadishu with supplies for the Burundian military. Burundian and Ugandan officers were on board. The aircraft, S9-SAB serial number 73410301, was owned by Aerolift, a company banned in the EU which officially ceased operations in 2005 but keeps turning up. We'd met this plane once before.

Its roster shows that it obtained aircraft from GST and also supplied them to it; interestingly, a whole string of planes reported here passed through its hands, including ST-WTB/1003499994, the Il-76 which crashed at Khartoum in August 2008, ex-Air Leone, East Line, and GST, UP-I7623/3344804, an ex-GST and ex-Air Leone Il-76 now with East Wing, and none other than An-12 9L-LEC/4341803, a friend since August 2004 which was used both by Viktor Bout and by the makers of a film about him, and which was also eventually wrecked at Entebbe. PPRuNe has more.

Relatedly, the PR war cranks up. Channel 4 has an interview with yer man; AP has a useful story on the superpower politics involved, even if I find it hard to credit that Bush would have raised the issue. Perhaps someone passed him a note.

talking nonsense about Facebook: nonsense squared!

Professional reactionaries, or put-on reactionaries, are as much of a characteristic feature of Internet culture as their polar opposite, professional neophiles and boosters.

I can't remember a moment in the last few years where there hasn't been someone making a good living by bemoaning the kids of today and their...enter in the public prints. Cass Sunstein, who thought the Web would lead to a catastrophically unbalanced culture so unlike the serious, cultured debate of the Washington Post opinion pages. (Later, of course, he amended this when those awful kids with their computers won the election.) Susan Greenfield, who explained how "the screen generation of the Internet" were rewiring their brains to be illiterate, apparently unaware that essentially everything on the Internet involves lots and lots of text.

It's worth pausing a moment to consider the structural factors here; nothing is more traditional than bemoaning our fallen times, which after all serves the twin purposes of appealing to the ego of everyone who remembers or thinks they remember the golden past, and also managing the expectations of the present. Nostalgia, and its flip, declinism, are political acts, and compulsory nostalgia is one of the worst things in Britain.

Now James Harkin believes that the Internet is a bit like suburbia, presumably because a hatred of suburbs is fashionable again. Here he is, claiming victory in the Guardian.

Basically, he's locked on to some data that shows that, despite the large friends lists Facebook users maintain, they only exchange messages with a few of them. By a soaring leap of assertion, he concludes that everything back to Milgram's small world theory is nonsense and that online communities are useless. Oddly enough, he doesn't suggest any answer for why so many people seem to like them if this is so.

There is a huge, huge cock-up here, though. Facebook (which I hold absolutely no brief for - a closed data-sink for advertisers and wankers, no more and no less) provides several different ways to communicate. "Messages" are only one - they are the equivalent of the private message function on most BBSs, which permits two participants to communicate one-to-one without showing the message to others. But Facebook is primarily a status updater - you set your current status message and others see it. This is a one-to-many, public communication system, and his terms exclude it entirely. Further, there is also the "wall" which lets you send messages to individuals which are also public.

Arguably, this sort of public, multicast or broadcast communication is much more, well, public - much more what he claims to want - than, say, telephony.

So the argument only works by excluding a huge amount of activity. Either Harkin doesn't know this, in which case he perhaps doesn't have any business writing about it, or else he does and he's hoping his readers don't, in which case he's being intellectually dishonest.

quack quack oops

The Guardian leaps in on the Nemesysco lie-detector crapware story, and misses; notably, they are apparently too chicken to point out that they are claiming to get 129 dimensions of data from only two actual measurements. This wouldn't even involve the Lacerda/Eriksson paper; it would just involve reading their published statements and the content of the patent they filed. There is, as usual, almost too much more at the Ministry.

Given that, it's no surprise they don't mention the fact that the licensee of Nemesysco's poxy "software" in the UK is none other than Capita, the IT-service firm known to millions as Crapita, whose CEO Rod Aldridge was elevated to the peerage after lending the Labour Party a ton of money. Further, the paper let a representative of Nemesysco/Digilog/whatever it's called this week get away with arguing that it's impossible to test the effectiveness of their product, which is such a classic quack's excuse it's almost an admission of guilt.


"Londonstani" has a superb post at Abu Muqawama about Ed Husain's The Islamist. Read the whole thing. Then look at the comments and cry.

Meanwhile, shouldn't this story be getting much more press?
Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service..


The CIA has already spent 18 months developing a network of agents in Britain to combat al-Qaeda, unprecedented in size within the borders of such a close ally, according to intelligence sources in both London and Washington.
An agent-running network? This is the sort of thing the Americans were constantly trying to put over on us in the 1950s and 60s and Sir Peter Wright, by his own account admittedly, spent a lot of time and effort kiboshing. It appears to be John Reid's fault, which is interesting but hardly surprising. It's much more surprising to find this in the Daily Telegraph, but there you go.

A pint of wanker goes to Patrick Mercer MP, who is quoted as basically saying he's cool with that and daddy knows best:
Patrick Mercer, chairman of the House of Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said: "The special relationship is a huge benefit to us. It clearly works to our advantage and helps keep the people of the UK and the US safe.

"There is no doubt that a great deal of valuable intelligence vital to British national security is procured by American agents from British sources."
World of Ken MacLeod Watch is obviously a feature we'll have to introduce here.

XV230 consequences

It took a while, but somebody finally acted on those 38-year old gaskets. The BBC is reporting that the RAF's Nimrod MR2 fleet has been grounded for the replacement of the engine bay hot air ducts, the famous pipe involved in the loss of XV230 over Afghanistan in September, 2006. According to my own sources, the original plan was to have them all examined and either replace, overhaul, or ignore depending on the results, but BAE as the Design Authority wasn't keen on this (who would be?) and therefore the ducts were all declared time-expired.

The upshot is that in order to maintain the RAF's maritime commitments in the North Atlantic (which seems to be what "critical homeland security tasks" are in Bob Ainsworth's statement), they have to find enough airframes to maintain the sub-spotting and SAR quick reaction alerts while the fleet goes through the engineering wing at RAF Waddington. This means that the Nimrod detachment in the Middle East is being withdrawn.

Its tasks included supporting the various naval operations in the area (pirate spotting, looking for a dhow with Osama Bin Laden on the bridge, and looking after oil platforms off Iraq) but also providing special reconnaissance capabilities for the Army in Afghanistan, both with the Searchwater 2000 radar and also providing a live video feed. Readers with a long memory will recall that XV230 was the first Nimrod to get the video capability under an Urgent Operational Requirement for Helmand in early 2006.

Apparently "other UK or coalition aircraft" will fill the gap. The whole affair originates from one of the great cockups of British defence procurement - the much-delayed, if formidable, MRA4 Nimrod, which has been in the works since the 1980s under various titles. (One of which was "Nimrod 2000"...) The decision to convert existing airframes rather than build new, in order to save money, turned out to be a very bad one, especially as the original airframes were essentially built by hand, with the result that the new CAD-CAM'd wings didn't fit any of the fuselages and the job ran several hundreds of millions over budget and many years behind schedule. The first flight has now been achieved, but part of the problem is that the planned fleet has shrunk dramatically, and the existing MR2s have been flogged to death waiting for the new airframes.

Rethinking ORGANISE

In the last couple of months, I've been increasingly fascinated by XMPP; I said this to a colleague of mine, who reacted roughly as if I'd informed him that I now perceived time as simultaneous. Hey, it's a tech company but not that techie. Specifically, however, I've become convinced that I was barking up the wrong tree with ORGANISE in thinking in terms of database-driven Web applications. For a start, I think these tend to guide the users into a read-heavy, discussion mode; inhaling huge threads, commenting, and then polling for answers. I want people to send things and take action.

And XMPP makes a lot of interesting things possible; it's real time, it's a push system, it's bandwidth efficient, and it has the idea of collection nodes - communities nested in each other - natively, as well as support for a wide range of useful stuff, like sending form options/user interface controls in messages, doing complicated subscription options, and even doing OAuth over XMPP. Transports - servers which bridge other messaging systems into the XMPP namespace - could help it interwork with pretty much anything else.

And as the messages consist of XML stanzas, there are interesting possibilities in what you could do with parsing and making other things talk to ORGANISE. You could even wrap an XHTML document in one and send structured data, rich media or even javascript app logic...if the client application could render it. Hmm.

So, basically, I've torn up the old spec and started afresh. There is a new document, version 0.5, and some changes to the design philosophy as well. And there's a new kid, too - Jörg Wenck of many comments at Fistful has joined up. I want your comments.

Monday, March 09, 2009

PFI does not mean "public flying initiative"

David Axe:
For instance, which of these is better:

* An air-superiority system comprising, say, 381 F-22s with 60-percent readiness, two pilots per plane, no electronic jamming and very aged tankers, or

* A system, costing roughly the same, but comprising 187 F-22s plus 200 brand-new F-15E+s, with a combined 75-percent readiness, three pilots per plane, a new jamming plane and the first installments on a robust fleet of new tankers?

He's got a good point. Of course, the sums for the UK don't work the same way - we are unlikely to be able to fill the front line with numbers of aircraft, so they better be good. But that suggests that the infrastructure is even more important. The Battle of Britain was won with infrastructure - training facilities, for pilots but also for technicians and engineers, airfields, radar, and most of all, command-and-control and logistics. This stuff may have been the first 90 per cent, or the last 10 per cent, but either way, it was vital.

Getting to the point, it's now 13 years since the original response to the MOD request-for-products for new tankers. Airbus offered either a new version of the A330 or else 25 tanker/transport conversions of A310s, on a timeline that would have had them all in service by now. The PFI scheme won't deliver the first A330MRTT, which isn't even one of the KC-45s that Boeing was willing to resort to such corruption to block, for several years even now. (The full spec KC-45 gets a cargo door and a lot of extra comms equipment.) Apparently there are efforts afoot to keep the VC-10s going even longer.

It's no wonder Sir Steven Robson was on the Royal Bank of Scotland's board; a more harmful public servant is hard to imagine. Having invented PFIs, he designed railway privatisation; then he subsided into the arms of the PPP Forum, a body half-funded by the Government and by the beneficiaries which aims to create as many PFIs as possible.

giant armoured bus considered harmful

But not to the right people. Via Jason Sigger's blog, the US Marines have second thoughts about all those new armoured wheeled vehicles they bought.

Demanding more vague armoured vehicles was an easy cross-party response to Iraq; it got around saying whether you actually opposed the war, or what strategy you favoured. If you were on the Left, you were opposing and also supporting the troops, and that was enough. If you were on the Right, you were fighting the terrorists, and that was enough - and the program cost an absolute fortune, money that spread itself all over the military-industrial complex.

While the vast contracts worked their way through the bureaucracy, the soldiers worked out their own solution.
It's like I started to say after my month in Ramadi in 2005: the best IED armor is a sniper team.
It further turns out that the Richard North-championed vehicles are essentially incapable of manoeuvring off the roads, and they are too big to be handy in the city, so the Bush era created an armoured vehicle for use in Iraq that was best suited to Richardson, Texas or Egham, Surrey.

Off road -- even on a dirt road -- you can move them maybe one or two miles per hour. Cross country they have zero ability.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

you've got to get out of the valley

This is sad: ITV kills the Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds. The wikipedia article should tell you why - the first studios in Europe designed for colour TV, the biggest working TV studio in Europe, and a lot of very impressive programmes. The history is interesting, too - the station set up in 1967 was a Wilsonian shotgun marriage between a rich TV-rentals enterpreneur (who had the money), and a ramshackle coalition of interests including Leeds University, various trades unions, and the Yorkshire Post, who had the ideas. Oh yes, and a lot of Leeds vs. Sheffield Yorkshire tribalism.

So, to Michael Lewis's article in Vanity Fair about Iceland and crazy financing. I didn't find it belittling to fishermen, which a number of stockbrokers I consulted did (I couldn't find any deep sea fishermen to ask); if anything I thought it was quite snarky with regard to Anglo-American finance.

It did, however, remind me quite a bit of growing up in the Dales; everyone knows each other, there's a liberating sense of not giving a shit, but everyone is always right, and the thing about men and women socialising on opposite sides of a pub is painfully familiar. And the cocktail of small pond syndrome and raging ambition. At school we had a saying: you've got to get out of the valley.

alternative Yorkshire

25 years; the strike was the first political event, indeed one of the first events, I actually remember. At least I remember power cuts and TV news broadcasts with the number of weeks the miners had been out counting up. After that, I recall Chernobyl - they set up a radiation monitor in the car park and my mother was interviewed on TV in front of it - and Gorbachev (we had a photo of him, complete with birthmark!), and then, it all starts rolling past.

Years later I actually met Scargill, at a conference of economics students; it was some testimony to his oratory that he was cheered to the echo by an audience that included about fifty per cent Young Conservatives. Perhaps it was the other fifty per cent. The organisers certainly aimed for stimulation - the other keynote speakers were John Redwood and Patrick Minford, of all people. Around the same time I met my first Scargill-hater, who actually was an ex-miner. History is like that.

Here is the man himself's version. I don't know the detailed history well enough to criticise it, although it strikes me that his idea of cutting off the coal supply to the steel industry, a sort of John Robb-ish cascade-failure attack, was based on a fundamentally false assumption. Namely, it assumed Thatcher cared what happened to the steelworks; as we now know, she was just as keen to screw them as she was the miners, and not much better with regard to the downstream steel-consuming industries either.

But one thing I don't think anyone has mentioned about this is that whatever had happened in 1984, there could only ever have been a stay of execution for ten years. In 1995, the starting gun for serious climate fear was fired when the IPCC scenarios crossed the 95% confidence interval into significance; and as James Hansen says, it's the coal. Essentially lumps of carbon, with some added toxic heavy metals for laughs, and there's so much of the stuff that we won't run out before we cook the planet.

Consider the alternate history for a moment; NACODS walk out as well, the government is forced to give in. Thatcher, of course, doesn't quit, but there is either a 1922 Committee coup or else she loses the 1987 election, or perhaps there is a repeat of 1974 - she calls an election for a mandate to take on the miners again, and loses. Neil Kinnock walks into Downing Street, either in a Labour government or a coalition with the Liberals and SDP.

Where do we go from here? The TUC-driven European turn in the Labour Party hasn't happened yet, but neither has the D-Mark shadowing and ERM fiasco. The Labour Party has taken a goodly dose of the new social movements, as in the original time-line, but the prestige of the NUM on the Left would be immense.

But whatever happens in the Kinnock-Steel government, at some point in 1995 the Chief Scientific Advisor walks into the Cabinet Room, and about ten minutes later, all hell breaks loose. After all, in this scenario we've been merrily burning much more coal than in the original timeline for the last ten years, and the coal lobby is the strength of the Left.

The political implications would be more than weird. The activist Left, all other things being equal, is heavily green-influenced, so it ends up against the miners. The mainstream Labour Party is wildly conflicted. And the rightwing science-dodger ecosystem has no choice but to support the miners; Anthony Browne and friends in Doncaster, probably with bags of Exxon-provided cash. Thrill as they try to tack between screwing the government and keeping their North Sea investments.

So the strike 2.0 happens in the late 90s/early 2000s, with mobile phones and the Internet on the protesters' side (flashmobs at Ferrybridge), tasers and pervasive CCTV on the police side, and all the party affiliations surreally flipped. God knows how that would have played out.

Someone ought to write the book.

One thing this brings up is just how necessary social democracy is; sometimes, it's not enough to be right, and huge impersonal forces are going to work their will, like the steadily rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And then, it's up to the society we create around ourselves whether the changes that will happen will be humane or brutal and tragic.

Blogging Rugby League: while you're playing it

Manly-Warringah RLFC's successful trip to the UK in the last few weeks, which saw them beat Leeds for the World Club Challenge, was assisted by an interesting piece of technology. All the players have been wearing networked GPS data loggers during the games, so Statto gets a live feed of data on precisely where they move, how fast, and what they're doing. And just how hard they go in; there's a three axis accelerometer in there too. It's the work of their conditioner Dean Robinson.

Aussie clubs have been very good with statistics for years; in the 1990s, the Brits were still very impressed with themselves for counting tackles while the Aussies were looking at how you could measure the energy battle and coach to tire the other side out. But this impresses even me.

Weirdly, in a sense their team is blogging all the time it's playing. Discussion ensues, over here. They used to say that you can smoke while playing a game but not while playing a sport, but then, the legendary French fullback Puig-Aubert used to bum fags off the fans and he was in the French World Cup winning side of 1951. It's probably true that you can blog while playing a game, etc, but as you can see, technological change is even getting rid of that distinction.

In a surveillance society, you can be a star blogger without even noticing.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I've put my mobile version of FixMyStreet for Symbian S60 devices up on SourceForge at You can check out the source code from SourceForge's subversion repository by doing "svn co fixmys60" or whatever your client likes.

The current version requires GPS to work and sends the reports to Matthew Somerville's test FMS server rather than the production one, for reasons that ought to be obvious. It's written in Python and is released under the Eclipse licence because I think the Nokia Python modules are. To do: get the thing signed and packaged as a SISX file so we can actually test it out. Further, I need to extend it to cope with no-GPS situations, probably using something like geonames to convert addresses/postcodes to OS references, those to get map tiles from TilMa, and then having the user correct them in an embedded browser.

thanks, ICO!

There's a weird 1970s-80s retro feel this week; the anniversary of the miners' strike, the renewed salience of some old ideas, and this story: it seems that a political blacklisting operation which kept files on trade unionists in the construction industry has been busted.

Rather like the old Economic League, which lasted from 1919 to 1993 before being shut down for violating the Data Protection Act, the "Consulting Association" was raided by the Office of the Information Commissioner, whose agents recovered a huge card index and invoices detailing a large number of customers. In fact, it turns out, it was all the work of a former League employee, as this informative article in the Guardian points out. From the Grauniad, here's the inverse blacklist, of companies who used Mr Kerr's services:
Amec Building Ltd

Amec Construction Ltd

Amec Facilities Ltd

Amec Industrial Division

Amec Process & Energy Ltd

Amey Construction Ex-member

B Sunley & Sons Ex-member

Balfour Beatty

Balfour Kilpatrick

Ballast (Wiltshire) plc Ex-member

Bam Construction (HBC Construction)

Bam Nuttall (Edmund Nuttall Ltd)

C B & I

Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd

Costain UK Ltd

Crown House Technologies

(Carillion/Tarmac Construction)

Diamond (M & E) Services

Dudley Bower & Co Ltd Ex-member

Emcor (Drake & Scull) Ex ref

Emcor Rail

G Wimpey Ltd Ex-member

Haden Young

Kier Ltd

John Mowlem Ltd Ex-member

Laing O'Rourke (Laing Ltd)

Lovell Construction (UK) Ltd Ex-member

Miller Construction Ltd Ex-member

Morgan Ashurst

Morgan Est

Morrison Construction Group Ex-member

NG Bailey

Shepherd Engineering Services Ltd

Sias Building Services

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Skanska (Kvaerner/Trafalgar

House plc)

SPIE (Matthew Hall) Ex-member

Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd Ex-member

Turriff Construction Ltd Ex-member

Tysons Contractors Ex-member

Walter Llewellyn & Sons Ltd Ex-member

Whessoe Oil & Gas Ltd

Willmott Dixon Ex-member

Vinci plc (Norwest Holst Group)
It would have been shorter to list the firms that didn't.

Well, great. I'm especially pleased that ICO actually did something; I'd long written it off as essentially a flexible friend, doing a lot of bemoaning the Surveillance Society but always giving in when the government wanted to do some more surveilling, and the only occasions when I actually reported someone to it hardly inspired confidence.

Obviously, of course, this is the clear moment to explain that all this stuff about civil liberties is nonsense. It would perhaps be better to point out that surveillance and data-hoarding by the private sector is every bit as troublesome as by the state.

Monday, March 02, 2009

but what do the poor do with their lives?

The times change; children don't respect their parents, and everyone's writing a book. However, the forces of interest don't change, and one place you find them pure is the defence procurement economy. Consider this story. The first thing you'll note is that it's kinda plausible, if you're the kind of person who reads this blog. Giving a contract for helicopters to Italy in return for their cooperation in beating up the Iraq story is the sort of thing George Bush would have done.

The second thing you'll note, I hope, is that it doesn't offer any actual link between the two facts. They are just placed close by. On the same basis we ought to be wondering why France invaded Iraq - they were offered a contract for jet tankers. But the new target audience are waiting for horrors about the Bush years, and there are plenty; this is how you convince without lying.

Drill into the text. There are fossils in there which tell us about the history of this stuff; the key to the past lies in the present, as Lyall said. We have the idea that the EH-101 is too heavy to take off - this is 2002-ish Europhobia. Note the implication of European unmanliness, lack of Hard, to say nothing of the raging projection. EH-101s, Merlins, fly daily with maximum loads in hot'n'high Afghanistan and off the decks of frigates in the winter North Atlantic; we even started a new Naval air squadron to go to Afghanistan. Then we have the appeal to uniforms; the pilots! None are quoted, but the Warrior Ethos is invoked. Beyond that, there are vague implications that Finmeccanica (or Westlands as some call it) does business with teh China. Unclean!

Beyond that, all we need to know is encapsulated by the demand that Obama give the job to "the proper supplier, Sikorsky". Ah, the proper supplier. Clearly, what we are dealing with here is vendor bullshit in a high form - carefully tailored to the concerns of the new government. When We are the masters now, you have to expect that they'll come up with a new set of lies.

It's also interesting that Italy is the happy hunting ground of War on Terror drivel, where anything is possible; first of all, the complaisant secret service that facilitated Ledeen's meetings, then the handy source of interesting documents, later still a provider of reliable carabinieri - they held the Nasiriyah bridges on the first night of the first Shia Rising, unlike all the other flexible friends - and a source of canny disinfo against the same people who are now being offered canny disinfo by the same people who handed out the last lot.

After all, why would SISMI care about a medium-sized light industrial plant in Yeovil? Nobody speaks for them.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Makhmut Gareev Blogging

I did a post for AFOE about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and their successful effort to support their allies there afterwards. With Ivan gone, a significant chunk of the mujahedin movement was willing to make terms with the government, and with significant economic and military aid, the government was able to deal with the rest, until the new Russian authorities cut off all assistance in 1992. (To the extent that the Afghan army had hundreds of tanks available to defend Kandahar but no diesel to drive them.) The piece was based on this US Army study (pdf) of the withdrawal.

I'm beginning to think this may be an idea with legs. Here's "Newshog" Cernig on the Taliban's internal divisions; here is news of much high-level negotiating between the US and the Afghan government. Here, it seems the Afghan government is looking at setting up a security force for the crucial roads based on "important people" in each province - this is precisely what the Afghan Communists and Soviets did in 1988 in preparation for the withdrawal.

Further, there is a push on for more funding for local development projects, which sounds like a potential way of getting people on board, and the idea of a ring road strategy is being floated. And the advisory/training mission is being doubled.

Now bring on the all party talks. Najibullah got 12-15 Il-76 loads a day plus 600 trucks a week and about $4bn a year, money of the day, in 1989-1992; going by the Viktorfeed stats, the private sector is already doing the air equivalent of that from the UAE, just you don't know what they are shipping. Talk to Iran, now, as someone once said. And if anyone knows where Makhmut Gareev, who headed the post-withdrawal advisory mission is, you could try talking to him.


There is a Russian IT company that tends to rent huge stands at tech conferences and have a squad of practically naked girls gyrate on them; I mean, booth babes are one thing, but they are going further. The result is a constant line of the ill-bred standing in front of their stand, ogling. Anyway, on the Wednesday of MWC I happened to walk out of an aisle behind the stand, with the result that I appeared from behind some SIM-verification company's placards, facing the line of oglers. It was a depressing sight - what struck me was that they didn't even appear to feel anything as humane as lust, which implies more participation. Sex with the sex taken out is a highly sinister concept; Orwell made good use of this in 1984.

(Actually, the dancing was sort of North Korean Mass Games, come to think of it.)


I've been interviewed by The Pakistan Spectator.

down at Abu Asterisk's mobile phone shop again

Mumbai privilege-escalation attack news. Dawn reports that a Pakistani colonel has been identified in the evidence the Indians have presented - one R. Salahuddin from the "Special Communications Group" (Via Tom "Rickay!" Ricks). However, the evidence of his involvement is an e-mail with that address in the Reply-To field. If you can spoof voice CLI, you can certainly spoof e-mail Reply-To fields, as these are unverified and passed in cleartext. I'm increasingly concerned that spammers nearly started a nuclear war.

Also, if some sort of electronic warfare/cyber-war IT shop in the Pakistani military were involved, this raises some interesting questions - the Schwerpunkt of the operation was the fake phone call to Mr 10%. As Winston Churchill says somewhere in an apologia about the Dardanelles, the main theatre and the decisive theatre of war are not necessarily the same, and it is a serious mistake to imagine that the mass of forces in the main theatre makes it the decisive one. So the actual target of the operation was the president of Pakistan, although the eventual intended target was India. Liddell Hart would have been delighted.

However, it's very likely indeed that the e-mail in question is a fake. Further, I would think it as good as certain that the group involved were known to the ISI - they always are - but then, that doesn't imply that the ISI controlled them. The relationship between the manipulator and the manipulated, the insurgent and the counterinsurgent, is always ambiguous, and the ISI is nothing if not expert at tacking on the winds of ambiguity.

This feeds into another question about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reader "Ajay", who ought to have his own blog, has been asking on other blogs about the make-up of the Pakistani not-the-Taliban - how do they break down into local/tribal militia, international jihadis, and whatnot. If the locals predominate, of course, Pakistan is more stable than you might think - they aren't interested in the cities and the heartland. But there is a worrying number of attacks in the heartland.

I suspect the most extreme groups are probably also the ones closest to the secret state. After all, they have little to no popular support, which is handy for the ISI as it limits the degree to which they can spread, and they are willing to do crazy things. Yet again, the Kashmir issue is the big ignored motivator - the Palestine of South Asia. Perhaps the real story of the Mumbai attack is that one of the ISI's pet, hyper-extreme outfits were able to find the support the spooks would deny them by moving their base onto the Internet?

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