The mailman knows

When I read Dr. Noam Chomsky’s works on media, including, of course, Manufacturing Consent, I was blown away. Frankly, the notion that media could “… carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion” turned my world upside down.

In reality it took me a long time to accept, even partially, Dr. Chomsky’s ideas on media. After all, the idea of conspiracies is a painted by the media as being a little silly and the idea of silent, implied, and organic conspiracies is painted as being … well… loony.

Today, however, I embrace Dr. Chomsky’s ideas, and, in fact, I believe more in ad-hoc micro-observations than I believe in the aggregated macro-views that I am offered through the media.

2162692293_4d669030f1_oFor instance, in determining the level of unemployment or underemployment in the United States, I routinely dismiss the neatly packaged statistics from ADP and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor in favor of my local postal carrier and the local barista who — in spite of being paid near starvation-level salaries and not having access to millions of dollars worth of computer equipment — have very good ideas of the level and trend of unemployment in my neighborhood.

Before, I go any further, I hasten to say that I don’t fault the good people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which I know for a fact are doing a bang-up job given the many constraints that they are under… ADP is, of course, another matter. And, I also hasten to say that in many cases the macro-views are quite consistent with the micro-observations.

So my answer to any question about unemployment numbers — and a range of other issues — is generally to say that the mailman knows (or, the mailman knoweth, when I want to try to give the saying a touch of patina.)

Anyway… getting to the point.

Yesterday the Washington Post ran an article by Mr. Craig Whitlock and Mr. Barton Gellman (here,) discussing how Al-Qaeda’s leadership is seeking to negate the United States’ drone program using almost any means.

The article, which relies on classified papers stolen by Edward Snowden, is, of course, very good (it is the Washington Post, for Chrissake,) and contains many nuggets, including these:

“U.S. intelligence analysts noted in their assessments that information about drone operational systems is available in the public realm. But The Post is withholding some detailed portions of the classified material that could shed light on specific weaknesses of certain aircraft…

Al-Qaeda leaders have become increasingly open about their ­anti-drone efforts. In March, a new English-language online jihadist magazine called Azan published a story titled “The Drone Chain.” The article derided drone armaments as “evil missiles designed by the devils of the world” but reassured readers that jihadists had been working on “various technologies” to hack, manipulate and destroy unmanned aircraft.

At the same time, the magazine indicated that those efforts needed a boost, and it issued an emergency plea for scientific help: “Any opinions, thoughts, ideas and practical implementations to defeat this drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible because these would aid greatly . . . against the crusader-zionist enemy.””

That al-Qaeda and other similar organizations would be using publicly available information, including information on the world wide web, to seek out information about how to wage war is not news for me and knowing that it is the case does not require Washington Post’s considerable resources — or access to classified papers stolen by an overpaid, high school dropout who should not even have been given access to NSA’s cafeteria. For, as I say, the mailman knows.

A while ago I wrote a posting about the volatility of FORTY, the NASDAQ and TASE traded equity of Formula Systems. To explain the rather ridiculous impact of the volatility I pointed out that the economic impact of the sale or acquisition of a very limited number of FORTY shares, worth approximately $18,500, was of a magnitude that would enable one to buy an M1 Abrams, a third-generation main battle tank and the mainstay of the United States armored forces.

The posting (here) was, of course, of interest only to people interested in either trading, investment, economics, or Formula Systems — most of whom would, I think, be located in North America, Israel (Formula Systems is head-quartered in Israel,) or Europe. So imagine my surprise when my posting, having the the somewhat obscure title “Liquidity — Would you like to buy an M1 Abrams tank for $18,500?”, started getting hits from Pakistan. Moreover, imagine my surprise when this posting, which is now seven months, or so, old — a lifetime in the blogosphere — continues to attract page-views from Pakistan.

Clearly, someone in Pakistan has more than a passing interest in M1 Abrams tanks. Today, for instances, the posting was hit with by way of two searches from Pakistan (both for the term “m1 abrams,”) generating four page views.

Likewise, in January of 2013, I had written a posting (here,) referencing Reuters’ excellent series of exposés of the questionable behavior of Chesapeake Energy Corp, its Board of Directors, and Mr. Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy Corp’s Chief Executive Officer, which surprisingly, attracted hits from Pakistan.

I attempt to not be a xenophobe, but, frankly, I had a hard time believing that there would be a substantial number of individuals in Pakistan that would be interested in the shenanigans of Mr. McClendon, so, naturally, I had to investigate.

It showed that the page views were generated courtesy of Google searches for the term “AKM operations.”


As you will learn if you read my posting (again, it is here,) AKM Operations was a six person company-within-the-company that Mr. McClendon saw fit to to set up at Chesapeake Energy Corp, handling, among other things, Mr. McClendon’s personal use of accounting services and corporate jets as well as other personal interests.

Doesn’t sound like tribal warfare, Taliban, and al-Qaeda stuff? Well, consider this: AKM is also short for Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy, an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950ies and, I am sure, quite prolific in the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, where, generally, the Taliban and al-Qaeda tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how to kill Americans.

So, yes, the mailman knows. In fact, he knew before the Washington Post’s intrepid reporters knew.

I will, of course, tag this posting with the terms “AKM Operations” and “M1 Abrams,” so I fully expect to get more micro-observations confirming that, yes, there are bad people in Pakistan reading publicly available information on the world wide web.

Moreover, I intend to tag the posting with the terms “tribal warfare,” “Taliban,” and “al-Qaeda,” but I do not expect to get any micro-observations confirming that the good people at NSA (whether overpaid high-school dropouts contracted out by Booz Allen Hamilton or actual loyal government employees) are doing their job.

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