Monday, December 22, 2014

Anonymous and Sony

Okay, this isn't exactly a Times article.  I don't trust even the major newspapers or media outlets, so trusting this outlet to be accurate is a stretch.  Still, pretty cool.

But why would anonymous do this?  What does it accomplish?  Nothing much, except, hopefully, the release of what looks like a pretty funny movie.

I'm glad to know that anonymous, at least some of them, and I agree, it wasn't North Korea behind this hack.

The Freedom of Information act does not give the public the right to the work product of corporations, the act gives individuals the right to view government records which are not confidential.  The act is specifically a U.S. thing, Sony is a Japanese company.

Not sure discussing the Freedom of Information act makes a lot of sense.  I'm also sure anonymous knows that 100K for a 43M dollar movie is chump change.

Sony should have dumped "The Interview" to PirateBay back around December 4th or 5th when they understood this mess was real.  No one would have believed Sony corporate had done it.  Now, if the movie hits bittorrent everyone knows it will have happened because Sony corporate made it happen.

Anonymous isn't exactly an advocate of Free Speech, they tend to quash the speech of those they disagree with.  In some cases, such as child pornography, I agree with them.  In other cases, I disagree.

I don't have much use for totalitarian groups of any kind.  I believe in minimal restrictions on freedom, however, I believe that some freedoms, such the the freedom to exploit children in sex for profit ventures, the freedom to enslave people, the freedom to force a person to do anything, need to be restricted.

I can argue against homosexuality from, probably, around 40 different view points.  The only viewpoint I can argue for homosexuality is that people have the right to do whatever they want with other consenting adults.  I don't believe I have the right to forbid anyone from doing anything with other people as long as no one is hurt.  So, as a Christian, while I think of homosexuality as a sin, and I can argue against it in many different ways, I also believe that people have the God given right to choose their own lives.  The only people who get into heaven are sinners.  Since no one is perfect, everyone ends up at the end times with unrepentant sin.  Those who have a personal relationship with Christ enter.  Those who don't will choose a different path, no matter how "holy" or "religious" they were believed to be on Earth.

Were I the kind of person who believed that what I believe is right and people who do not agree with me are wrong, I would want homosexuality outlawed since I believe it is "wrong".  Here is the problem with that for me, God created choice so if I make "bad" choices punishable I am placing myself in God's judgment seat.  I set myself up as equal in ability to judge with God.

That isn't a popular belief set, but, it is mine.

I do believe in taking action against those who are interfering with the rights of others to choose.  For example, Westboro Baptists are welcome to sit in their church and spew their garbage to each other.  They have the right to publish their sh*t to the web.  They have the right to protest.  They don't have the right to disrupt funerals and cause emotional damage to others, in my opinion.

I thought the actions of people who stood in front of the WBC protesters was great.  Even though I agree with anonymous about the WBC, I didn't think and don't think that attacking the free use of the Internet and disrupting the WBC's freedom of speech was a good idea.

No matter how much I hate a particular ideology, I have no right to stop someone from spewing it, unless, as in the case of a funeral, it causes deliberate emotional or physical damage.

That's my basic ideology though, what about anonymous.  Truthfully, I think anonymous uses a similar ideology, except, they have no problem attacking the things they hate, regardless of anyone's right to freedom of speech or net neutrality or Internet Freedom.  In addition, the individual members often jump to conclusions and strike without really understanding what it is they are doing.

That is not always a bad thing.  It is often better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.  Still, anonymous, in many ways, becomes the very thing they hate when they suppress the net freedoms and the individual and collective freedom of speech.  Anonymous becomes the jack booted, totalitarian thug that they hate.

Is it possible to protest against a system willing to kill people without becoming that jack booted thug?  Truthfully, I doubt it.  There will be collateral damage in any war.  Soldiers will kill the wrong people.  Some will commit terrible crimes.  It becomes impossible to police every individual soldier in any war.  Anonymous is engaged in a war and they will screw up, they will commit war crimes.

Does that make them evil?  No more than it makes anyone else evil.  No one is perfect.  No one agrees with everyone about everything.  No one disagrees with everyone about everything.

So why the Sony thing?  What does it accomplish?

Truthfully, I'm not sure I care.  I hope anonymous manages to get the movie released so I can watch it on the big screen.  If not, I hope it is available on bittorrent so I can see it on my flat screen.

And I hope the GOP releases everything they have on Sony to Wikileaks.  That is where that information belongs anyway.  Maybe anonymous can hack GOP and make that happen.  Now, that would be cool :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hackers, Sony and North Korea

I don't think North Korea had anything to do with the hack on Sony.  But so what.  Now that the President has identified North Korea as the source, The U.S. President being the leader of the Enforcement Branch of government and therefore the "top cop" and responsible for all federal law enforcement agencies (except of course when he pretends he isn't), we should just destroy North Korea.

I mean destroy.  I would literally level the crappy little rice paddy republic.  Scorched earth policy.  If China complains ask them if they want a nuclear war.  China will try and negotiate because China does not want a nuclear war.  The Chinese are all about "face saving" and that means having a world in which face can be saved.

Yeah, I'm not feeling very well today.  I have a cold and a "nuke em all" attitude.

Obama isn't going to do anything.  China kicked our assess in Vietnam and will kick our ass again if we go into North Korea.  The United States doesn't have the balls to deal with a long term war and China does.

I still think the attack on Sony was done specifically for financial reasons, manipulation of stock prices, and I believe the operation failed.

Still, this hack could have some serious unintended consequences.  Obama won't do anything, but, this mess is going to percolate over the next few years and when a new President comes in, circa 2017, that president might feel that they must act against North Korea.

By 2017 the U.S. government won't be able to keep interest rates and the deficit low by purchasing bonds.  Social Security will be spending more than they take in and the IOUs the government wrote itself will be due.  That will really screw up the budget. Might be the time for a war.

Annonymous censoring free speech once again

This one is ridiculous.  I read this story from my facebook newsfeed.  It sounds pretty ridiculous and I hope it isn't true.  I'll write as if it is though....

Some screwy pop star made some comments about protesters, I guess, and anonymous decides they have to censor the popstar because......they hate the concept of free speech?

When will people understand that free speech means people are going to say things that someone disagrees with?

No one agrees with anyone about everything they believe.  No one disagrees with anyone about everything they believe.

Hate groups like anonymous, and they have now become a hate group as far as I am concerned, who go around damaging people who disagree with their political or social views are no better than Sadam Hussein, Adolph Hitler, Edgar J. Hoover, or Joseph Stalin, who destroyed their political competition.

The desire to do something can be overwhelming and leads many people down the wrong path.  Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi took a route of passive resistance, as have others.  Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't.

Oppose Wall Street didn't do any good, in fact, during the Oppose Wall Street protests the Obama administration pushed through "The Affordable Health Care Plan" which forces U.S. citizens to purchase health care insurance from Wall Street financial services corporations.  Back in June of 2012 I created a fake portfolio on Google financial.  I "bought" 100 shares of stock in ten different Wall Street financial services corporations that specialized in selling health insurance.

Name Symbol Last price Change Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain % Day's gain Overall Return
Aetna Inc AET 90.84 0.71 100 2951 9084 6133 207.83 71 207.83
AFLAC Incorporated AFL 61.18 0.86 100 4238 6118 1880 44.36 86 44.36
Assurant, Inc. AIZ 68.65 0.94 100 3034 6865 3831 126.27 94 126.27
American National Insurance Company ANAT 115 -0.12 100 7440 11500 4060 54.57 -12 54.57
CIGNA Corporation CI 104.53 -0.05 100 1789 10453 8664 484.29 -5 484.29
Humana Inc HUM 146.47 -2.6 100 3737 14647 10910 291.95 -260 291.95
Principal Financial Group Inc PFG 52.71 0.45 100 2370 5271 2901 122.41 45 122.41
Security National Financial Corp SNFCA 5.94 1.1 134.01 153 796.02 643.02 420.27 147.41 420.27
UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH 102.49 0.25 100 2769 10249 7480 270.13 25 270.13
Anthem Inc ANTM 127.95 0.24 100 4395 12795 8400 191.13 24 191.13


Look at those overall return rates!  Obama set his buddies on Wall Street up in style.

As I wrote in my last couple of blogs, Sony is still closer to its 52 week high than its 52 week low after the Sony hack.

Anonymous thinks trashing some stupid pop star, or me, or someone else who disagrees with their politics is going to change the world.  Not a chance.  Wall Street is still making money hand over fist, governments are still tossing journalists like Barrett Brown in prison, nothing real is changing.

Wall Street and governments are multi-headed hydras,  Destroy a bureaucrat and two more take its place.  Destroy a Wall Street bank and two more take its place.

The problem is systemic and all anonymous does is attack specific individuals.  Assange does more by making the systemic issues more transparent, but, most people haven't a clue what to do.  How can the hydra be destroyed?

The truth is, the hydra is the people.  Billions of individuals.  To change the way the world works people have to decide they are unhappy with what is going on and demand changes.  Like the Hippies of the 1960's did?  Yeah, Vietnam turned into drones, Guantanamo Bay and HVT programs combining military intelligence and the CIA.  Hover would be proud.

When Kennedy was killed in 1963, that specific act probably changed history.  Kennedy was against investing in another Korean War and probably would not have escalated in Vietnam the way Johnson did.  In addition, Kennedy probably would have been able to win the 1964 elections without signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.... Would he have?

Truthfully, there are very few instances in which the destruction of a single person, regardless of who that person is, will make a difference.

Wikileaks had a real influence, minimal as it was, is probably still influencing news and politics, but, like the 1960s radicals, that influence is temporary and just encourages a change in the way the game is played.  I admire Assange because he stood up for what he believed in.  He has been persecuted and will continue to be both revered and persecuted because he stood up.

People say, "information is power".  Baloney (sic).  Perception is power.  If people perceive that an individual or a group has power, that person or group has power.

People are primates, and just as primates break down into a dominance hierarchy people will always break down into dominance hierarchies.  Anonymous will never have any real power because they are anonymous.  Imagine a Gorilla in a forest being challenged as leader by a ghost.  What would happen?  Would the ghost become a leader?  Of course not, the leader may be perceived of as vulnerable and another dominant Gorilla could challenge that leader, but, regardless, the social dominance hierarchy would remain.  Period.

Assange has some power, although he has been effectively minimized by accusations, just as Cosby was and just as other individuals have been.  All anonymous can really do is "virtual assassination", making a leader vulnerable to another leader.

So what?

There are a million more Cosby's, or pop stars, or politicians, and the biological urge in humans to develop social dominance hierarchies remains.  If the world was destroyed over the next six months by a plague of super rabies, I can guarantee two things will still be around.  The biological urge for humans to have sex and the biological urge to develop dominance hierarchies.

And the people choose the leaders they want.  Even Stalin was allowed to lead by the people, as brutal as he was.  Johnson was encouraged, even, to escalate in Vietnam by people. 

If anonymous has their way, and they manage to stomp out free speech by destroying everyone who disagrees with anything they believe, another group just like them who behave the same way they do will go after whoever.

Anonymous isn't going to succeed in eliminating free speech any more than the 1960's radicals succeeded in keeping the United States out of republic creating wars with minor nations.  Sure, some minor changes will occur, but, the systemic nature of the biological urge to develop social dominance hierarchies will remain and the "rebels" will be assimilated, absorbed into society.

In the end, the leaders have to take people where the people want to go, or the people will rebel.  Anonymous could virtually assassinate every leader they disagree with and have Julian Assange elected to the U.S. presidency and things still wouldn't change.

For change to occur, the people have to change.  Neither Assange or anonymous is doing anything that will encourage change in the people.

In the movie"Inception" Leonardo DeCaprio's character makes a statement, "Positive emotion trumps negative emotion".  All anonymous and Assange are doing is pushing negative emotion.  "Don't!"  There is no leadership there, no direction to go in, no democracy, no civil rights.

Only totalitarianism can exist in a "Don't" society.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Freedom of Speech, Sony Hackers and Scumbags

Recently some hackers, probably North Korean Government people say, hacked Sony in response to the release of a movie called "The Interview",

No one believes the hackers were independent because, really, who supports a broke ass nation like North Korea with such a fantasy based concept of itself.

I wonder, did North Korea really do this though, or are they just a scape goat?  If I have to guess, I would say they are a scape goat.  Someone deliberately hacked Sony to drive the stock down and it didn't work very well.  Stock is still in the upper range of the last 52 weeks.  The question is, is this going to work?  If I was a betting guy, I would bet that the hackers had options to sell around 20 and that they expected the stock to drop near 52 week lows, maybe more.  Sony stock has dropped less than $2 a share on the NYSE since December 1st.  $2 in twelve days.

I think Sony is working pretty hard behind the scenes paying people off, buying stock at near their 52 week highs and they are gonna crash in the not so distant future.  Sony is global, head over to a finance website and check Sony, they have about thirty stock releases all over the globe, and some of those are closing up.  In fact, some are still pushing the high limit.  Can Sony keep from crashing?

Anyone willing to bet that this hack was timed with a 52 week global high by coincidence?

Personally, I figure the North Korea shit, is just shit.  I figure this is a team of hackers some stock market guy put together, partially on spec, that just isn't paying off yet.  Will it?

This is actually the first really complex, multi-billion dollar potential hack I have seen ever and this really rocks.  This is the kind of stuff hacking should be about.  Screw the scum bag corporate overlords, use the bottom feeders in the "freedom of speech" media to do it, and take home a shitlload of money.  Blame a country no one gives a shit about and that is constantly rattling a vindictive saber.  It is beautiful.

Bad company choice though.  Sony is pretty much a dog.  Not a lot of downward potential.  Maximum drop over a week is only about $2.70.  With a December 1st release of data, December 12th should have been down about $5.20, max.  Instead, we see a drop of about $2, which is within about a 70% probability. 

If the hack was done to manipulate the stock price, it doesn't seem to be working.

Is it going to work?  Short sales on Dec. 1st failed.  Puts on Dec 12th probably failed.  So how could this hack make cash?

Options would be the way to go, the right to buy or sell a stock at a particular price.  Put options give a person the right to sell shares of stock at a price.  Calls give people the right to buy at a particular price.

December 12th calls to sell at 19 were running about $0.35 a share back on October 30th.  If someone had decided that Sony were going to make some money they could have made about $1 per share.  Contracts usually run 5,000 shares so $5,000.00 per contract.

But, did hackers bet the stock would go up?  No, they bet the stock would go down.  A $20 put was running a little cheaper, but, the stock closed at $20.33 so the Dec 12 $20 put options expired out of the money.

If Sony had been below about $19.50 a share on the 12th those Dec 12 puts would have made some cash.  If the stock had dropped to near 52 week lows, the Dec 12 puts would have made like $5 a share.  If the guys sold $19 calls, expecting the stock to be below $19.....yeah, you get the idea.  Even having inside information isn't exactly a sure thing.

hmmmm, not good for the hackers, if they are in the market, so far.  If they planned longer term, they might make out like bandits.  The problem is, the markets can be manipulated and that option money has to come from somewhere.  Who writes options?  Good question, and if you know who is writing the options then you know who you are working against when it comes to the stock price.  Do these people selling the options have enough resources to buy against a drop and maintain the price?

In this case, I think they did.  Who owns the big chunks of Sony?  Who is writing the options?  Who is trying to maintain their investment?  Money comes down to people and knowing the people behind the stock price is a big deal.  This is the difference between fundamentals and technicals.  Analysis using fundamentals means knowing the people.  Analysis using technicals means knowing what happens when bad information about a company is released.

The guys at Sony play hard ball, but, put options that expire in January are probably going make money because the stock probably cannot stay elevated that long.  If the hackers bet further out, they are probably going to take home a chunk of change.  If they figured this fight was quick, and didn't bet longer term, they probably expired out of the money already.  From the 10% drop on Friday, I think the spending to prop the stock has expired, people took their profits and, totally guessing, I figure Sony hits mid January near 52 week lows.

If these guys planned it right, releasing near the 52week high the way they did, bet on a January, or even February, price low point, maybe they made a buck.  It will be interesting to seek how Wall Street handles a hack like this.

Will Sony stock price drop low enough to make the hack worth it?

So far, this has just been an embarrassment.  Lets see how the stock prices close mid January, 2015.  I'm betting down, but, not with my own money.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

"Mock Spanish" and Cultural Purity

I've been reading some papers written by a linguist, Dr. Jane Hill.

Dr. Hill's theory is that any use of Spanish by an Anglo constitutes Racism.

I thought a lot about it, at first I was offended because I use Spanish occasionally, although I can't ever remember using Spanish with an Anglo as a joke of any kind.  When I lived in El Paso sometimes we were shot at just for being White and being in the barrio.  If my use of Spanish back then had been considered racist at all, there was a good chance of my being beaten or even killed, depending on who I was hanging out with.  And yes, I occasionally hung out with guys they call cholos, or "gangstas" in the modern parlance.  It was business.

I typically made more money with Blacks and Hispanics than I made with White friends.  I won't get into this because this isn't true confessions, but, when people make money in a particular way they are going to associate with a particular type of people.  Any perceived racism, at all, will destroy the relationships at the very least, and can result in death.

So was I upset because I am not fluent in Spanish, still use Spanish occasionally and very poorly?  I don't think so.  I'm pretty good at recognizing and learning from my mistakes, although, I don't always agree with others about what my mistakes are.

For example, people tell me that it is a mistake to say that I can argue against homosexuality from fifty different ways because stupid people will automatically assume I am homophobic when I make this statement.  My reply is almost always that I really don't give a shit what stupid people think.  I will defend my right to free speech and the fact that I can argue against any issue I have an opinion on because I actually research issues before I develop opinions and have even changed my opinion based on new facts.  My opinions are based on the very fact that I can argue against them.

Stupid people not withstanding, why did Dr. Hill's research on "Mock Spanish" annoy me?

Then it hit me, the research presented an absolutist social viewpoint and in my experience absolutism, especially in social issues, was always incorrect.  If I drill down far enough there is always a range.

CPU makers developed equipment that could make the traces on chips one electron wide, the thought being that all electrons are the same size.  They discovered that these "one electron wide" traces occasionally became blocked by electrons that seemed to be to wide to get through them.  The chip makers increased the size of the traces to slightly more than "one electron width" and they worked.  To me this meant that electrons came in a range of sizes, from wide to narrow and that we couldn't measure the size accurate enough to understand the distribution.

Distribution, the normal range from one least likely to another least likely.  A normal range defined by a modality and a mean and a median.  A range, not an absolute, a range of behavior.

Ahhh, I thought.  That was it.

Then I thought for some more.  Here was a paper assigned in a 300 level university class and I didn't agree with it.  Fine.  As I thought about it I realized that social absolutes were typically racist.  White people cannot say "nigger".  This is a racist social absolute based on the experience Black people have with the word and the way it has been used for around 400 years.

What was racist about this paper?  Any use of Spanish is racist so how could the paper be racist?

The it hit me, the paper was advocating the linguistic purity of English using a form of reverse psychology.  "We can't adopt Spanish phrases into English because then we are being racist against Spanish speakers".

Not only was the paper wrong because it presented an absolutist social viewpoint, it was wrong, in my opinion, because the paper advocated Anglo cultural purity by insisting that the normal cultural exchange and the adoption of Spanish culture was racist.

I am not an advocate of racial or cultural purity and because I am not, I found Dr. Hill's papers offensive in the covert advocation of cultural purity.

That is not going to go over well with my professor, or a lot of other people including people at the University and elsewhere.  There is a religious reverence for accepted academic theories and the professors who originate them.  Geocentricism, originally advocated by Aristotle and Archimedes and opposed by Aristarchus, became an academic truth of such veracity that when Copernicus and Galileo challenged that theory they were ostracized by academia, which at that time was centered around the Catholic Church.

I find it mildly amusing that academicians often ridicule the religious faith displayed by believers when they also display a form of religious faith in their academic beliefs.

Be that as it may, I had my answer.  I was offended by the absolutist proposition that cultural exchange is "racist" and therefore cultures must remain distinct and segregated, which is a form of racism.

Unpopular, probably as much as my insistence on being well informed enough to argue against a position that some believe should be so inviolate that no contrary argument should ever be advanced.  Yet, I insist on studying what other people take for granted and sometimes, as in this situation, I reject the popular opinion and stand upon my own two feet.

There are undoubtedly forms of cultural exchange that are racist, the belief that one culture is better or worse than another, there are also cultural exchanges which occur naturally as two or more cultures interact over time that are not racist and do not specify one culture as being better than another.

I am not and will not become a racial or cultural purist.  I reject any advocacy of cultural purism, including absolutist arguments that any cultural exchange is a form of racism.