Words on Words: Vaclav Havel

Editorial: One of the names I considered for this blog was ‘wordswords(com)’ – which could be read as both ‘word swords’ and ‘words words’ (it wasn’t available and I am ultimately glad). As the below 1989 speech by Vaclav Havel shows, words can be dangerous, and they can also be redeeming. We need to be careful about the words we believe, and the words we use. We need to be careful how they can be used or changed in ways they are not intended to. I have always felt I have been very careful about how I choose words – despite my sometimes dyslexic tendencies towards syntax and grammar. That said, I am somewhat like a bull in a Chinese propaganda shop so we’ll see how that turns out. 

The following speech is one of the best ‘sermons’ I have ever read and is filled with many relevant quotes for our age (some of the best I’ll highlight to ease visual scanning). I generally like to use my exclusively own opinion to avoid bias, but to be honest I have come to so many of the same conclusions independently of Havel from a moralistic standpoint (if not a historical one — since I am not fully educated on all of the matters of history which he references) that I have few if any reservations about putting his opinion forth as representative of my own. (This appeared originally in the NY Review of Books.)

Československo / Praha – Pankrác / věznice: Václav Havel 1979

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Today’s Google Doodle: Sergei Eisenstein

Today’s Google Doodle is about the 120th Birthday of Sergei Eisenstein.

(c) Google

Sergei Eisenstein was an early-Soviet propagandist who is perhaps best noted for his trilogy of films: “The Strike“, “The Battleship Potemkin“, and “October” (“Ten Days that Shook the World“) about the 1917 Russian October Revolution. Eisenstein is a notable character for the n01r blog since he was set to direct an anti-fascist version of “The War of the Worlds” in the early 1930’s before he left the US to complete the pro-Communist propaganda film “Que Viva Mexico“. He was a strong career influence on both Francis Ford Coppola and Orson Welles.

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The new Newsweek’s first cover story in March 2014: Bitcoin

With all the talk about Korean market forces being a driving force behind the bitcoin, it is worth revisiting the origins of modern Newsweek. It is a potential conspiracy that interests me a lot. Is it interesting that when Newsweek returned to print in March 2014, that the first cover story was about bitcoin, then trading close to $500?

At the time, at least one Reddit user joked (?) this meant that David Jang (‘David’ Jang Jae-Hyung), a long-controversial “Christian” figure connected to the ownership of the ‘new’ Newsweek was actually bitcoin mastermind Satoshi Nakamoto.

March 2014 is obviously an important milestone in ‘Hybrid Warfare History’, and I have already connected bitcoin to Russian propaganda/intelligence. It bears worth asking if we can ‘mine’ for a connection.

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I guess Julian Assange can speak Spanish

Julian Assange has been granted Ecuadorean citizenship. I’ve often wondered if Julian Assange was the secret author of the 2001-era Sir Cam worm. Known as ‘the worm that spreads secrets‘ it came out in June 2001 and targeted the Government of Ukraine and the FBI. At the time, Assange was a pioneer in computer worms, and suspected in involvement in the 1989 WANK worm that attacked NASA’s Galileo mission. By 2001, Assange had already started WikiLeaks like platforms (leaks.org).

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Bitcoin is Video Game Money

One of the reasons I don’t invest time in money-generating side quests in video games is that the money isn’t real. Who cares if you have a million Gil, GP, ‘gold’, etc. but you drive a Hyundai Accent in real life?  (No offense intended —  I am so cheap I used to drive one by choice.) In one way, this is how the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies look to me.

Their hyper valuations seem to be based on nothing more than the collective imagination of a bunch of game players hunched in front of their computer screens, having traded World of Warcraft quests for hashing programs. In addition, cryptocurrencies are mined using graphics cards, and this is quite literally where they become “video game money”.

Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for the Super Nintendo (1994) represents the era of the ‘baseball card bubble’ and is a useful ‘metaphor’ for the case for cryptocurrencies as ‘video game money’.

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A Political Model of Conspiracy Theory Serving a ‘Russian Perspective’

Here’s a little model I whipped up based on my recent findings on post-9/11 conspiracism. I would encourage you to read Ilya Yablokov’s paper: Conspiracy Theories as a Russian Public Diplomacy Tool: The Case of Russia Today (RT) for a greater understanding of how conspiracy theory can be used as an information weapon. Remember, some conspiracy theories ARE state-created.

This model isn’t implying all conspiracies are wrong, bad, or ‘delusional’. Some are real. Certainly, I think being opposed to white power movements is net a ‘good’ thing. But I am asserting that those kinds of beliefs in opposition to populist anti-minority conspiracism may form the basis for mutual counter conspiracism and social conflict/discord which can be cultivated in Russia’s political interest (for example, what happened in Charlottesville).

Also, I propose that the basis for conspiracism seems to be opposition to something which is different or perceived as hostile to the group who theorizes a conspiracy exists. Thus, conspiracy theories may be almost defined by what they are against (‘anti-everything’) — rather than being ‘for’ anything.

Download it as a PDF hereModel of Russian Conspiracism

The Bitcoin-Russian Information Warfare Nexus

Frequently, consumers of Russian disinformation who are Libertarian seem fixated on the idea of gold and bitcoin as replacement for the US dollar as a global reserve currency. Ron Paul has specifically called out bitcoin as a great way to “destroy the dollar”. This has been a stated objective of Vladimir Putin since at least 2009. In this vein, the well-known ‘gray-market internet entrepreneur’ (and criminal) Kim Dotcom is an interesting case study which shows the nexus between internet-based Libertarian voices hyping bitcoin and Russian information warfare / disinformation. It would seem to be a reciprocally cooperative agreement. Continue reading “The Bitcoin-Russian Information Warfare Nexus”

Conjuring is Conspiracy (Theory)

James Randi in Moscow

When dealing with folks who describe themselves as magicians, you’ll often find that they describe themselves as “conjurers” as well. In the collective imagination, the word conjuring evokes spells, incantations, and the summoning of spirits.

Interestingly, the origin of the word conjure actually comes from the Latin coniurare or conjūrāre, which means the act of forming conspiracy.

Dictionary.com word origin: C13: from Old French conjurer to plot, from Latin conjūrāre to swear together, form a conspiracy, from jūrāre to swear

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Princes of Darkness: The Tale of Dracula and Ivan the Terrible

One of Russia’s first “belletristic texts” (and potentially its first novel) was The Tale of Dracula. This book had a tremendous impact on the leadership of Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV); who cultivated a Russian national mythology which still persists. In understanding Russian revanchist strategy, this is important.

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