Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Pondering”

When will this mess from the pandemic be over? Focus on the idea that it will end, not what that date will be.

We will prevail. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

When will we be done with this stay-at-home restriction?

When will the economy recover?

When will we be back to “normal?”

 

I don’t know the dates for any of those transitions.

I have a suggestion for you.

 

Don’t set a specific date in your mind. Instead firmly set in your mind that this mess will end, we will get through it, we will survive, and we will thrive at the end.

What is the danger of setting a date in your mind and having faith it will be over on that date?

Let me introduce you to the Stockdale paradox.

Admiral James Stockdale was an American pilot shot down during the Vietnam war. He was a prisoner in North Vietnam for 7 1/2 years, routinely subject to brutal torture, legs broken twice during interrogation, and held in solitary confinement during four of those years with his legs locked in a metal stock each night. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor a few years after his release.

I think we should listen to him. His physical courage and moral courage are a role model for all of us.

For one explanation of the phenomenon he described check out article titled The Stockdale Paradox.

 

Who did not come home from captivity?

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Didn’t ever expect I’d personally experience Soviet Union and Venezuelan style grocery stores.

Chaika 3 (on redscale film) – Queue by Jaroslav A. Polak is in the public domain (CC0 1.0). Lines like this outside a grocery store were normative in the Soviet Union (except for the cell phone, obviously).

In the Soviet Union and Venezuela, grocery shopping involved/involves listening for rumors of which store got a shipment overnight, standing in line for hours, looking at lots of empty shelves, and going to the store daily to see if what you need might actually be on the shelf today.

If you have been awake the last seven days, you know that is what grocery shopping looks like in the U.S. today.

The difference between the Evil Empire and the worker’s paradise of Venezuela on one hand and the United States on the other hand is that the supply chain in the U.S. is still stocking the shelves and in a week or two or three will have them filled up.

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Where are they now? Players in Silk Road, the on-line bazaar for drugs, explosives, and body parts.

Mr. Ulbricht’s housing area for either the rest of his life or until the Feds decide to move  him to another facility for the rest of his life:  Federal Correctional Complex Tucson FCI Tucson Arizona Overhead View by Prison Insight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Time for a follow-up on the status and jail location of the major players in the Silk Road, dark web fiasco. If you need lots and lots of background, check out this tag.

Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator service, some online searching, and previous reporting provides this info:

 

Ross William Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts”, “DPR” – Silk Road mastermind – age 35.

Register number 18870-111.

Serving Life Sentence. (In the federal system, I think “life” means life.)

In 12/18 he was confined at Florence (Colorado) – High security U.S. Penitentiary, that is the ‘super-max’. On 9/2/19 he is confined at Tucson U.S. Penitentiary, a high security prison.

Update 11/21/19– Still at Tucson USP and still showing Life as release date.

 

Roger Thomas Clark – a/k/a “Variety Jones”, allegedly Mr. Ulbricht’s deputy – age 57

Register number 85816-054.

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Memorial Day: gratitude for those who did not return

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

 

To family and friends of those who did not return, I humbly say:

My deepest condolences on your loss.

From someone who appreciates the price paid for the freedom I cherish everyday, please accept my thank you on behalf of your loved one who paid the price that my family and I can live free.

“Thank you” is so little, but it is all I have to give you.

 

 

“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God” Tomb of Unknown Soldier 002 – Arlington National Cemetery – 2012 by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. Photo by James Ulvog.

Other players in the Silk Road drug sales website face justice

Three more perps in the Silk Road website stood in front of the above and were awarded their well deserved earnings. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Several other players in the Silk Road gun/explosive/drug/body part bazaar have worked their way through the U.S. justice system.

Some info on their involvement and current status follows after mentioning Mr. Ulbricht’s final appeal was denied.

Ross Ulbrickt

As an aside, the Cyberscoop article below points to the following:

6/28/18 – Reason – Sadly, Ross Ulbrickt’s Case Will Not Be Heard by the Supreme Court – His appeal was denied by the Supreme Court on 6/28/18. That is his last opportunity for an appeal.

Article raises the troublesome procedural question that the sentencing judge used allegations that were not proved in court to reach his decision. Specifically, the judge used allegations of the murder-for-hire schemes which were discussed but on which Mr. Ulbrickt was not convicted, according to his attorney’s comments in the appeal.

Apparently there were some warrant-less searches at issue, which the USSC did not take up.

Andrew Michael Jones, Gary Davis, Peter Phillip Nash

7/13/18 – Cyberscoop – Alleged Silk Road employee extradited from Ireland to U.S. – Gary Davis, allegedly a/k/a Libertas, is accused of being a high level administrator in Silk Road. Article links to previously sealed indictment which accused Andrew Michael Jones, a/k/a “Inigo”, Gary Davis, a/k/a “Libertas” and Peter Phillip Nash, allegedly who had four aliases. (Inigo? Seriously? What is the deal with all the slander of the all-time classic comedy Princess Bride?)

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Additional follow-up on former Secret Service agent’s theft from Silk Road dark web site

Primary mode of transportation to be used by major players in Silk Road drug bazaar for many years to come. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

While looking at the sentencing of former Secret Service agent Shaun W. Bridges I learned a few more details of what he was up to while looting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoins.  His sentencing is one of the loose ends on my posts about the Silk Road dark web site where you could buy any drugs, body parts, contract hits, weapons, explosives, or fake identification that your heart desired.

Some tidbits from a few articles on his antics:

12/7/15 – SFGate – Ex-Secret Service agent gets prison in S.F.-based Silk Road case – Good summary of first case.  Sentenced 12/5/15 to 71 months, which is one month less than 6 years. Carl Force was sentenced on 10/19/15 to 6 1/2 years.

2/3/16 – Motherboard – Great Moments in Shaun Bridges, a Corrupt Silk Road Investigator – Article was written shortly after his re-arrest.

This guy had quite a career. Seriously. He was a successful hostage negotiator before joining Secret Service. He was on the Obama presidential protection detail and was a cyber currency expert while at the USSS.

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More sentencing details on Silk Road dark web site – part 1

View of Mr. Bridges neighborhood for seven years. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

One more loose end on my reporting of the drug/body parts/contract hit/weapons/fake ID/explosives dark web site Silk Road:  sentencing for Shaun W. Bridges.

Update: After getting ready for followup to this post, I realized those are actually separate discussions. Thus, there will be no ‘part 2’ for this post.

He is the former Secret Service agent who, while assigned to the inter-agency task force investigating Silk Road, stole a large amount of bitcoins. He was sentenced to prison for 71 months.

The day before he was scheduled to report to prison he was trying to get out of the U.S. but was arrested for another theft of Bitcoins. He pled guilty and was sentenced to another 24 months, which the judge ordered to run consecutively.

He was also ordered to surrender 1,500 bitcoins, which were worth approximately $10.4 million at the time of his sentencing.

This post will discuss his sentencing. Next post will give some more background on his escapades which paid him a well-earned seven years in free federal housing.

I’ve previously walked through this exercise for Scott London and Keith Graves.

Release dates and actual time in prison

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Silk Road perps. The last one has been extradicted and is awaiting trial.

Expected long-term housing arrangements for ‘Variety Jones.’ Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

There are only a few loose ends on the massive on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road. Actually, you could buy weapons, human organs, explosives, and even a contract killing on the site along with any amount of any dope you have ever heard of.

Most of the players are in federal prison on long-term sentences.

Last time I checked, the remaining on-the-loose player was “Variety Jones.” He is now in custody, awaiting trial.

Read more…

Ethical failures by NCAA and UNC Chapel Hill. Illustration of the phrase ‘auditing with your eyes closed.’

UNC Chapel Hill – “Midnight Old Well” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As mentioned in previous post, articles keep popping up on the systemic academic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill. Trying to hold my posts to under a thousand words each means there need to be multiple updates.

  • Reporter says the UNC scheme was widely  known
  • UNC grad, class of ’92, explains the reason UNC claimed as legitimate classes they previously confessed were fraudulent. Also says this fiasco shows him the UNC leadership chose money over honor.

10/13/17 – Duke Basketball Report at SB Nation – A Pitiful Victory – Article goes over a long list of warning signs of systemic cheating and fraud at UNC. After most of the points, the writer makes some comment along the lines of they knew, or we knew, meaning there was common knowledge of cheating.

Apparently there was a massive scandal at UNC back in the ‘60s and the school made a strong commitment to play clean. Article shows that commitment to integrity only lasted until somewhere around 1990.

Author says the rest of the ACC, and maybe everyone in college sports, should be upset with the lying and cheating. I agree. The NCAA isn’t able to find anything in the rule book to say academic and athletic fraud is actually punishable. (Next article says they removed from their rulebook the rule that said academic fraud is punishable.)

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More on the UNC fiasco and the FBI’s recruiting investigation

bell tower” by zach_mullen is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I was planning to wait a while before talking some more about the UNC academic/athletic fiasco and the NCAA’s toothlessness, but articles just keep popping up that grab my attention:

  • UNC gave opposite stories to its accrediting agency and the NCAA
  • One of the head coaches implicated in the major FBI investigation was fired

10/20/17 – The News & Observer – How UNC changed its story-and lost its voice in college sports – Apparently UNC had a reputation of ethical behavior in its athletic programs before the current systemic academic & athletic fraud developed.  That reputation is now gone.

The current administration addressed the academic fraud with the accrediting agency and accepted responsibility. An internal investigation concluded the purpose of the fake courses was to keep athletes academically eligible for participation. The University drew a one year academic probation.

Article provides quotes saying that the University accepted responsibility, identified the courses as wrongdoing, admitting the courses were frauds, acknowledging the scheme was running for a long time, and agreed that more than two people were involved.

And then came the NCAA investigation…

Read more…

The last pieces of democracy slip away in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has made its choice. Will that choice stand? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The elections in Venezuela were stacked.

Oh, by the way, what economic system produced this human suffering? What political system produced this all-but-in-name dictatorship?

  • Hints of the fraud before the election.
  • In spite of polling and expectations, a mere 5 opposition candidates won a governorship.
  • Oh, the few in the opposition who won are denied their position; initial reports said that government hacks were sworn into office instead.
  • Four of the five opposition governors actually sworn in.

10/15/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Latest Election Fraud – More details on how the election results were cooked. Reporter describes more details on manipulation.

Read more…

Why is it necessary to have a nuclear defense?

After reading my post on Nuclear launch protocol and timing, you may be wondering why the United States built these,

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

and why we built 550, 450, and 50 of these,

Minuteman II, Minuteman III, Peacekeaper ICBMs on display at Warren AFB. “Ywwrn_1b” by gvgoebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

as well as why we had 1,000 of these spread across the country for several decades:

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Venezuela continues to collapse

Oil platform in Venezuela. A view of what used to be and could have been now. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The bad news from Venezuela just doesn’t stop:

  • Protests have stopped because of lost hope
  • Professionals become prostitutes just to get enough food to keep the family life
  • Elections for state governors finally to be held on Sunday
  • Former executive of Brazilian construction company admits to paying $35 million to Venezuelan president’s election campaign
  • Guess on inflation rate for 2018 is over 2,300%

8/31/17 – Wall Street Journal – “Hope Is Gone” as Venezuelan Protesters Vanish From Streets – The protests have faded away. The ongoing massive arrests, torture of detainees, widespread human-rights abuses, and frequent shootings seem to have broken the protest movement. A number of senior leaders of the opposition have fled the country in fear for their life. Reports indicate 125 people have been killed and somewhere around 2000 have been wounded, with many of those people with permanent injuries.

One outside observer, who is safe because he is an American living in the United States, observers the president has gained effective control of the entire government. I think if we look at the typical definitions that makes him a dictator.

In the meantime the oppressed people of the country continue to scramble for food, trying to find enough so they don’t starve to death.

9/22/17 – Miami Herald – In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes. – A large portion of the prostitutes in Columbia are women who escaped Venezuela. Before transitioning to the world’s oldest profession, many of them were teachers, doctors, professional women. One brothel even has a petroleum engineer.

Read more…

UNC Chapel Hill evades any sanctions from NCAA for academic and athletic fraud scheme that ran for 18 years.

UNC Chapel Hill bell tower. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The NCAA announced it will not impose sanctions on UNC Chapel Hill men’s and women’s basketball program for a systemic academic fraud that offered about 200 different “paper courses” over a two decade timeframe.

The NCAA acknowledges that from 1989 through 2011 around 6,000 students were in those courses. The NCAA acknowledges for these courses minimal attendance was required, faculty helped with papers, and the grading was quite loose.  An internal investigation found 3,100 students took a paper course during a specific 9 year timeframe, with somewhere around half of those enrolled being student athletes.

The reason UNC walks?

Non-athletes participated in the paper courses.

Since the known and admitted fraudulent courses weren’t used to benefit only athletes, the NCAA concluded the scheme does not violate their rules.

Seriously.

Read more…

More news on SpaceX

Echostar 105/SES-11 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

One article pondering how the planned super-heavy lift rocket from SpaceX will open up space travel like the DC-3 did for air travel. The third reuse of a Falcon 9 booster and the 18th recovery of a booster.  Also, three articles on SpaceX’s plans for Mars colonization:

In a major speech, Mr. Musk revealed the revised plans for SpaceX’s journey to Mars. The revision I see is a slightly scaled-down interplanetary spacecraft which can be multipurposed for lunar activity, resupplying ISS, or any other mission requiring heavy lift.

The vehicle will have 31 engines instead of the 47 planned a year ago. It will still lift 150 tons into low earth orbit.

Key concepts will be reusability of lift vehicles and in-orbit refueling to get vehicles ready for the interplanetary trip. Concept will be capsules can land vertically and will be able to take off without crew input.

Interplanetary capsule will be designed to have 100 person capacity and will have areas on board for entertainment.

The first trips to Mars could be in 2022 or more likely delayed until 2024. That is only 5 or 7 years from now.

Outlines of the Mars colonization plan are in line with what I’ve read before.

Read more…

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