This Day in History 1861: Confederacy Starts War With United States to Force an Expansion of Slavery

A nicely written summary of the attack on Fort Sumter can be found on the Smithsonian’s page called “The Civil War Begins

In December 1860, a little more than a month after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina’s secession convention, held in Charleston, called on the South to join “a great Slaveholding Confederacy, stretching its arms over a territory larger than any power in Europe possesses.” […] According to historian Douglas R. Egerton, author of Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War, “To win over the yeoman farmers—who would wind up doing nearly all the fighting—the Fire-eaters relentlessly played on race, warning them that, unless they supported secession, within ten years or less their children would be the slaves of Negroes.” […] Militiamen itching for a fight flooded into Charleston from the surrounding countryside. There would soon be more than 3,000 of them facing Fort Sumter, commanded by the preening and punctilious Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who had resigned his position as West Point’s superintendent to offer his services to the Confederacy.

This explanation of the war-mongering blood-thirsty slaveholders contrasts heavily with the description of calm and professional soldiers finding themselves surrounded by hostile enemies of America.

With communications from his superiors reaching him only sporadically, Anderson was entrusted with heavy responsibilities. Although Kentucky born and bred, his loyalty to the Union was unshakeable. In the months to come, his second-in-command, Capt. Abner Doubleday—a New York abolitionist, and the man who was long credited, incorrectly, with inventing baseball—would express frustration at Anderson’s “inaction.” “I have no doubt he thought he was rendering a real service to the country,” Doubleday later wrote. “He knew the first shot fired by us would light the flames of a civil war that would convulse the world, and tried to put off the evil day as long as possible. Yet a better analysis of the situation might have taught him that the contest had already commenced and could no longer be avoided.” But Anderson was a good choice for the role that befell him. “He was both a seasoned soldier and a diplomat,” says Hatcher. “He would do just about anything he could to avoid war. He showed tremendous restraint.”

After some negotiation and brinkmanship, the Confederates fail patience and begin the Civil War with America.

In the early hours of April 12, approximately nine hours after the Confederates had first asked Anderson to evacuate Fort Sumter, the envoys were again rowed [by their slaves] out to the garrison. They made an offer: if Anderson would state when he and his men intended to quit the fort, the Confederates would hold their fire. Anderson called a council of his officers: How long could they hold out? Five days at most, he was told, which meant three days with virtually no food. Although the men had managed to mount about 45 cannon, in addition to the original 15, not all of those could be trained on Confederate positions. Even so, every man at the table voted to reject immediate surrender to the Confederates.

The pride of these Americans surrounded and heavily outnumbered and outgunned, refusing to surrender, enraged the Confederates who responded by announcing they soon would begin war. Aiming for the American flag they managed to knock it down only to find it would be raised again, as the Americans defended their country valiantly for days.

LinkedIn is Deleting All My Comments and Posts About Virginia Police

One of my most popular posts on LinkedIn was about the logical fallacies, as well as some history, of Virginia Police. LinkedIn gave me an award for it…

Then they deleted the post, as well as all my comments on other posts about the Virginia Police. I had at least a dozen comments on this thread, for example.

All of my words gone without any notice or explanation.

My first sign someone was censoring me was traffic drop across posts, any post really. Flow suddenly went from thousands to just a few.

On a normal day I will see a post hit a couple thousand views. Suddenly, my posts had 10 views, or 7 views.

It’s a sure sign LinkedIn has a human poking around in your profile and editing your timeline, deleting your posts, when traffic drops dramatically without any reason or notice. 7 views? I knew something was wrong.

My second sign was that I was given an award by LinkedIn and when I went to look at the post they awarded it was… deleted.

How nice of LinkedIn to notify me to go take a look at my post that nobody can look at because they erased it, while giving me a medal for the thing they destroyed.

I wasn’t saying anything shocking, mind you, just pointing out the basic logical fallacies.

Here’s some more background on the story itself:

And now here was my LinkedIn post in its entirety:

  • Police can’t both say the windows were too dark and their target was evading them by pulling into a well lit stop. That’s double-talk.
  • Police can’t both say their use of violence was justified by hesitation of their target, and also tell their target to be afraid to exit the vehicle. That’s double-talk.
  • “Ride the lightning” is not just capitol punishment by electrocution, it’s a reference from 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson allegedly described the KKK as lightning. There were more lynchings in 1915 than the prior decade.

That’s it. And LinkedIn deleted that.

The police in this “traffic stop” clearly were speaking the language and using the basic procedures of a lynching.

No matter what their target said or did, he was judged wrong by them in order to intentionally escalate the situation into killing him.

The fact he survived is perhaps due to his professional military training that kept him calm and compliant in very logical fashion. It was clear to me (and others) he kept his hands out of the window even when he was told to reach inside and unbuckle, because to reach inside to the hip could mean he would be shot instantly on suspicion of having a weapon.

I’m not saying service members should get special treatment from law enforcement but usually there is a level of mutual respect and that clearly wasn’t the case here. I saw a soldier who despite being pepper sprayed had the sense of awareness to keep his hands up despite everything else. He didn’t want to reach down for anything.

Usually we have to assume it is only the police who are being trained and paid to know how to deescalate a situation. Here you can see how the police flagrantly escalate instead, violating simple principles. It is clear the target of police was in fact the one acting far more professionally (also having been trained and paid to remain calm and deescalate).

Also I have to point out that a LinkedIn profile, which claims to be a US Army veteran from Colorado Springs (I’ll hide his identity here), was quickly spreading comments everywhere to discredit the victim of Virginia police.

The themes of this profile all were classic KKK talking points.

First, he used the false argument George Floyd committed suicide. The absurd theory is that police didn’t kill Floyd, he is the one who put himself into a situation that killed himself from police negligence. It’s clearly false but the KKK will try to argue black people are somehow not healthy enough to survive police abuse.

Second, he used the false argument that lawsuits are lucrative and bring payouts, thus black men are getting themselves lynched because they are greedy. Again it’s clearly false but the KKK will try to jump from saying black people won a case of injustice to therefore police and taxpayers are being harmed by having to pay damages when black people die.

Again these first two are the classic talking points of the KKK. They are parroting a simple fraud that blacks deserve to die at the hands of police officers no matter what because of being black, while substituting some other word and state of being for the word black.

Third, this US Army veteran kept saying that there was scant evidence and too little information to rush to judgment on the police actions yet he firmly believed the target of police was fully in the wrong and needed to be immediately kicked out of the military. He even slipped as used the phrase “hang the case” in his comments.

All of these fraudulent talking points historically are used in the language of a lynching, which is why the police saying “ride the lightning” is particularly important reference.

Nothing about this “traffic stop” justified such gross excessive violence, and to even trained law enforcement it comes across as bizarrely unnecessary and strange escalation.

We have to shift frame to history, especially history of Virginia, and think instead of an attempted lynching. Then all of the steps fit right into place.

In fact, to be accurate, more black people are killed by police than were lynched during Jim Crow. Police in America kill on average 3 citizens every day.

Even this official statement fits into place:

The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department.

This town says it prides itself in respect of its Police Department? That’s their big public reaction? Wait, there’s more.

The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department. Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light.

They are sad that their community is cast in a negative light.

Let’s review. An American is pepper-sprayed and beaten at gunpoint for committing no crimes other than a Jim Crow-era dog whistle crime of needing to show police “respect”. Then the town reacts to video saying yeah we are proud of people who respect the police. And they’re sad that people see attempting lynchings in a “negative light”. Think of the positives!

This was an attempted lynching and it was very clear police were escalating violence to force a black man show them “respect” or be killed by the “lightning”.

I mean a town that publishes an official “prides itself” and “respect of police” letter in reaction to an attempting lynching, really doesn’t bode well for any kind of meaningful justice or reform.

Or maybe we can put this another way, once again using their own words and actions as evidence?

In 2002 the Town of Windsor created a new emblem for its centennial. In the 100 years since 1902, this town decided to highlight… wait for it…

The centennial emblem, which was designed in 2002 for the centennial by the then town manager Kurt Falkenstein represents 100 years of Windsor History. […] Men of Windsor Station answered their call to serve the Confederacy, and the Isle of Wight Rifle Grays (symbolized by the crossed rifles) were drilling and registered in 1860. This unit, under command of Captain Watkins, served with Company D 16th Virginia Regiment. The 16th Regiment served in many major battles and was with General Lee at the surrender at Appomattox.

That’s right! To commemorate the time since 1902 the town of Windsor in 2002 added a pair of guns from the 1860 pro-slavery forces to their official emblem.

Windsor town seal in 2002 added a pair of 1860 Confederate pro-slavery guns to its official seal as a “commemoration” for 1902. Figure that one out.

Maybe in 2022 we can look forward to the Town of Windsor adding another pair of guns to their emblem to celebrate the positive aspects of an attempted lynching? I mean they definitely didn’t think it would cast a negative light to have guns from 1860. We know it won’t show up on LinkedIn though.

American Pedestrians Killed Disproportionately by Race

A while ago I wrote about jaywalk laws being racist by design.

Also it’s well-known that white nationalist groups try to promote the idea that killing people with cars has a higher chance of avoiding conviction (not to mention “kill bill” laws around America that criminalize pedestrians and allow drivers to hit them without consequence).

Tweets since 2016 have literally said “run them over you won’t be convicted” (murder blacks) as a response to people being in the streets to protest deaths of blacks.

New data from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association in their preliminary 2020 report shows that black pedestrians in America are indeed being killed by cars at very alarming rates compared with whites.

Source: GHSA 2020 Pedestrian Fatalities Preliminary Report

This data brings to mind Henry Wallace (Roosevelt’s Vice President from 1941 to 1945) who wrote a powerful letter in April 1944:

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.

It’s Time To Get History Accurate About Power in Silicon Valley

In a new article called “It’s Time To Get Real About Power in Silicon Valley“, I noticed much of the history is very wrong.

For example, this is false history:

Travis Kalanick who saw taxicab drivers not as solid middle class citizens, like many of us mistakenly did, but as a cabal of overpaid, rent-seeking obstacles.

Kalanick himself said he was standing in line in Las Vegas and wondering why he didn’t have an inexpensive driver that would shuttle him from his cheap hotel so he could drink excessively on the strip and at parties he was crashing. His whole fratbro vision was how to recreate his mom driving him everywhere forever. None of that had anything to do with taxis really, which he didn’t think about or understand at all except to complain about waiting for them and compare it to his bowel movements.

And this is false history too:

…skinny nerdy guy who just wanted to sell us books over the computer…

That is not how to describe Bezos who himself said he wanted to corner book markets using unregulated tech because he was losing in a competition with Bernie Madoff to be the worst human.

But perhaps worst of all, the article willingly weaves an Emerson quote into a profile without any context. Thiel quotes Emerson deliberately and for a reason, not as some random thing.

Emerson is well known among white nationalists as their guy. You want to get real about Thiel, admit his thirst for power ties directly to history of white nationalist aspirations.

These men are privileged white men who enter tech to maintain and expand their privilege. This has nothing to do with Silicon Valley (Bezos isn’t even in Califorina, duh) and everything to do with history of colonization.

I like this 2017 article much better:

The men of Silicon Valley like to pose as more empathetic, philosophical and righteous than their brothers on Wall Street. But society will no doubt look back on the ascendancy of fratbro tech and see the same arrogance, perversion and disregard for human life.

And here’s another good one:

Is there a difference in suicides and workers conditions at Foxconn and Uber drivers complaining they can’t make a living wage? It’s hard to argue on a human level.

Once we get the history right, such as Stanford’s legacy being genocide, stories like this one become easy to predict:

Verkada isn’t the only Silicon Valley startup in which employees — often young, single and flush with cash — have engaged in questionable behavior, including sexual misconduct and substance abuse. But Verkada sells security cameras that peer into offices, factory floors, intensive care units and other sensitive areas — the kind of product that demands professionalism and discretion.

Based in San Mateo, Verkada was founded in 2016 by three computer science graduates from Stanford University…

Homeland isn’t an American Word

The British Government has announced their Home Office will have a Director General for Homeland Security. Some in the UK reacted by saying it sounds American.

Nice try.

I thought everyone knows that America most definitely gets most of its English terminology for security from… wait for it… England.

I mean who has a Home Department, or a Home Secretary for the Home Office? Not America.

The VOA explained this exact problem years ago

Historically, the Old English word hamland meant “enclosed pasture” — a protected field for animals. The word homeland first appeared in Modern English in the 1660s. It combined the nouns “home” and “land.”​

But a deeper look at how the word homeland was used outside of the U.S. shows why some people are not comfortable with it. The government of South Africa used the word homeland for areas it created for only African peoples during the period of apartheid. These “homelands” separated the Africans from white citizens.​

Friederike Eigler is a professor of German at Georgetown University. She said that in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people used a similar word to homeland – heimat – to express intense national pride.

“It became more and more a political term because it was sort of meshed up with ideas of the nation and nationalism. And then that kind of came to a head during World War II. It became very much tied up very much with notions of the German race, and the nation, nationality or national socialism, and so in that sense it got very discredited as a result in the postwar period.”

In the early 2000s, when the U.S. government created the Department of Homeland Security, some objected to the name. Peggy Noonan writes for the Wall Street Journal. She thought the Bush administration should change the name. She said homeland “isn’t really an American word.”​

James A. Bartlett blogs for The Ethical Spectacle. He thinks the problem is that the word homeland has to do with the idea of being a native. He quotes the second Merriam Webster definition of homeland: “a state or area set aside to be a state for a people of a particular national, cultural, or racial origin.”

Mr. Bartlett believes the word homeland does not describe the United States well. The U.S. is a diverse country of immigrants. Are those immigrants also able to call the U.S. their homeland?​

Speaking of people being confused about where words come from, machines are also pretty terrible at this.

A simple query for the word “homeland” using Google’s algorithm on British government archives brings up this hilarious example: “Home Secretary” [many paragraphs later] “Auckland”

Source: Google query of Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates

Google Maps Has Invented Bicycling

I never understood why Google maps didn’t give elevation data (topographical) and level of effort required for a route. Used to be a thing I tweeted about from time to time.

It’s literally the thing every hiker or biker knows to look for when they look at a map.

San Francisco, for example, would have routes from Google that went straight up or down 18% grade hills because direct, yet that’s not at all how anyone really wants to walk, bike or even drive.

Fast forward to 2021 and Google has announced… “eco-friendly routes“.

In typical Google tone-deaf fashion this is entirely backwards. These are not eco-friendly routes, these are routes. They are the norm for anyone who has ever pushed a pedal or taken a step. I’d even say they are the norm for anyone who actually looks at their fuel consumption or brake pads as line items.

Google should instead make them the default and then put a “crow flies” or even a “high cost” moniker on routes that are more straight-line yet far more inefficient.

Zoom is Doom: Total System Compromise

For months I’ve been warning people that using a Zoom client means a system should be treated as completely compromised.

My position has been clear, as I’ve written multiple times on this blog. Now this:

…they were able to take over the remote system running the Zoom client without any involvement from the victim; the exploit didn’t require the victim to click any links or open any attachments…

I can not emphasize enough just how broken the security culture of Zoom was that after harsh criticism of security they brought in the infamously disgraced CSO (biggest undisclosed breaches in history) to handle PR.

KGB Spy in 1961 Used X-Ray to Crack U.S. Top-Secret Lock

In 1961 the U.S. had a top spy in Moscow delivering extensive details of the Soviet nuclear program:

In tandem with the CIA, MI6 were in the midst of running their most successful espionage operation to date. A colonel in Soviet military intelligence, Oleg Penkovsky, was working for them as an agent-in-place, photographing thousands of top-secret documents with a miniature camera, and delivering the resulting microfilm in disguised packs of cigarettes and boxes of sweets to Chisholm’s wife Janet, at cocktail parties, parks and other locations around the city.

Some describe these massive disclosures from deep within the Soviet military (by a man who turned on his country after being denied a promotion) as a primary explanation for averting disaster in the Cuban missile crisis:

The CIA’s chief analyst during the crisis, Ray Cline, later told historian Christopher Andrew that Penkovsky’s intelligence was vital to its resolution, as it allowed the agency to “follow the progress of Soviet missile emplacement in Cuba by the hour.”

Just as the crisis ended on October 22, 1961 Penkovsky was arrested by the KGB.

The next chapter to this story isn’t what you might think.

It actually becomes how the Soviets at that time had established a top spy in Paris, who was delivering extensive details of the U.S. nuclear program in Europe. In October 1961, as Penkovsky was shut down, the Soviets pushed an American mole for deeper access.

In late 1961 [Robert Lee Johnson] received the top-secret clearance and was admitted into the vault as a clerk. At long last the KGB was in. […] Over the following weeks the infiltration began in earnest as he successfully copied the vault keys using clay molds supplied by KGB operatives. In October of 1961 he received a specially manufactured X-ray device from Moscow that he was instructed to place over the final lock in the vault; KGB technicians could then deduce what combination unlocked the vault by studying the cogs inside the locking mechanism.

This spy was from within the U.S. military; “an embittered bureaucrat with a grossly inflated sense of self-worth”, and like Penkovsky a man who turned on his country after being denied a promotion (not to mention being named after a traitor in the military who defected and fought to destroy the U.S. — Robert Lee).

On 15 December 1962, Johnson accessed the vault for the first time and looted its contents. The operation, extensively rehearsed beforehand, went exactly as planned and by 03:15 the following morning some of America’s most sensitive cryptographic and military information⁠—some of it classified higher than top secret⁠—was on its way to Moscow. The treasure trove of information proved so valuable that the KGB decided to reward Johnson with a bonus of $2,000 and the rank of honorary Major in the Red Army. The information⁠—rumored to include the numbers and locations of US nuclear warheads in Europe⁠—was deemed so important that it was presented to Comrade Khrushchev himself.

While there are plenty of stories of Johnson using a vaguely described radioactive device, I’ve found so far almost no documentation or details. Explanations of the Soviet portable X-ray design that cracked a top-secret lock seems obscure, and probably intentionally.

Allegedly the first lock was cracked by making a wax impression of the key, the second lock had a combination written on paper that someone left in a trash can. These are routine weaknesses. The development in October 1961 of an X-ray to crack the third and final lock for U.S. top-secret files is by far the most interesting, especially given the timing, and yet very little record at all has been made available.

BBC Claims Americans Think of Presidents as Demigods

I’m really struggling to get through a BBC article called “Who truly was the most dishonest president?”

This section in particular is really hard to read.

Once upon a time Americans placed an almost childlike trust in their commanders-in-chief. They were venerated as demigods. When did it change? Many historians date this rupture to Lyndon Baines Johnson, though he was far from the first president to deceive.

That seems so backwards as to be completely laughable. Which historians?

To begin with, LBJ became president when JFK was assassinated.

Would assassination count as a rupture? I mean saying public change in trust dates to LBJ as president kind of misses at least one big prior rupture event, no?

I would think JFK immediately disproves such a theory of American public rupture and distrust dating to LBJ. And on that note there were assassinations and attempted assassinations long before JFK.

Consider the 1881 assassination of Garfield, for just one obvious example:

Like most presidents up to that point, he was not accompanied by bodyguards or a security detail. As Garfield’s carriage pulled up outside the Baltimore and Potomac, Charles Guiteau paced the waiting room inside, ready to fulfill what he believed was a mission from God. […] In his pocket Guiteau carried a letter addressed to the White House. “The president’s tragic death was a sad necessity,” it read, “but it will unite the Republican Party and save the Republic. Life is a fleeting dream, and it matters little when one goes.”

The whole point of the American system used to be that President would be a citizen and not someone “venerated as demigods” or dare I say someone… monarchical.

Garfield literally ran for office on the premise of being a plain farmer who would roll his sleeves up to cut the “weeds” of “calumny, falsehood, fraud, venom, hatred, defamation and malice”.

“Farmer Garfield: Cutting a swath to the White House” 1880. Source: Library of Congress

The bar is low to become a President, with many running on the premise of being common, so on what basis would anyone mistakenly shift that in their mind to a high one?

Who was venerated? Who was given childlike trust?

The author should perhaps prove these assertions, or at least detail them, first before ironically waxing on about deception.

the poetry of information security