The evidence points to a UPS mix-up. The outside of the box had two address labels on it – and Horvitz’s address was on top.
“There’s a UPS label on the outside of the box that matched my information, and had the tracking number,” Horvitz said. “But underneath my label — the plastic bag with my label on it — there was a UPS label affixed to the box with other information on it.
“[The police] were kind of confused at first,” Horvitz said. “They spent some time inspecting the gun, asking some questions about how I made the Amazon purchase…. They confirmed that it was a weapon that you can’t own in the district. They said by law that you can’t return this; we have to confiscate it and handle it for you.”
Horvitz just wants his TV.
“I wanted something that would be good as a computer monitor, that would be good for movies, too,” he said.
Some great material for a next Onion episode.
David Martin’s Thirteen Rules for Truth Suppression, H. Michael Sweeney’s 25 Rules of Disinformation (and now Brandon Smith’s Disinformation: How It Works) are classic lessons on how to spot disruption and disinformation tactics.
We’ve seen a number of tactics come and go over the years. Here are the ones we see a lot of currently.
1. Start a partisan divide-and-conquer fight or otherwise push emotional buttons to sew discord and ensure that cooperation is thwarted. Get people fighting against each other instead of the corrupt powers-that-be. Use baseless caricatures to rile everyone up. For example, start a religious war whenever possible using stereotypes like “all Jews are selfish”, “all Christians are crazy” or “all Muslims are terrorists”. Accuse the author of being a gay, pro-abortion limp-wristed wimp or being a fundamentalist pro-war hick when the discussion has nothing to do with abortion, sexuality, religion, war or region. Appeal to people’s basest prejudices and biases. And – as Sweeney explains – push the author into a defensive posture:
Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule … Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left-wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”, “sexual deviates”, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
2. Pretend it’s hopeless because we’ll be squashed if we try. For example, every time a whistleblower leaks information, say “he’s going to be bumped off”. If people talk about protesting, organizing, boycotting, shareholder activism, spreading the real facts, moving our money or taking other constructive action, write things to scare and discourage people, say something like “we don’t have any chance because they have drones and they’ll just kill us if we try”, or “Americans are too stupid, lazy and greedy, so they’ll never help out.” Encourage people to be apathetic instead of trying to change things.
3. Demand complete, fool-proof and guaranteed solutions to the problems being discussed. For example, if a reporter breaks the story that the big banks conspired to rig a market, ask “given that people are selfish and that no regulation can close all possible loopholes … how are you going to change human nature?”, and pretend that it’s not worth talking about the details of the market manipulation. This discourages people from reporting on and publicizing the corruption, fraud and other real problems. And it ensures that not enough people will spread the facts so that the majority know what’s really going on.
4. Suggest extreme, over-the-top, counter-productive solutions which will hurt more than help, or which are wholly disproportionate to what is being discussed. For example, if the discussion is whether or not to break up the big banks or to go back on the gold standard, say that everyone over 30 should be killed because they are sell-outs and irredeemable, or that all of the banks should be bombed. This discredits the attempt to spread the facts and to organize, and is simply the web method of the provocateur.
5. Pretend that alternative media – such as blogs written by the top experts in their fields, without any middleman – are untrustworthy or are motivated solely by money (for example, use the derogatory term “blogspam” for any blog posting, pretending that there is no original or insightful reporting, but that the person is simply doing it for ad revenue).
6. Coordinate with a couple of others to “shout down” reasonable comments. This is especially effective when the posters launch an avalanche of comments in quick succession … the original, reasonable comment gets lost or attacked so much that it is largely lost.
7. Use an army of sock puppets. You can either hire low-wage workers in India or other developing countries to “astroturf” or – if you work for the government – you can use software which allows you to quickly create and alternate between numerous false identities, each with their own internet address.
9. When the powers-that-be cut corners and take criminally reckless gambles with our lives and our livelihoods, protect them by pretending that the inevitable result - nuclear accidents, financial crises, terrorist attacks or other disasters – were “unforeseeable” and that “no could have known”.
10. Protect the rich and powerful by labeling any allegations of criminal activity as being a “conspiracy theory”. For example, when Goldman gets caught rigging markets, label the accusations as mere conspiracies.
The following 4 tactics from Sweeney are also still commonly used …
11. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.
12. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
13. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism reasoning — simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.
14. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could so taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
15. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with. Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually them be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues — so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
Postscript: Over a number of years, we’ve found that the most effective way to fight disruption and disinformation is to link to a post such as this one which rounds up disruption techniques, and then to cite the disinfo technique you think is being used.
Specifically, we’ve found the following format to be highly effective in educating people in a non-confrontational manner about what the disrupting person is doing:
Nice example of Number 13!
Good Number 1!
The reason this is effective is that other readers will learn about the specific disruption tactic being used … in context, like seeing wildlife while holding a wildlife guide, so that one learns what it looks like “in the field”. At the same time, you come across as humorous and light-hearted instead of heavy-handed or overly-intense.
Try it … It works.
A St. Paul, Minnesota family claims in a lawsuit that police officers who conducted a wrong-door raid on their home shot their dog, and then forced their three handcuffed children to sit near the dead pet while officers ransacked the home. The lawsuit, which names Ramsey County, the Dakota County Drug Task Force, and the DEA, and asks for $30 million in civil rights violations and punitive damages after a wrong-door raid, also claims that the officers kicked the children and deprived one of them of her diabetes medication.
The suit also alleges that one of the lead officers with the task force “provided false information” in order to get a warrant to raid the Franco family’s home. (That information being the Franco family’s address, and not that of their supposedly criminal neighbor Rafael Ybarra.)
And boy, did Ybarra miss out on a horrific raid. Courthouse News reports:
But on the night of July 13, 2010, the task force broke down the Francos’ doors, “negligently raided the home of plaintiffs, by raiding the wrong home and physically brutalizing all the above-named occupants of said house,” the complaint states.
Even after learning that they were in the wrong house, the complaint states, the drug busters stayed in the Francos’ home and kept searching it.
They “handcuffed all of the inhabitants of the plaintiffs’ home except plaintiff Analese Franco who was forced, virtually naked, from her bed onto the floor at gunpoint by officers of the St. Paul Police Department SWAT team and officers of the St. Paul Police Department.”
The complaint states: “Upon forcibly breaching the plaintiffs’ home, defendants terrorized the plaintiffs at gun and rifle point.
“Each plaintiff was forced to the floor at gun and rifle point and handcuffed behind their backs.
“Defendants shot and killed the family dog and forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour while defendants continued to search the plaintiffs’ home.”
One child “was kicked in the side, handcuffed and searched at gunpoint,” the family says.
Another child, a girl, “a diabetic, was handcuffed at gunpoint and prevented by officer from obtaining and taking her medication, thus induced a diabetic episode as a result of low-blood sugar levels.”
I sat down at yet-another coffee shop in Portland determined to get some work done, catch up on some emails and write another blog post.
About 30 minutes into my working, an elderly gentleman at least 80 years old sat down next to me with a hot coffee and a pastry. I smiled at him and nodded and looked back at my computer as I continued to work.
“Do you like Apple? As he gestured to the new Macbook Air I had picked up a few days prior.
“Yea, I’ve been using them for a while.” Wondering if I was going to get suckered into a mac vs. pc debate in a portland coffee shop with an elderly stranger.
“Do you program on them?
“Well, I don’t really know how to code, but I write quite a bit and spend a lot of time creating online projects and helping clients run their businesses.”
“I’ve been against Macintosh company lately. They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things. With a computer you can make things. You can code, you can make things and create things that have never before existed and do things that have never been done before.”
“That’s the problem with a lot of people”, he continued, “they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before.”
I nodded my head in agreement and laughed to myself – thinking that would be something that I would say and the coincidence that out of all the people in the coffee shop I ended up talking to, it was this guy. What a way to open a conversation.
The old man turned back at his coffee, took a sip, and then looked back at me.
“In fact, I’ve done lots of things that haven’t been done before”, he said half-smiling.
Not sure if he was simply toying with me or not, my curiousity got the better of me.
Oh really? Like what types of things?, All the while, half-thinking he was going to make up something fairly non-impressive.
I invented the first computer.
Um, Excuse me?
I created the world’s first internally programmable computer. It used to take up a space about as big as this whole room and my wife and I used to walk into it to program it.
What’s your name?”. I asked, thinking that this guy is either another crazy homeless person in Portland or legitimately who he said he was.
Sure enough, after .29 seconds, I found out he wasn’t lying to my face. Russell Kirsch indeed invented the world’s first internally programmable computer and as well as a bunch of other things and definitely lives in Portland. As he talked, I began googling him, he read my mind and volunteered:
Here, I’ll show you
He stood up and directed me to a variety of websites and showed me through the archives of what he’d created while every once in a while dropping some minor detail like:
I also created the first digital image. It was a photo of my son.
At this point, I learned better than to call Russell’s bluff, but sure enough, a few more google searches showed that he did just that.
This video which seems to have been released by Houston Mayor Annise Parker as a part of the…ahem… Run, Hide, Fight series is nuts. I understand the need for awareness and diligence toward creeps (not just in the USA and not just terrorists) but this ummm “awareness” is over the top – particularly with regard to photographers.
After watching the video and others in the series, there are basically two groups that appear to be the focus.
1) people planting bombs – a multitude of examples including vests, backpacks, people trying to gain access to do this; and…
2) people taking photos – of public spaces? and exits? and… huh?
Seriously? Those are the two groups we should fear? I’m particularly referring to roughly the 1:45 mark where the specific vilification of photographers or “people with recording devices” is a big WTF.
“Did I ever consider resigning?” he asks preemptively. “No. People and companies make mistakes. I guarantee we’ll make a mistake next quarter. So what? Businesses make mistakes. Hopefully smaller, and fewer.”
“Everyone is talking about the culture, the culture, and all that, and it’s just not true,” Dimon says. “Most bankers are decent, honorable people. We’re wrapped up in all this crap right now. We made a mistake. We’re sorry.
A lot of people lost their homes and savings over your little “mistakes”. How much did you lose?
And poor little you is being hampered by the rules?
“We recently had an event with a hundred small bankers here, and 85 percent of them said they can’t challenge the regulation because of the potential retribution. That’s a terrible thing. Okay? This is not the Soviet Union. This is the United States of America. That’s what I remember. Guess what,” he says, almost shouting now. “It’s a free. Fucking. Country.”
Go full-screen for best effect
How many times we snatch up a tweet, a Facebook-post or a blog entry and spin away on it without getting into the subject or checking the source. People, especially those active on the net, loves to discuss and debatera on things, online, at work, school, party, etc… A rumor that may speed is very difficult to stop.
We must become more critical of what we read and think ‘Is this reasonable? ” or ”What’s the origin for this information? ”Because it is not the last time any of this data will be upon us.
But the real question is: Is he affiliated with New Rising Missionary Baptist Council of 1879 or New Rising Missionary Baptist Council of 1912?
A stranded jet-skier seeking help effortlessly overcame the Port Authority’s $100 million, supposedly state-of-the-art security system at JFK Airport — walking undetected across two runways and into a terminal, The Post has learned.
Motion sensors and closed-circuit cameras of the Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, or PIDS, were no match for Daniel Casillo, 31, of Howard Beach, who easily breached the system meant to safeguard against terrorists.
The $100 million spent on security isn’t exactly for security.
It is for the people who provide the security.
Dripping wet and in a bright-yellow life jacket, Casillo climbed the perimeter fence, which is eight feet high, and walked across that runway and intersecting Runway 31L — and made it all the way to Terminal 3 without anyone noticing.
Casillo was finally apprehended when he approached a Delta Airlines worker near Gate10. He was charged with criminal trespass.
It’s clear English is my second language. I wasn’t aware that “trespass” meant “embarrassing the people in charge”
Reluctant as I am to add to the mountain of interpretations of Somebody That I Used To Know seemingly taking over their own area of the internet, I couldn’t resist the massive remixability that such a large, varied yet connected bundle of source material offered.
Belarus’ top security agency, the KGB, has summoned a Swedish advertising team for questioning after the group air-dropped hundreds of parachute-wearing teddy bears that carried pro-human rights messages onto the soil of the authoritarian former Soviet state.
The summons, signed by an investigator named P Tsernavsky and posted on the KGB’s website on Saturday, said the agency was investigating the “criminal case” of the advertising group’s “illegal crossing” into Belarusian airspace.
The agency threatened the Swedes with fines or “correctional work for up to two years, or imprisonment for up to six months” if they did not show up in 10 days.
Mr. Lukashenko has never heard of Ms. Streisand?