Link drop March 2021


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I didn't even know that electric can openers are a thing. My can opener perfectly bites into all cans and opens them in about three seconds and it's a 50...70 years old piece of stamped and bent or cast iron alloy pieces with a bit of rust.

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Getting more powers, more toys, more possibilities is self-serving for law enforcement. Very few things are actually known to influence crime rates for sure. The up and down of crime rates is still mostly a mystery to researchers. Some seemingly unrelated things like long-term lead exposure of people appear to be much more influential regarding crime than policing, though.

Effective policing can depress crime rates only to some degree, and only some crimes (serial burglaries or serial robbers, for example) are understood to be highly susceptible to policing effects (not counting mere crime hotspot relocation). The best you can do for effective policing is likely not to give police such dystopian tech, but to enforce that it investigates a wide range of crimes properly and doesn't waste resources - neither on signalling nor on irrelevant stuff like bullying minorities, militarization or playing with toys.

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Long story short: The NSA created offensive cyberwar tools, the Chinese got them really quick and used them to cause harm to Western computer networks. Offensive cyberhacking is shooting ourselves into the foot and there's close to zero even only debatable evidence for significant upsides of it.

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Let's have a look at what OSInt (open source intelligence) and an ordinary calm, non-partisan and reasoning approach can deliver in regard to super-important things that seem to be the realm of specialised subject matter experts.

Back on February 1st, 2020 I published (and it was written a few days before):


The big issue isn't that this one kills many people. The flu kills many more in parallel. The big issue is that this one isn't understood yet and might actually be much worse than the flu. At least the mortality rate appears to be no more than a couple per cent so far.
A 'couple per cent' such as 3% could still kill more than both World Wars combined when the infectiousness allows it to overrun the world. That's why contagiousness is so important. Sick people being able to infect others without showing symptoms devalues many containment schemes, and to date it's still not known for certain how exactly the virus can be transmitted. There's a very small chance that it may be airborne.

I suppose the wealthy Western countries will be able to deal with it even though we don't have a culture of wearing face masks to protect others.

Poor countries on the other hand have much less capacity to deal with outbreaks, and might not get much aid if we need our resources for ourselves.

A while later on February 24th, 2020 I broke with the regular "Saturdays-only" blog posts to make an announcement.

The gloves and hand washing tips were the info given at the time, though missing the main transmission path of airborne particles. What I wrote about masks was OK given the available info, albeit masks eventually proved to be really, really important. Some super-specialized subject matter experts were (as it appears) more wrong on masks even months later.

So while the info given (or rather relayed) on countermeasures was ordinary and mediocre at best, the appraisal that this shit could become a really big mess was spot-on, and all this written in late January - weeks before most policymakers finally sprung into serious action outside of PRC, Taiwan and South Korea.

It's encouraging to me in a an already well-known way. I've seen before that my opinions on details change as I add more knowledge and thought on a subject over years, but the big picture appraisals are typically stable and withstand the test of time if tested at all. (And I don't want more of them tested!)

See the flying autonomous drone topic, for example. Around 2010 I was thinking that maybe shotguns should be a thing to defend troops against tiny bird-like or rat-like autonomous killer drones. I now don't really see much potential for troops self-defence against such drones except drones intercepting drones and troops trying to be in closed indoor spaces or behind protective netting. Later I focused on adapted remotely-controlled (and somewhat autonomous) weapon stations on all motor vehicles (except two-wheelers, of course) as a countermeasure to bigger multi-kg drones. The timely detection of  tiny camouflaged drones seems nearly hopeless even in daytime.

What didn't change is that I see a likely revolution at the introduction of autonomous 'killer' drones of such sizes. I'd prefer to be wrong about this, but OSInt plus a calm, non-partisan reasoning approach led me to expect this. More about that later

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"Der Anspruch auf rechtliches Gehör ist in Ermittlungsverfahren für die beschuldigten Personen von größter praktischer Bedeutung. Er ermöglicht es ihnen, sich gegen den Tatvorwurf zur Wehr zu setzen und auf die staatlichen Ermittlungen zu ihren Gunsten Einfluss zu nehmen. Insbesondere voreiligen, sich letztlich als unzutreffend erweisenden Vorwürfen – und das sind, aufs Ganze gesehen, die meisten – kann die Verteidigung effizient entgegentreten. Allerdings nur dann, wenn sie darüber informiert wird.

Vor diesem Hintergrund erschließt sich die Brisanz des geplanten § 95a StPO-E: Dieser sieht die Möglichkeit vor, im Rahmen eines Ermittlungsverfahrens Beschlagnahmen und die ihr vorausgehenden Durchsuchungen bei Dritten vor den hiervon betroffenen beschuldigten Personen entgegen den §§ 33 Abs. 3, 35 Abs. 2 StPO geheim zu halten, ggf. bis zum Abschluss der Ermittlungen."

Es wäre bei weitem nicht das erste verfassungswidrige Gesetz, das von den Konservativen betrieben und verabschiedet würde. Bei der bisherigen Häufiung von erwiesenermaßen (per BVerfG) verfassungswidrigen (Legislativ-)Bestrebungen von CDU/CSU wäre eigentlich mal eine Beobachtung durch den Verfassungsschutz wegen dringendem Verdacht auf Feindlichkeit gegenüber unserer verfassungsmäßigen freiheitlichen Grundordnung angebracht.




  1. In Myanmar there are also pro-junta protests including monks. The acts against the Rohingya seem to have created sympathies among Buddhist extremists. These counterprotests aren't mentioned in our media.

    In the US I wonder what happens the next time a Republican candidate is elected president. This country seems to approach South American normality. What Biden does in Syria makes me scratch my head, it's a sovereign country being attacked without a declaration of war. The US presidency is turning increasingly into an emperor.

    With the second and probably third wave, European countries, including Germany, don't look much better than the US from a global perspective. Is this a sign of institutional decay?

    1. I wrote about the habitual aggressions a.k.a. cruise missile "diplomacy" of the U.S. for years. It's even illegal under their own law, but they choose to ignore their own laws in order to be able to kill foreign (usually brown) people at will.

      It's troublesome that this is widely considered to be normal behaviour, as this also erodes respect for (international) law in Europe as well.

      Germany fails in the pandemic now because it's being ruled by conservatives. Conservatives have a bias towards doing nothing, reforming nothing - and that's a horrible attitude when you need decisive action and even improvisation. Merkel is very consensus-oriented (which suits conservatives who want as little decision towards action as possible). This and the short-sighted (and mostly very unimpressive) states-level minister presidents led to insufficient action when the 2nd wave took off in autumn.
      Another problem is that the conservatives aren't in politics to serve the country or to improve it. They're in there for personal power, and thus have no issues tolerating incompetence and even scandals. The current transportation minister is anti-Midas and a perma-scandal, but the MoD and minister of health are ineffective (to put it nicely) as well.

      The problem isn't institutional decay. They problem is that the voters do not pressure for more effective and improvements-oriented politicians in power. Somehow the concept of democracy falls short of the highest hopes, and we got to live with this mediocrity and be glad that at least we didn't have dangerous idiots (lying moron, Bolsonaro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Mussolini, shrunk Germanic warrior, post-2015 AfD style) in power for 75 years.

    2. Last Dingo:

      >>Germany fails in the pandemic now because it's being >>ruled by conservatives. Conservatives have a bias >>towards doing nothing, reforming nothing - and >>that's a horrible attitude when you need decisive >>action and even improvisation.

      The great coaltion includes the social democrats (which are therefore conservatives in your opinion?) and had changed so many things in germany in the last years, that no gouvernment before can claim to have changed more. From the mass migration 2015 ff to the closure of the nuclear power plants, from the homo-ehe to the to the current way into the debt union, from the minimum wage over the gtz compulsory fees to compulsory health insurance, from the refusal to close the borders even now against illegal immigration to the promotion of gender politics, from the end of the conscription to the measures now that are unique in the history of the federal republic because of the pandemic,

      I strongly doubt that this current gouvernment can be called conservative by any means.

      The fact that current politics in the pandemic is marked by incompetence and mistakes does not make it conservative. There is also leftist incompetence.

    3. You're spilling too much disinformation here.

      immigration 2015: Not a policy, but absence of policy. To claim that it was active policy is a typical AfD propaganda/disinformation. The active policy was about dealing with the immigrants, not about getting them.

      nuclear power plants: 6 are still running

      Homo-Ehe: decision of federal constitutional court
      minimum wage: a swiss cheese, and not enforced

      public radio/TV fees: old story, those existed for decades and were merely simplified

      gender politics: none really

      conscription: still exists, basic military service was ended in large part becuase else the federal constitutional court would have ended it due to too great injustices.

      pandemic countermeasures: mostly state-level policies. The federal government hasn't made much use of the new law so far.

      So yes, the conservatives occasionally do something when absolutely forced to do something, and the social democrats got the minimum wage. That's an awful next-to-nothing for 15 years.

  2. Speaking of China, I find the current China bashing campaign very dangerous. China has been relatively peaceful in the last 4 decades and spent a low ratio of its GDP on the military. America is provoking it. A $30 trillion (GDP PPP) economy with China's industrial capability is more than capable of destabilizing the entire world order. The USSR was only a fraction of China in everything yet millions have died in proxy wars and we barely avoided a nuclear war. I don't want a second cold war.

    1. China's GDP is more than a bit misleading, as an excessive share of it is domestic construction. They're world champions of concrete production by a huge margin.

      Everyone has become used to Americans being aggressive and bullying to small powers, but few are used to China actually being a threat as well. Particularly the Western countries that don't consider the U.S. a threat haven't been used to a major threat in three decades.
      There's also the completely warranted concerns about Jingoism and history revanchism in China. The Australians are currently in a standoff with China, as China makes an example of them.

      About a second Cold War; I believe it's unavoidable in the Pacific due to stupidity on both sides of it. My hope is that Europeans don't muster enough stupidity to become engaged in it. East Asia, Guam, Hawaii - these areas are not of concern to NATO according to the North Atlantic Treaty.