• VicSlider1
  • VicSlider4
  • VicSlider5
  • VicSlider2
  • VicSlider3

Socotra House Publishing: Purveyor of Glib Words to the World

Socotra House Publishing is a small press dedicated to publishing and distributing the historical works of Vic Socotra, a non-mortal fellow who captures American and military history with aplomb.

Forecasts Magnified & Distorted

Life and Island Times July 29 2016 – Forecasts Magnified & Distorted

This one is from early 2013.

———————————————–

When you take upon yourself the schooling of others using your own life

adventures as sign posts, and to acquaint them with what monsters lie in

deep caverns, cruise beneath the sea and lurk in our souls, do not, through

ignorance, omit telling them of these beasts’ power to heal the inward bruise.

It is impossible to meet a motorcyclist on the road without being struck

by his appearance. While small and slight compared to the drivers and their

four wheeled motor vehicles, the rider is eagerly scanning the wide expanse

around him, with a totally different air from those engaged in regular motoring.

It is not until well after the motorcyclist returns from his

pursuit of distant byways, that non-riders can see in his

appearance the beast within and the savage road he has just traveled.

It is not generally well known that few motorcyclists

ever return from a trip unchanged by the road.

Forecasts Magnified & Distorted

Some call me Marlow. Many years ago – I am unable recall how many with precision – having stuffed more than enough money in the pockets of brokers and bankers on my behalf, achieved a certain professional mastery during adventures upon the seven seas, and nothing particular to interest me at home – I thought I would ride my motorcycle to see the drier parts of the world. It is the sole means I had available to quell my ennui and regulate my dyspepsia. Whenever I find myself down in the mouth, growing disconsolate about the newspaper headlines trumpeting the crisis of the day; whenever it is a sticky, humid August in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before whiskey bars, and considering posting some rant on every internet listserv that I follow; and especially whenever my maternal Irish curse of melancholic rage begins to rise in my chest, that it requires a strong drink or utter exhaustion to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically insulting and brawling with strangers – then, it is high time to mount my motorcycle as soon as I am able. This is my sole substitute for automatic weapons, booze and aimless self-destruction. As the samurai wields his blade during his daily dawn-light practice and search of zen, I quietly ride my two wheeled machine. There is nothing surprising in this. If others of my acquaintance knew it, most men, sometime or other, cherish these very feelings towards motorcycling life’s back roads with me.

072916-1LIT
Marlow’s Wilma ready to ride

As I approached fifty, I lived in a pre-American Revolution town, now belted round by interstates, lobbyists, commuter rail, and tourists as the Florida Keys are by coral reefs and predator fish. This tidal water town was just below the eastern continental fall line and had long been a place where people traded. Its raw materials and hard goods commerce had long ago been replaced by the froth of service barter. Right and left, brick and cobblestone streets take you waterward to ferries, boardwalks and tourist attractions. Its oldest wharves, which had launched America’s sons, daughters and war machines to defeat the country’s enemies during two hundred and twenty five years, are now bedecked with million dollar condos, chichi restaurants and watering holes. Along the few remaining undeveloped parts of the river bank, crowds look northward towards the proud monuments of an empire in unknowing decline.

No longer do men stare out from these quays beyond the tidal flats fixed in ocean adventure reverie. Most lean against the riverwalk’s rails with Big Gulps in hand, while some slurp Ben and Jerry ice cream cones while endlessly twiddling their texting thumbs. No one appears to want a better view of adventure that awaits in distant lands or seas. Neither sailors or landsmen, these passive virtual trekkers seem tied to smartphones, nailed to benches, and affixed to a world unseen and unseeable. Why and how is this? Are dreams of distant blue highways, green fields, azure seas, and verdant islands gone? What do they here?

At night there come more crowds – younger, energetic – racing past the Cohongarooton’s water, and bound for the local dives. It is strange that nothing nautical in this maritime portal contents them. They loiter under the shady lights of faux alehouses with pro sporting contest coverage blasting forth from large screen video displays, alternately consuming energy drinks and high powered cocktails. Why these inlanders all come from their lanes and cul de sacs, streets and avenues to unite here by the sea only to get as far away from the water as they possibly can without digging themselves a grave and jumping in remains a mystery.

Life carries us all to watery pools in streams, thence to rivers and finally the sea. We are compelled to follow and seek water and its magic. Philosophers mediate next to it, artists paint it, romantics dream by it, travelers seek its charm, and all require its nourishing power. I feel its mystical power most when upon it. It becomes a holy place when land is no longer in sight. Gods and monsters are there. They vibrate it and all those who sail it.

The ocean is where I became what I became, where I first saw the reflection of what I am. It made the phantoms of life graspable. Upon it I know that it is all right and am content.

Life is about balance, and incomplete is one who seeks extending life’s rhumb line without knowing its originating point. So I seek, not as passenger, but as simple able-bodied seamen before the mast the source of the water.

Motorcycling to my cradle spring provides the same benefits that sailors at sea receive – mental and physical exercise and fresh air. Just as at sea, two wheeled mariners encounter prevalent head winds. Bikers sense the weather like their waterborne brethren do in forecastle and aloft in the yardarms.

My motorcycling voyage may have been part of some divine plan drawn up a long time ago. Were it a picture show at a local movie theater, it would have been a short in between two top grossing, long playing features. The playbill would have listed it:

“WALL STREET CRASHES, MANY SUICIDES”

“MOTORCYCE DIARY BY MARLOW”

“BLOODY WAR IN AFFGHANISTAN CONTINUES”

Why make this journey? What motivates one to depart comfort, chuck success, and eschew chance for war glory on foreign shores? Ennui, certainly not. Adventure, yes. Monsters and gods, perhaps. I had encountered them in forbidden seas, but never really ashore. The journey would take me to places and people remote and potentially barbaric. I like that.

072916-2LIT
Florida Keys road to the mainland

Copyright © 201 6From My Isle Seat

Long Term Care

072816-1

I am at sixes and sevens this morning. I need to go to the bank and the grocery store- I should go to the Commissary, but the car I am thinking about purchasing is on the showroom floor of the Mercedes dealer by the Harris-Teeter supermarket and the Credit Union.

An important note- I do NOT want to buy a car today….but…the Panzer is six years old and maybe this is time for the Last New Car. That should take me well into the nursing home, which is the other thing I was thinking about, since I am a bit riled up over the matter.

I was up at the usual time in the grey dawn, but allowed myself to ease back into bed after grinding the Russian-roast Dazbog whole-bean coffee with the ancient iPad and killed most of the morning’s incoming messages while still abed.

Then I checked Facebook to see what inane things our cohort is up to this morning and discovered that the daughter of a pal had gotten engaged, on a beach somewhere, and then had to call to see the reaction and walked through the maternal minefield about dates and expense and youth, and that led to a short and cryptic remarks that my former company ran another reduction in force drill just after my hasty exit, stage left, which led to another couple calls, and here I am at noon with nothing whatsoever accomplished.

The other two points to ponder were in the stack of mail I was meaning to look at a couple weeks ago.

I knew one of them had some fine print- hell, they both did- and I picked up the one that dealt with Long Term Care in preparation for the inevitable collapse.

It was a one-time special good deal that was offered on my way out of the government, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. This getting old crap is not for sissies. In terms of health care, I was OK with losing the medical coverage when I got Reduced in Force a couple years ago.

I simply went back to the same single-payer military care dispensed with grim efficiency at Walter Reed. Inconvenient, but always there, so long as the Nation needs warriors.

Turning 65, I discovered to my horror that I was being forced onto Medicare in some scheme that I not only did not understand, but actually cost me money out of pocket for the privilege of not using it. I was highly indignant.

So, in addition to that having to be deducted from the monthly pittance that is Social Security, there was more good news. I read the fine print. The Long Term Care is a stand-alone deal, administered by the John Hancock Insurance people.

The nice brochure informed me that there were certain “assumptions” for my “risk group” and that a certain adjustment had to be made- the monthly premium of $80 was going to have to be increased modestly- by $100!

The plan from the nice people at John Hancock originally had sworn to provide as much as $432K over five years should I need to be institutionalized. I imagine there is an unspoken commitment on my part not to linger longer than the five months, but that aspect is unclear.

The underwriter mournfully announced that the original benefit could only be had at $180 a month, but they were generous, and offered several crappier options, should I wish to exercise them, including one that keeps the premiums the same, but truncates the amount and time of coverage by about a half.

I was mulling the new costs that have entered my life and almost thought about the Convention in Philadelphia, but stopped myself just in time. The Panzer is paid off. Could I deal with a car payment again with the mystery medical bills starting to come in? How does anyone afford all this?

And that led directly to the last order of business. The Mercedes dealership is attempting to entice me to purchase a new GLC300 FourMatic for a remarkable low price, if I act by tomorrow.

I have always been a casual decision maker, and if I did something like that it would be the Last New Car, in this life, anyway. And no robots under the hood or behind the wheel.

I guess we will see about that. Somehow, the title to the Panzer floated out of the folder in the milk crate under the television and is accusing me of infidelity.

I will let you know how it goes…but as a concept, I think it is infinitely preferable to the nursing home.

072816-2

Copyright 2016 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

Writer’s Block

Life and Island Times July 28 2016 – Writer’s Block

This one is from 2015.

——————–

There it was again. A blank, white screen, devoid of black snowflakes. It was insistent that it be filled. Marlow could not respond. He was blocked.

072816-1LIT

Writer’s Block by Adam Scott Rote

Writer’s block sounded like a bad medical condition. Was it permanent this time? The end of his invention?

He had lots of topics, events and thoughts about which to write. He had tried endlessly typing and then erasing, always ending up staring at a blank screen. In a town full of characters, narratives, and history, this was always the easiest problem to solve.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t commit to any of the ideas, or that they petered out after a few paragraphs. In the past he had had cool ideas that led to dead ends. He even had tried writing about dumb ideas to get his motor revving. Still nothing.

He had outlines and idea pieces, but none engaged him. Perhaps there was a flow issue getting from point A to point C, because point B made no sense. He admitted that some of the problem was due to the boring parts that he hated to write. He oftentimes in these situations would get sidetracked into very cool tangentials that should and could have stood on their own.

There were many ways to proceed he had employed in the past. Vignettes, short stories and novels abounded. The words were still not coming.

Being bored with his characters was not the problem. They always said and did things. They were bold and vibrant. Admittedly some weren’t interesting or did not fit the flow. At these times he would wield the knife, shelving them for later use.

Much success had been had in the past by submitting to his darkest fears – writing about of worst case outcomes he had seen or experienced. He tried this twice during this latest walkabout in his whited out world to no avail.

Perhaps just dropping in to see what his condition was in would work. “Dope and Roll?” Psychedelia had been a long ago way station on his life’s tracks. Sadly, it never led to anything of worth.

Phasing, backward mastering and a trippy vibe had worked wonders for Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. His mind was already in a brown paper bag. Painting “April Fool” in big black letters on the “Dead End’ sign outside his island’s cemetery just might work.

072816-2LIT

Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah

Copyright © 2016 From My Isle Seat

Weather Report

072716-1

Colleagues,

It is a torrid week here in Baghdad-by-the-Potomac, and a decent thunderstorm might help to clear the sodden air- that is the point of these aperiodic reports.

You may have heard that I have joined the staff of Syntelligent Analytic Solutions to take over the Intelligence Community Portfolio. I am excited about the challenges ahead and eager to see many of you at DoDIIS in Atlanta next week. It will be a great opportunity to share thoughts about the way forward in a nation confronted by an evolving threat landscape and new ways to visualize data and create finished intelligence.

I am going to continue the Weather Report business intelligence on the events in our ever-changing business landscape. I hope to talk to you personally about it at our event at the conference- and get your game on!

072716-2
Here at Syntelligent, we have doubled in size our last appearance at DoDIIS. We have made some key hires to help manage that dramatic growth, and are confident that our Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) status will enable us to help our IC customers to meet their small business goals.

We know that our ability to maintain the delicate calculus required to maintain our compliance will be of great value going forward, and I personally am proud to be part of that effort.

In fact, I have moved to a HUBZone to help keep us in balance as we focus on growth and excellent in management as we grow our intelligence practice by harnessing our unique and talented people.

See you next week at DoDIIS!

Vic Socotra

IC Account Manager

Syntelligent Analytic Solutions

Honey Boy

Life and Island Times July 27 2016 – Honey Boy

This one is from March of this year.

————————————

Marlow awoke early on the ides of March with an upset stomach. He had forgotten to take his nightly tummy medicine and had sipped a half glass of red wine just before bedtime. He and W had spent wonderful evening with Richard and John playing cards at the dining room table, endlessly chatting about movies, plays, jazz clubs, travel, health and people who populated their honey suckled coral island.

He padded down the darkened hallway to the front room, where his laptop lay, to review the postings from near and far about world happenings, both foreign and domestic. There in the darkness was Honey Boy, splayed out on the circular woven rug in front of the door to the porch. This was not his normal spot. He was listless and did not offer his normal call for Marlow to climb the stairs chop-chop to open a can of pâté for his morning meal.

He just laid there, only raising his head to accept some gentle head scratching from Marlow, who was now kneeling next to him. Honey Boy had lost weight in recent weeks, despite W’s offerings at all hours of the day food that was his most favored from tins and table. Not even a bowl of half and half interested him.

Honey Boy was impossible to dislike. Big but not a bruiser. Black but with a white g-spot. Food obsessed. An ardent lover of warmth in sunshine filled window sills, doorways and people’s laps. So ludicrously placid that everyone from casual strangers to his cat-sitter (he called her staff) adored him.

They suspected his part in their lives might be coming to a close, when he refused to eat macerated medium rare steak– his favorite table scrap. He had stopped grooming himself, was drinking practically nothing and had started hiding in places he never had in the past. W suspected a failure to thrive, while Marlow held out for something that could be treated with pharma and couple of days in a pet ICU in Marathon.

The ides led the three of them to a small treatment room at the veterinarian to hear the news. No masses, no blockages, but a barely perceptible yellow tint in his ear skin. Full serum and blood labs with a pathologist review were necessary before treatment could be even considered.

After paying up, they left, slightly dazed.

Upon arriving back home, they started creating a slurry of his tinned cat food and injecting it milliliter by milliliter directly into his month to give him more calories. W did this four to five times a day. W cleaned the cat, herself, and the kitchen after each session.

On St Patrick’s day, the vet called them back and asked W to bring Honey Boy back for more labs that they would run in house. Honey Boy was bleeding internally and very dehydrated. He was given a bag of saline interstitially.

The vet called back this morning. It was all bad news. It was time. For their third trip to the vet, they wrapped the limp Honey Boy in a brightly striped beach towel and proceeded directly to the vet’s OR, where they said their goodbyes before, during and after the injection.

Arriving back home they were greeted by Angel, Honey Boy’s best friend and fellow black cat.
Honey Boy had raised her since she came to the house as a foundling six years ago.

She has mewled about the house off and on since, looking for him.

They miss him.

072716-1LIT
Honey Boy (l) and his sweet Angel (r)

Copyright © 2016 From My Isle Seat

Farnborough 2016


Jim Mueller is a peripatetic traveler, NIP Stalwart and regular contributor to the NIP Quarterly. Earlier this month, he visited the Farnborough International Airshow, a week-long event that combines a major trade exhibition for the aerospace and defense global conglomerates. It is modestly known by it’s promoters as THE WORLDS GREATEST AIRSHOW. In the days of the Cold War, Iron Curtain nations did not attend and the show was held annually.

That has changed. The event is now bi-annual, and everyone with commercial or military aviation items to sell are warmly welcomed. Jim considers the airshow an important event in the international aerospace and defense industry calendar, as the vendor community takes the opportunity to demonstrate civilian and military aircraft to potential customers and investors. The show is also used for the announcement of new developments and orders, and to attract media coverage.

The 2012 iteration of Farnborough attracted 109,000 trade visitors over the first five days, and 100,000 public visitors on the Saturday and Sunday. Orders and commitments for 758 aircraft were announced, a total worth a cool $72 billion in US dollars.

The show has its origins in the annual RAF Airshow at Hendon, held after the first installment in the Great War (1920-1937) and as war clouds loomed again on the European skyline. After the conclusion of the Second World War, the show was resurrected at Radlett, the site of the Handley Page airfield, 1946-48, and then moved to Farnborough where it has remained ever since, close by the home of the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Naturally, aerial demonstrations are a crowd-pleasing aspect of the show.
At the 1958 show, the RAF Black Arrows Flight Demonstration team executed a 22-plane formation loop, a world record for the greatest number of aircraft looped in formation, and remains unbroken to this day.

Here is a professional intelligence officer’s view of Farnborough, 2016:

“Finally .. I had the opportunity this year to visit the biennial Farnborough Int’l Air Show (FIA)!”

– which along with the Paris show (in the odd years) are the largest and oldest such displays in Europe. The show was held 11-17 July at Farnborough airfield 35 miles SW of London. Monday-Thurs are “trade days”, Sat-Sunday are ‘public viewing’ days and the Friday event which I attended is now called Fab Friday – sort of a hybrid. Both sessions draw over 100,000 visitors. So there’s somewhat different stuff displayed and flown on different days…

In 2014, the show saw US$204bn of engine and aircraft orders made at the show, over 1500 exhibitors and 100,000 trade visits. This year, with the world such as it is, the initial numbers were reportedly a good bit less …. about US$124 bn sales and options …

( see some of the acft “orders story”… http://www.fool.com/investing/2016/07/18/airbus-wins-a-hollow-victory-at-farnborough.aspx

Highlights:

– Finally…. the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the long-delayed, troubled and costly JSF finally debuted here after being forced to cancel their 2014 appearance (due to a major engine fire and blade rub problems).

An RAF and two USMC F-35Bs both flew over, were demo’d at the show and were on static display this year…

…the ‘trans-Lant’ crossing itself was a bit of an effort … and blessed with a rainbow… on arrival at Fairford…

The aircraft (a Dutch model) had already been shown a bit earlier this year at Leeuwarden, Netherlands (in June) and at the Royal Int’l Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford just a week earlier … strangely, (to me) 3 x USAF F-35As flew from Luke all the way across the Atlantic for RIAT…. did not show at Farnborough..

072616-5
The Joint Strike Fighter makes its long-awaited British debut, with its flight and hovering capabilities.

072616-6
P&W’s F-35B F135-600 engine and lift fan…..

– Boeing – celebrated their 1916-2016 Centenary at their pavilions …

072616-7
one public, one ‘Invite only’ .. http://www.boeing.co.uk/boeing-100.page

and displayed and pushed their …..737MAX

072616-8
The Boeing 737 MAX made its first airshow appearance at Farnborough this year(Credit: Boeing)

….. but not on the day I was there and in fact there were very few Boeing acft on display – reportedly have over 3,000 orders for this model …….

072616-9
Their 787 had flown on earlier ‘trade days’……

072616-10_boeingmap
The Navy did have a F/A-18 Super Hornet.. which flew….. another was on static display

072616-11
as was the P-8 Poseidon …..

072616-12
which was actually a big story locally as the Brits announced their buy of 9 acft…..

072616-13
PM David Cameron, on 11 July…. just two days to go on the job…. w. Fallon. (Def.)

072616-14
Boeing+Poseidon+P8-A+at+Farnborough+2014++2.jpg (690×768)

“Tuffi” and “RTB” are a couple of very cool RAF embeds in USN VP sqns…….

072616-15
MV-22 Osprey was another ‘no show’ … but was at Fairford .. just days earlier….

…. some other big Boeing news earlier was the recent agreement to sell about 100 acft to Iran !

– Airbus of course was very big, and had……

072616-16x
2 x A-380s… size does matter…. to show-goers but Airbus also announced that they were cutting 380 production from 27 to just 12 a year…..

072616-17
2 x A350-X-WB …. wide bodies…..

072616-18
and their A-400M large prop cargo acft … all three flying back-to-back, low, slow and close to the crowd…. started off the flying show…..the P-8 flt. was the final, and very late act….

072616-19
Airbus also had a choice spot for their visitors to watch the show………

Five new international pavilions had been established for Austria, Brazil, China, the Republic of Ireland and South Korea.

– China’s was much touted as a big first this year effort and their new ‘advanced regional jet – ARJ-21 was expected …. to fly …..:

072616-20
….but instead we got models… and few visitors ( at least on Friday – I was all alone there ! )

072616-21
ARJ-21s

072616-22
The new COMAC C919 commercial jet….. a would-be Boeing 737 and Airbus A300 challenger

See:

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2117063-chinas-comac-sets-sights-on-boeing-airbus/

– Note: Show biz ! Farnborough International, Ltd, the organiser of the biennial aviation jamboree staged in Hampshire, announced that it will lend its expertise to a new show near Chengdu in Sichuan province.

Scheduled to begin in September 2017, the planned five-day event will be the first to concentrate on promoting China’s civil aviation and aerospace manufacturing industries in the hope of opening up the country’s market to Western companies.

This will evidently be an addition to the current state-sponsored Zhuhai Air Show held in even numbered years.

– Russia: seemed to have very minimal displays. No aircraft ! and their chalets were “By Invitation Only” and seemed void of people (on Friday…).

072616-23
Most members of the Russian delegation were not issued British visas at the previous Farnborough 2014 airshow due to the geopolitical situation in Ukraine.

Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos refused to take part in the Farnborough 2016 airshow after Great Britain did not allow the corporation’s delegation to attend a local arms exhibition in 2015. … and they’re still upset…. http://russianeconomyportal.blogspot.com/2016/05/mp-salon-farnborough-will-be.html

But there was news…… of a proposed Russian-Chinese wide-body joint venture……

http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/aerospace/2016-07-18/uac-and-comac-work-budget-new-widebody-program

…another challenge to the Boeing-Airbus duopoly….. ?

– A new Ukrainian-built medium lift An-178 cargo acft was there…..

072616-24
– Flying shows: Due to a deadly air show accident last Oct. at Shoreham, acrobatic flights were been significantly restricted and the RAF Red Arrows did not perform stunts at Farnborough for the first time in more than 50 years because of new safety rules.

Copyright 2016 Jim Mueller and Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

072616-25

The aircraft exploded into flames, sending its shell hurtling along the roadway careering into passing vehicles, leaving another 16 people badly injured

+3

. due to the crash of a vintage Hawker Hunter..where 11 people on the ground were killed …. and the pilot may be charged.

072616-26x

RAF Red Arrows team in a straight and level fly-by…. pretty sedate…..

oddity…. a B-727 fitted for oil spill spraying….. the very last of over 1,800 built…

072616-27x

AvWeek short flying clip:
http://aviationweek.com/farnborough-airshow-2016/farnborough-airshow-air-display-highlights

Marlow’s Advice

Life and Island Times July 2016– Marlow’s Advice

This one was written as a personal note to Vic back in the spring of 2014.

————————————–

There’s a man in DC who don’t feel just right
Now things are getting worse, yes a serious bind
Times like this it takes a place with style that one cannot often find
An island of the heart and an island of the mind
If you like islands with boogie sound and bare feet
If you like the sound of shuffling feet it can’t be beat
If you wanna feel real nice, just come down, that’s Marlow’s advice

It’s just a small island town but patients come
From New York to Paris from miles around
From Frisco, Utah to New Orleans
In cars, planes, boats and limousines
It’s a place of soul music, it’s got everything
Multiple degrees in rock, PhDs in swing
Its Masters in rhythm will make your heart sing

If you like islands with boogie sound and bare feet
If you like the sound of shuffling feet it can’t be beat
If you . . . if you wanna
If you wanna feel real nice, just come down, that’s Marlow’s advice

072616-1LIT
Marlow’s Advice

Copyright © 2016 From My Isle Seat

Save

HAMMERTOSS

072516-1

It has been quite chaotic over the last couple weeks, what with the remarkable and depressing international, national, professional and personal threats to good order and discipline. One of my more mundane challenges has been to port over Microsoft Office Outlook to manage my calendar and incoming messages from a different computer network.

I don’t understand how it all works, though with detailed instructions, I think I have got the desktop and laptop machines to communicate. I would hate to have my emails subject to exploitation by competitive entities. Just Friday, as I was about to unscramble the smtp and POP settings, the hacker umbrella group Wikileaks dumped 19,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

Embarrassing is the most modest description of the disclosure of confidential political information.I am not going to get into that- there is plenty of stuff to look at if you wish to delve into the inner workings of one of the campaign juggernauts. I am sure there are equally squalid musings on the servers of the GOP folks, and I am equally confident we will see them at whatever the most opportune moment might be for whoever is responsible.

I was talking to my best friend this morning on a crappy phone line, and we agreed this is the most depressing political line-up on both sides of the chasm since Millard Fillmore’s campaign. I will not break my longstanding policy of staying out of it in the public forum. But this one has some interesting implications, particularly if the disclosure is from a cyber operation run by our former opponent and second place-finisher in the Cold War.

In 2014, cybersecurity company FireEye discovered a nasty piece of malware called HAMMERTOSS. In the wake of the successful STUXNET attack on the air-apped Iranian nuclear centrifuges, this new malware blended a sophisticated spearfishing effort with commonly used social media.

Information Week’s Kelly Jackson Higgins broke it down this way: “The attackers automatically rotate Twitter handles daily for sending commands to infected machines, and use images embedded with encrypted command information and then upload stolen information to cloud storage services, for example. They also recruit legitimate web servers that they infect as part of the command and control infrastructure.”

This nasty bit of business was developed by a group called “APT 29,” for advanced persistent threat. The forensics of the exploit sounded a lot like the hunt for the Moonlight Maze hackers almost twenty years ago.

I was working at Langley at the time, and this was the first real demonstration of what Charlie Allen, the Deputy Director for Collection, darkly termed “nation state” involvement. He worked that case hard for months.

I am not aware that Charlie got any direct attribution about who was the perpetrator in the case, though the external details were familiar. First, of course was the target and the sort of data that was stolen. Then there was the other external information, like APT 29 appeared to take Russian holidays off, their work hours seemed to align with the time zone that includes Moscow and St. Petersburg. And they are very good indeed, which suggests the backing of a nation-state.

That is hardly a case of solid attribution, which is the biggest problem for cyber warriors, which is to identify exactly who it is you intend to go to war with. There are many state actors in the business, after all, including the ones you hear about and the ones you don’t.

Anyway, the impact of this leak is clearly intended to influence an American Presidential election. I am deeply opposed to that sort of behavior by anyone, foreign or domestic, but if we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt exactly who is responsible, I am not sure what can be done about it. Should we declare war on Mr. Putin? Suppose it was the Chinese?

As you recall, HAMMERTOSS was inserted into the unclassified (I hope) email systems at State, the White House and the Joint Staff in the Pentagon along with the DNC. So really, the question is not so much about whether Debby liked Bernie, or whether sharp-elbowed politics are practiced in our Babylon By the Potomac.

The question is more along the lines of what else do they have? What sort of dirt is out there with which we will be horrified? And when are we going to find out?

Copyright 2016 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com

Key Weird Update

Life and Island Times July 25 2016 – Key Weird Update

This one is from the spring of 2014.

——————————–

Some refer to this island as Key Weird. Hunter S Thompson’s take was more direct – When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Doctor Seuss wrote “we’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness…”

It seems that once islanders embrace their weirdness, they become confident in it and ensure that everyone knows it. Here are two photos taken at the local cemetery that make this point:

072516-1LIT

Key West thinks nothing is amiss with a guy who routinely bikes around town wearing nothing but a G-string and a homemade stovepipe hat. Last year islanders were entertained by the legal dispute over a cache of valuable emeralds that one treasure hunter testified he found in the Gulf of Mexico by following a map he bought for $500 from a guy in a bar. His emeralds were later proved forensically to be without value and his claims an elaborate deception to defraud potential investors.

Old salts feel that Key West’s weirdness these days is forced. Eccentricity feels more like a tourist attraction than an expression of an internal need. Hell, Key Weird has an official Twitter site – https://twitter.com/KeyWeird

Witness this menu posted on the porch of the Adult Entertainment Club on upper Duval Street:
072516-2LIT

Some are pushing back, as witnessed by this photo of a sign taken at bar on Geiger Key way out in the mangroves:

072516-3LIT

Come on down and see who wins.

Copyright © 2016 From My Isle Seat

The Judge, Part Deux

072416-1

Funerals at Arlington are a strange two-part affair. The first event is the stunner- the one in which you discover that an old pal or professional acquaintance has passed from this world to another. There is a grieving family, a memorial service, and tears.
Then the matter is turned over to the Cemetery Administration for the organizing of the official ceremony with the Honor Guard of the respective Service and the horsemen of the Old Guard, the 3rd US Infantry, who wrangle the caisson and horses of escort.

2072416-1

Months then pass until the necessary resources are available to provide the nation’s honors to the deceased. Time had come around again after nearly a year. It is a curious process, this Arlington business, though I doubt if I will mind when my time comes around.
When the news came last year about Rick Schiff I was stunned. I had been off doing whatever it was that I do, and had missed his last illness. Rick had been a good pal for decades, on active duty and in his post-Navy life. We used to lunch when he was at the Indian Gaming commission and in the Homeland Security business after 9/11.

I had the chance to go skiing with him at Wisp Mountain near their retirement home at Deep Creek in Garret County, MD. It was the last time I tried to ski, which made the trip especially memorable. Then we drank our way around the lake at the various establishments he had grown to know.
We had a blast. He has always had an impish sense of humor and tremendous insight into how things really work.

The time for Part Dieux came around last Thursday. My personal life was in turmoil, but that was a purely secondary matter to the importance of honoring his memory.
He was 71 when he left us. Way too soon, I thought, uncomfortably aware of my current age and litany of infirmities.

32072416-1

I parked as cose as I could get to the Old Post Chapel as I could, and slipped into a pew at the back to wait for the official moment for the service to begin. I have been in that place a couple dozen times now, and it is as close to a local church as I get these days.

The service was presided over by a Rabbi who marched through it with solemn dignity. The troops were arrayed outside in crisp dress whites. When the service was done, we filed out of the chapel and found our cars to drive through the back gate and down to the gravesite for the official honors.

My thoughts and prayers are with Judi, Karen and Daniel at this sad time. But it is done now, and I think there is a sense of closure. I drove away from the mobile enclosure where the official ceremony, the formation of honor guard Sailors, the firing party, and the mobile enclosure and saw that they had moved the urn over to where it will be interred.

There was a man who appeared to be looking at it with professional interest. It is always strange being ushered away at the end of the ceremonies, since the last work is not done yet.
I made a note of the location. He will lie not far from Mac Showers, and I think my buddy the U2 pilot is in the same section.

I will be seeing Rick frequently in the years to come. I miss him a lot.

32072416-4

Copyright 2016 Vic Socotra
www.vicsocotra.com