FYI: InfraGard is a Partnership between the FBI and the Private Sector

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

InfraGard is an information sharing and analysis effort serving the interests and combining the knowledge base of a wide range of members. At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector. InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States. InfraGard Chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.

For a little more perspective, a Google image search for InfraGard lays it out quite well.

The short of it is, there are chapters in every state

… and their memberships are growing…

August 2004 – 10,000
Feb 2008 – 23,000
Sept 2010 – 40,000
May 2011 – 50,056 (including FBI)

At issue here is the ability of the government and corporations to piece together the information they collect in the process of doing business with us into detailed personal profiles on us.  One piece of information here or there doesn’t seem like much until you see it all together…

Of course some people like to share and some people don’t.  You could likely find all of this information and more in many people’s Facebook Timeline, but it’s their business to share.  Flip to any page in a history book, if not today’s newspaper, to find examples of why others don’t leave one-pagers about themselves taped to their front door.

This is new territory for everyone.  Humanity has never been able to collect, share and analyze so much data and, in many ways, we are just getting started.  Where will the line need to be redrawn next?  It’s a continual process that requires both sides to know what’s happening.

And now you know.  …  At least about InfraGard, which turns out to be only one part of what the ACLU dubbed The Surveillance-Industrial Complex back in 2004.  So, once we read the other 32 pages of their report, we’ll only be 8 years behind in the conversation.

Never Try to Discourage Thinking for You are Sure to Succeed

In 1951, Bertrand Russell wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine entitled “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism,” which concluded as such

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

It’s quite the ‘eat your vegetables’ kind of list. But what would the other side of this coin look like?  Would the essence of the Conservative outlook of the time really sound something like…

1. Feel absolutely certain about everything.

2. It is worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, because there’s a chance the evidence won’t come to light and until then it will benefit you.

3. Discourage thinking.

4. When you meet with opposition, overcome it by authority and not by argument, for you might lose the argument.

5. Have respect for authority, for they are right.

6. Use power to suppress opinions you think harmful, for it will suppress them.

7. Fear to be eccentric in opinion, for though an opinion might one day be accepted, until then it will be suppressed.

8. Find pleasure in passive agreement.

9. Be scrupulously untruthful, even if the truth is convenient.

10. Envy the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise.

What a frightening experiment.  You could see why no one would promote such a set of ideas explicitly, but, other than tactically, could anyone truly believe in them?

[h/t Marginal Revolution]

11 Ways To Occupy If You Have to Work on May Day

Not everyone who supports the Occupy Movement is going to be able to skip work or school for the General Strike on Tuesday.  Some might not be able to avoid shopping.  Others are going to need to use an ATM or wash the dishes.  Life isn’t stopping on May Day, but the key to a successful action is avoiding an all-or-nothing attitude.  Anything you can not do on May Day counts, so don’t let working get in the way of your strike.

Here’s some ideas on how worker bees can make the most of the day…

1. GO AFTER WORK – The simplest solution to not being able to get out of work for the General Strike is to join the action as soon as you can after work, or before if you work nights.  Same goes for school.  Check the schedule in your town and in most cases you’ll find that events are going on all day long.  No need to explain your absence during the day for you are better later than never.

2. SPREAD THE WORD – Know someone with the day off?  Make sure they know what’s going on.  Post it on Facebook.  Text it, tweet it, reddit it, digg it, pin it, whatever.  Scream it out the window.  Work the word ‘occupy’ into any conversation you can and then speaking of ask, “Did you hear about the General Strike today?

3. INVITE YOUR CO-WORKERS – If you detect any interest as you spread the word, let them know you are dropping by after work and invite them along.  Not everyone knows what going to a march or rally is like and might be interested but anxious.  More will make it merrier.

4. OCCUPY YOUR CUBE – Print out a few posters from Occuprint, crank up a live stream and your striking day can begin at 9am.  Looks like you’ve got eight hours to brainstorm the perfect sign and a captive audience to test them out on.  Hello, supply closet!

5. OCCUPY THE WATER COOLER – Everyone loves a good office joke and it’s the perfect cover for turning your office into the next encampment.  Start with a funny little sign for your water cooler or coffee machine.  If it’s well received, spend the day seeing how far you can go with it.  You know, for fun.

6. INTER-OFFICE MARCH – Go big with signs, chants and a consensus-established parade route or orchestrate a coincidental moment in time where everyone just happened to want coffee at once.

7. LUNCH HOUR OCCUPATION – If you work close to the action, get yourself and your crew out into it for a long lunch.  If you don’t, eat outside the nearest bank.  Bring lunch from home for bonus points.

8. THE IT’S OCCUPIED – For all those whose workplaces won’t tolerate monkey business nor talk of strikes, you’ve still got options.  The bathroom is humanity’s most tried-and-true refuge.  You could go old school and write something on the wall or just hang out for a while with the paper.  Oh yeah, it’s occupied.

9. OCCUPY THE COPIER – To add a little mystery to the day, take your favorite poster from Occuprint and leave it in the copy machine for someone else to find.  Also good for printers though be mindful if everyone on the network will know it was you.

10. THE PRE-OCCUPY – If you really had your heart set on striking and can’t let it go, try distracting yourself and your colleagues with links to the most draining websites you’ve ever found.  Nothing torpedoes a work day like addictive games such as Desktop Tower Defense or cool Tumblrs like AwesomePeopleHangingOutTogether.

11. DONATE – Since you’re spending the day earning, consider giving a bit to your local Occupy or any Occupy you hear about having trouble with the police. Legal funds are being raised to help folks who get arrested and you’ll sleep like a champ at night knowing you helped someone get out of a holding cell quicker.

Got other ideas?  Please share your own in the comments.
Got something going in your office?  Please share that too.

Still got questions about May Day?  Check out Every Thing You Need To Know About May Day * But Were Afraid To Ask.

Every Thing You Need To Know About May Day*

By next Tuesday you are going to stop asking questions about whether or not the Occupy Movement really made it through the winter and the coordinated crackdowns of the camps around the world.  Why?  Because by next Tuesday, Earth is going to feel very Occupied.

What’s going on?  That’s what the Every Thing You Need To Know About May Day * But Were Afraid To Ask chart is here to answer…

(click to enlarge)

Join the world in a much needed day off on a Tuesday and SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT MAY 1ST!

Banks Saying Sorry (or What You Won’t Find When You Open Up Your Letterbox Tomorrow)

What if this really was a letter from Bank of America’s CEO offering up a confession?  Go ahead, pretend…

It’s not the real McCoy of course.  Unknown person(s) have taken it upon themselves to write this letter for Bank of America and you can find out more about why at YourBofA.com.  The site has been set up to solicit ideas and encourage creativity in reimagining your Bank of America, including a bank ad meme generator, for which Ape Con Myth wrote a few entries.  Click through to share your favorite!

In situations like this, it’s important to start out light.

Ease into your subject.  What is the point of a bank in the first place?

If a bank is a business, then should banking be a mutually beneficial arrangement?

Bank of America was a presumptuous name from the start.  General Bank might have been a more appropriate choice, but they wanted the whole enchilada.  The question is, was it a self-fulfilling prophecy that they turned out to be as bad with their money as us?

[Your Bank of America via Forbes] [Related: Hungry, Hungry Hippos (or Banking Mergers 1990-2009]

Meet the Necessities

Food, clothing and shelter don’t really cover it anymore.  It being the necessities, those things we cannot live without.  For many people, survival has been boiled down to one thing.  Actually, it’s two things, but we take one for granted such that it is rarely mentioned.

Death and Taxes might be inevitable, but to stay in the game you’ve got to have a combo more akin to Breath and Cash.  Or, as better put in Ape Con Myth’s first blog post:

Meet The_Necessities_b

There’s the simplified version. Now let’s go the other direction with it…

The_Necessities2

That’s more like it. Okay, it’s 2010 AD. Civilization has had a few thousand years. How are we doing in fulfilling these needs?

The_Necessities_Status2

… We’ve got some work to do.

[Yes, we do.  And now in 2012, with the Supreme Court considering the fate of one piece of this puzzle, Ape Con Myth’s live redesign is paving the way to take our study to the next level.  How do we stop wasting our time struggling and find out what happens when we really dedicate some time to living?]

We Now Pause for Station Identification

 

Here’s what the Ape Con Myth home page looked like back in early 2008…

It started with a list of changes, a general vow to say as little as possible until more data could be studied and ACM’s first major project focused on sketching out the big idea of it all, Reality is a Puzzle.

Two years later, ACM expanded its operations, adding a blog to execute the same process from Reality is a Puzzle, this time with the world’s data being the puzzle pieces and the chalkboards representing ACM’s various efforts to put the pieces together.

Now Ape Con Myth is on the verge of another expansion.  Not only will ACM’s headquarters be relocating this month, but a live redesign will begin next week right here in front of your eyes.

The next time you see the site it won’t look like this.

What happens next?  Stay tuned to find out…

Making Lemonade from an Old and Somewhat Flawed Chart

Yesterday it was a map, today it’s a chart.

The point of this one is to say that, to be part of the world’s richest 1%, all you have to do is make $34,900 a year, after taxes.

That’s per person by household, of course, so if you’ve got a significant other, double it, and if you’ve got a couple of kids, quadruple it.  It raises the bar a bit, but the big shocker is: 29 million, or almost half, of the world’s richest 1% are Americans, just like you!

Then there’s some other countries, take a look…

Now, this chart was part of an article on CNNMoney only a month ago, but we are told the data is from 2005.  Then you count the little chart people, find only 60, and rightly exclaim, “Hey, we hit 6 billion in 1999.”  For 2005, this chart would need four or five more people depending on which way you round it.  It might not seem like much or that long of a time, but world GDP went from $40B to $60B in the same period.  The question is, how would it change our $34,900 number?

But say you do top that number, then look around your surroundings and rightly exclaim, “Hey, I’m not rich.”  Just read the end of the article, silly.  We’re talking about the entire world here.  The world in which the global median income is $1,225/year. “In the grand scheme of things, even the poorest 5% of Americans are better off financially than two thirds of the entire world.”  …  That’s where the record skips.  If you want to hear some reactions to this conclusion, check out the 1,000+ comments that have piled up.  They range from pointing out the differences in cost of living around the world to accusing the writer of trying to take the heat off America’s 1%.

The disconnect is from measuring richness by income, as opposed to wealth.  Yes, remember wealth.  That’s what you’re missing.  Assets.  Your life should make sense again as soon as you hear that it takes $500,000 of assets to put you into the richest 1% worldwide.

How many little chart people would the U.S. get in this scenario?  37%, or 22 people.  The chart above was only off by 11%, but it completely missed the boat on Japan, which should have 16 people.  Anyway, what about the American 1%?  How much yearly income does it take to get in that club?  Well if you believe CNNMoney, they say it was $343, 927 in 2009, a measly 10 times what they were selling last month.

And before you think they might be trying to show both sides, note that this second article starts out by baiting you with the idea that it would take a million dollar income to be in the top 1%.  Surprise, you only need a third of a million!   Or, 37 times what the poorest 20% of Americans make on average, 14 times the next, 7.7 times the middle, and 4 times the fourth quintile.

As ThinkProgress would love to explain further, the American 1% owns 40% of the nation’s wealth, including 50% of all U.S. stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and takes home 24% of the nation’s income.

When it comes to world wealth, it looks a lot like yesterday’s map.

And back where we started, the crowd walks away wondering what it was all about anyhow.

[Map from World Institute for Development Economics Research via Gizmag]

Making Lemonade from an Old and Somewhat Flawed Map

We begin with a map.  A map from TD-Architects, which seems to have a lot of interesting content though remarkably difficult navigation.  A map that might be from 2006 or 2007 (or 2009?).  The source of the income data?  Unknown.

Anyway, the idea of the map is that 73% of the world’s income is being protected on all sides by walls or, as they are called, “heavily guarded border zones” in an effort to create the “greatest wall” ever built on this planet.  Go ahead, take a look…

(click to enlarge)

If you want get into the flaws of the map, reddit has conveniently ripped it apart on multiple occasions, including this 400+ comment thread.  The gist is that “heavily guarded” is an exaggeration, the selections are arbitrary, and there are plenty of wealthy areas outside these borders.  …  But is it still conceptually interesting?

While looking into the income data, it turned out that these countries within the so-called walled world match up with the World Bank‘s list of “High Income” members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  Since 1973, these countries have made 70-80% of the world’s income year after year, that is until 2006 when their percentage started to drop.  The situation really is changing, and as of 2010 the high income OCEDers were down to 63%, but the map really is a SNapshot Of Globalization, which is what TD’s SNOGs are all about.

Tomorrow we’ll use a somewhat flawed chart to take this a step further.

For more on those walls: DMZ, Australian Defense Force, Mexico-United States barrier, EU Maritime Borders, Melilla & Ceuta border fences, Schengen Area, Israeli West Bank barrier.

For more on the data: The World Bank is offering a killer 200,000+ line spreadsheet full of all kinds of data or if you’re more of a charts person, check it out via Google’s Public Data Explorer.

[Map via Information is Beautiful]

COICA. PIPA. SOPA. ACTA. TPP. Stop.

You know how in the movies the good guys have an initial victory, then the bad guys come back worse than ever, but though the odds are outrageous the heroes come back in the end with some insane plan to save the day?  Well, that’s what is happening this Saturday, February 11th.  Where?  Everywhere!


View ACTA Protests Worldwide – Brought to you by stoppacta-protest.info in a larger map

Who are the good guys and bad guys again?  To translate from above, the internet had an initial victory with the PIPA & SOPA copyright bills in the United States, but now there’s all kind of secret shenanigans going on internationally to push through trade agreements with the same absurdly overreaching copyright and intellectual property provisions as SOPA, just this time on a global scale.  For this round, the response is being led in Europe as the EU has not yet ratified ACTA.  The action, however, will be happening worldwide, with over 200 cities planning protest events.

In case you haven’t been keeping score, this is how the saga has progressed:

1 – COICA, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act – S.3804 – [Wikipedia|Bill Text] 2 – PIPA, or Protect-IP, Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act – S.968 – [Wikipedia|Bill Text] 3 – SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act – H.R.3261 – [Wikipedia|Bill Text] 4 – ACTA, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – [Wikipedia|Text] 5 – TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership – [Wikipedia|Text]

The timeline is the most shocking part.  COICA was introduced in September of 2010.  In 17 months, the entertainment industry and its faithful servant, the United States government, have managed to get three pieces of legislation shot down by overwhelming public opposition, yet still had the time and the nerve to try to get their way by bypassing every democracy on Earth.

In the U.S., Obama has already signed us on to ACTA, although that doesn’t mean it will stick.  As Digital Commons explains it, “The problem is that the President lacks constitutional authority to bind the U.S. to the agreement without congressional consent; but that lack of authority may not prevent the U.S. from being bound to the agreement under international law.”  Then again, Obama might be left holding the bag on this one, as Poland and the Czech Republic have now suspended their ratification of ACTA and the European Parliament is about to get an earful encouraging them to not even bother.

Now back to the movies.  Yes, you’ve already had to hear and do a lot about this crap, you’re tired, it’s Friday and you want to go home, but we can’t walk away yet.  There would be no entertainment industry if the heroes never finished the job.  Go ask a focus group.  We’ve got to see this through and it is going to require a little more effort.

What can you do?  Once again, Fight for the Future has everything you need at KillACTA.org.  Join in one of the events mapped above, sign the TPP petition and don’t hang up your spurs until you write your representatives about ACTA, which you can take care of right here, in Brainerd…

From KillACTA.org:

Stop ACTA & TPP: Tell your country’s officials: NEVER use secretive trade agreements to meddle with the Internet. Our freedoms depend on it!


For European users, this form will email every MEP with a known email address.
Fight For The Future may contact you about future campaigns. We will never share your email with anyone. Privacy Policy

Here’s to happy endings!

BFFs: A Look Through the Fannie Maze

In 2008, two institutions with profoundly unfortunate names were taken over by the federal government.  Known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they owned or guaranteed half of the entire U.S. mortgage market at the time and their subsequent rescue represented “one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets”… “in decades”.

Who were the captains of this Titanic?  Who let them behind the wheel?  Though not the most glamorous of posts, as government-sponsored enterprises, they were unsurprisingly stocked with people who were in the government.  Below we have a venn diagram (one from a larger set created by geke.us) showing a selection of people from both sides of the fence equation.

(click for venn diagram collection)

That’s the tip of the iceberg though.  Let’s see who on this list comes up in the NNDB Mapper, a very fun tool for mapping the links between people, companies and events ranging from Rihanna to the Funeral of Richard Nixon.

(click for NNDB interactive version)

Okay, we got 6 out of 13.  Above we have the connections they share.  Now let’s look at everyone associated with Fannie Mae.

(click for NNDB interactive version)

Mainly board members and CEOs.  But what happens if we blow out all of their nodes?

(click for NNDB interactive version)

We get a picture.  A picture of the myriad influences and connections that led to a spectacular failure.

The End.

[Venn diagram via Infoplasm]
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