ODD: It Really Is a Thing

Published at 10:46 on 20 February 2023

… and it is not a viable political strategy. For those unfamiliar with this three-letter acronym, I am talking about oppositional defiant disorder.

Of course, any instance of behaviour classified as “a disorder” is subject to abuse by power structures, particularly one characterized as “arguing and defiance toward parents and other authority figures.”

The way to distinguish healthy skepticism of authority from pathological behaviour towards same is, I think, best epitomized by the old anarchist slogan: “Question authority.”

One is being advised to question authority. Not to reject outright, but merely to question. The answer to a question can be in the affirmative as well as the negative. It is entirely possible to question authority and come away with the conclusion that authority figures are being at least partially correct about something.

Consider the COVID-19 pandemic. Heading into it, there was already a large body of evidence and work by researchers in infectious diseases all pointing to the conclusion that a pandemic of some new disease was all but inevitable. Governments had long been planning for such a pandemic, and those plans had long advocated restrictions that would amount to a huge overnight change in daily life.

It was, in fact, obvious that COVID-19 was a pandemic before the authorities admitted it was so. In the earliest stages of the pandemic, questioning authority led me to conclude… that the pandemic was real and authority figures were refusing to acknowledge it was going on! It was also obvious that there would be various restrictions and disruptions to everyday life coming soon, once the crisis became too big to ignore.

Did it stop being a pandemic when the authorities bent to the inevitable? Having ODD leads one to one answer. Having an intelligent and healthy skepticism of authority leads one to quite another.

On All Those Objects Being Shot Down

Published at 12:13 on 13 February 2023

Obviously, something’s changed. We virtually never heard of spy balloons, then we hear about one, it gets shot down after being tracked across North America, and now suspected spy balloons are getting discovered and being shot down all over the map.

What has changed is unlikely to be the mere presence of spy balloons. We know this because it has already come out that what are now known to be, or strongly suspected to be, spy balloons flew over the USA under the Trump Administration.

The mere existence of spying is no great surprise. Nations have been spying on each other since literally forever, and aerial surveillance by superpowers against each other has been a thing at least since the USA got caught with its hand in the cookie jar by the USSR.

I suspect paranoia or at least some measure of it. There are a lot of reasons to launch unmanned balloons. Collecting upper atmosphere weather observations is one of them. It is not hard to come up with other ideas for research involving unmanned balloons. More than likely, some of those balloons which have now been downed (or will be downed in the near future) will be discovered to be innocent. More ominously is the possibility that some manned aircraft might get accidentally shot down.

Some probably are spy balloons after all. All I am saying above is that it is very likely that not all of the suspicious flying objects are there for espionage or other nefarious purposes.

Beau’s theory is probably a good one. Beau of the Fifth Column recently released a YouTube video where he speculated about the origins of the suspicious flying objects, and concluded that:

  1. There could well be multiple causes at play here, and
  2. It is likely that air defense systems have now been fine-tuned to detect and respond to such objects.

China has no grounds to complain about their balloons being shot down. Suppose for sake of argument it was just an innocent scientific research project. Well, why didn’t China then tell the USA and Canada that it had gone off course and was about to enter their airspaces? What did they think was likely to happen were such an unannounced balloon to be discovered? That an unannounced balloon would get shot down is just about the least surprising bit of news since the sun rising this morning.

But How on Earth Would Musk Do It?

Published at 08:25 on 9 February 2023

Elon claims to be restricting Ukraine’s usage of Starlink for drone purposes, and my question is the one I just posed in the title above.

Consider first of all that the internet protocol used for such purposes is almost certainly encrypted. Then consider that most internet traffic these days is encrypted. (Look at your browser’s address window. If it starts with “https:”, congratulations! You are using encryption.) So all that those drones are doing is passing streams of unintelligable (to others) gibberish over an Internet full of such streams of gibberish. Good luck filtering that out.

Now, encrypted Internet protocols don’t encrypt everything. It would be possible to use IP addresses and port numbers to filter out the offending packets. It is, however, a relatively simple matter to reassign both. Make a few software tweaks (this is all software, after all) and one could easily disguise everything as traffic between a browser and a web site. Again, good luck filtering that out, at least if you don’t want to cripple Starlink for its vast majority of (non-military) uses.

I think the only plausible theory is that the Muskrat is just blowing smoke. It all goes to show just how little this self-professed technological genius actually knows about the technologies the companies he owns uses. His role is that of a capitalist with money, not a technologist with ideas.