So Shareef’s been hacking into our business. Doing more than changing Petraeus’ Facebook page status to ‘backed up’.
Naturally, many of us (us meaning the Stiftung and an unholy consortia of military industrial, networking, technology and software ‘patriots’) spoke openly about the dangers of easily hacked tactical airborne intelligence (video and otherwise) to anyone who would listen in OSD, including Ron Sega among many others. To paraphrase ‘Apocalypse Now’ ‘we warn you long time.’ It wasn’t even mostly altruism. For contractors and government sales reps it’s always mercenary – there be gold in dem der hills, me buckos. Especially in selling worst case scenarios. Although to be fair, even if the contractors had been on the the level more than 50% of the time it wouldn’t have mattered. Rummy’s OSD culture was insultingly impatient and contemptuous for ‘planners’ talking about ‘consequences’. No coordination. Everyone wanted in the game. Fast action/fast kill. Warnings? Clintonian, Democratic (CIA, too) defeatism. Pre-911 wimps.
We have to laugh. Iraqi insurgents seeing what Uncle Sam saw in real time for about $30 – and we doubt they bothered with licensing issues. That $30 probably covered software for a province or two and all of China. So many people scrambling post 9/11 trying to get COTS (commercial off the shelf) tech to the warfighter. No understanding that COTS leveled the playing field. Or that the enemy likely could get and use COTS faster than DoD. At least in meetings we attended various entities pleaded to meet the smallest, newest, oddest (to them) start ups. And weaponize the shite out it yesterday. It’s no wonder Iraq turned into the nightmare Radio Shack. You know, the one where all the 8 year old boys try to fly their radio controlled helicopters on the same channel? While the ten year olds 2 aisles over swamp the frequency with their Optimus Prime voice changers, etc.
Encryption we learn didn’t *start* until April of this year. It’ll take years to sort out and debug the frequency spectrum utilization issues. Meanwhile, we’ve been operating this particular unit while knowingly compromised. It defies — no, wait, in fact it is perfectly believable and par for the course. Rest assured that all platforms and all frequencies and all data networks are ‘fixed’. A long time ago. You’d be a normal American if you asked ‘ Why should they be any more competent in this particular case?’ It does make one feel a little less like Festivus.
Inept U.S. planning, execution and operational security since 2001 have allowed the Russians, Indians, Iranians and Chinese to go to school against us tuition free. In many ways. This drone matter gave them an open seat along side part of our our decision loop, shoulder to shoulder. This breach was low level. The Russians, Iranians, Chinese et al. would attack the riotous other less than secure targets in more sophisticated ways. One must presume Al-Qaeda least audited the drone hacking course. Not to mention Iraqi high school kids. God help us when we reap the whirlwind.
Some personal Bunker administrative notes follow. If that’s extraneous arcana then by all means punt.
First, D.C. according to reports is due a 20″ snow storm. 3 snow flakes normally brings the city to its knees. We’ve not sure what to expect. Could cannibalism break out? Savage, crazed clawing for the conch, the contenders standing atop a mound of trampled Liberty University interns? With Michael Steele screaming ‘What up?’ Crisis brings out the truth in one’s soul. We expect primeval bone smacking and bellowing in front of black obelisks (road condition signs). Our waning interest in ‘Avatar’ just got up and . . . waned.
Second, we may or may not post. It’s not a question of Comcast shutting the Stiftung down for being mean to Rachel Maddow. We decided to completely re-think the Bunker’s affiliate studio, Bunker Studio & Sound, LTD (BS&S). A snow storm offers the ideal chance to brain storm.
BS&S exists for the sole purpose of writing, demo-ing and recording audio-visual multimedia to further the ideas/ideals of our cozy family here. The staples are covered. Birthers? Check. Sanford and C Street? Rick Warren? Check. And so on. We also have projects on the burner. The Conrad Incarceration Blues could be a winner. And other hard to find gems like Jonah and the Whale. Our tools are pretty basic: American Standard Strat, SG Special (3 humbucker), MIDI trigger keyboards, microphones, etc. BS&S reported to shareholders it would produce an EP, 4-5 songs by Q4 2009. To support the mutlimedia we envisioned intended two different approaches:
1) directly feed the guitars into a computer via a pre-amp to digital audio workstation software. We use Apogee and Apple stuff. Many swear by Pro Tools or Cubase, etc. The software ‘models’ various amps and effects; and
2) use a small, live traditional ‘amp’ with a microphone placed near it (say a Shure 57) to capture a non-synthetic amp sound.
Earlier we wrote how happy we were with a small Fender tube amp. Tubes give guitars ‘warmer’ tones. The Fender added microchip modeling after the tube signal. It could ‘pretend’ to sound like an 1990s alternative band, 80s New Wave, etc. It’s real forte was simply sounding like itself. It’s not powerful. It’s easy to mike, use and tuck away.
A couple of problems emerged, delaying BS&S LTD. First, the Fender amp couldn’t handle the SG Special III. It’s LOUD even for an SG. Gain and volume down don’t help. The Strat naturally is fine – single coil pickups out to a Fender amp. Plus, if we want to cheat? We’ve been known to blend in a Pod for 100% synthetic effects. Fake, simulated sound is ideal for say a fake, simulated grass roots movement? So you see where we’re going with this.
BS&S got a new 100% tube set up. We like it but are still unsure. The new rig is an Egnater 30 watt head and a 12″ cab (cabinet speaker). It’s got two channels and that’s about it. Dear Reader, it’s not perfect. We’d love to offer perfection. Compared to other famous tube amp heads, it’s got physically smaller Chinese tubes (you can see them in the photo). It’s loud. We’re not wedded to it but will play more over the weekend. Of course it’s much bigger than the mini-Fender. Jennifer Granholm would be proud. Egnater is headquartered in Michigan. They foster a custom ‘design’ rep. This rig? Made in China. Who do they think they are? Apple? First note to Governor Granholm — get Egnater to move those jobs back to frickin’ Michigan! These are assembly jobs. No rocket science here.
Egnater also appears to consume hallucinogens with breakfast. In overly exuberant marketing, the claim is this modestly sized rig in the pictures above actually is as subjectively loud as a 100 watt amp with four 12″ speakers. You know, the ones on stage for an ice hockey arena gig. Egnater’s ‘dirty channel’ can give that sub-audible kick in the chest. But it’s no where near close. Second note to Governor Granholm – advise the few companies making a go of it in Michigan like Egnater to embellish less.
And therein lies the rub. It feels at least of this moment a compromise. 30 watts is sufficient to give loud drive to a certain point. But 30 does not have enough ‘headroom’ (power to spare) for really clean, effortless, non-distorted ‘punch.’ If Egnater weren’t hallucinating, they’d know the difference with say the old 100 watt DR-103 Hiwatts. So this middle ground feels like a void. If 30 watts is probably too much for the BS&S LTD studio, it’s obvious that a stadium-filling Hiwatt rig is pure vanity/insanity. Still we would abuse TARP money like Wall Street and snag an old DR-103 in a Goldman Sachs minute. And send thank you cards to Timmy, Bernanke, the taxpayer and our Chinese overlords.
We’d be curious what thoughts you might have, Dear Reader. Any experiences or preferences you’d care to share are welcome. As always.