This Is What Incompetent Spy Work Looks Like

far from Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the typical position of a Western intelligence agent today appears to be jonesing from an ephedrine shot, huddled in fear behind the wheel of a just-crashed rental Kia, in a color-matching shirt to the vehicle he failed to take out, no less

to be fair, were I trying to take out a 4200lb iron-frame, iron-block Jaguar with a rented Kia head-on, I’d need an ephedrine shot too

our subject was kind (well, maybe just trained) enough to throw out his paraphenalia upon impact with another random car immediately ahead. click it:

bitch, n. “well, I mean it like the way black people use it, which is more meaningful, I think.” – Derek Zoolander

The Unified Theory Of Edward Snowden

we don’t take Edward Snowden very seriously

because he’s either a complete idiot or a CIA provocation

the human delineates possible scenarios along two lines: House Snowden and Field Snowden

“why are you using this terminology? it’s offensive!” kill yourself. Snowden’s a high school graduate and just a computer tech – not a high value or smart guy. he made a six figure salary due to the insanity of US Government largesse under an administration that was purposely bankrupting itself just to see if it could and stupidly gave up a great life he’d never have anywhere else.

the House Snowden possibilities are as follows:

  • CIA provocation 1: Snowden’s defection is done with his full collaboration from the beginning as a provocation for political purposes as different US government agencies attempt to rival each other for power and influence – in this case, perhaps to weaken the NSA. This is reasonably possible: all of the Bush administrations were seriously heavy on CIA influence, while Obama was a big NSA proponent (and had to be to keep the CIA under control)
  • OR: Snowden, having possibly run into some trouble due to political beliefs/leanings, defected due to fears in re: personal safety and weaved a post-hoc narrative in which he publicly gave up a bunch of mostly worthless information (most of which the human knew about already having simply grown up in a town that formerly housed a research facility for a major US tech firm) and used it to brand himself as some sort of freedom fighter, which he has more or less done successfully so far.

and now we come to Field Snowden:

  • CIA provocation 2: Snowden is the ultimate enterprise software salesman’s demo presentation. Having been gradually radicalized to extremist libertarian beliefs via poor education and resulting inability to meaningfully critique propagandistic content, he has surrounded himself with people who are demographically similar, hold simple worldviews, and only reflect his rigid and uninformed convictions about society. Much like Muslims who Western social media radicalizes in order to stoke the multiplier-based American economic demand model via terrorism, Snowden became radicalized as the result of a psy-ops experiment (much as many Muslim terrorists have) and only boarded a flight to Hong Kong instead of strapping on an explosive vest and boarding the NYC subway due to the ingrained expectations of white, suburban American corporate/government culture. His defection and revelations are worthless and the CIA intended for this to be the case from the beginning as a warning to the world of what they are capable of.

anyway, there he was, sitting in the HK airport

CHINA: “uh, we don’t want this guy. we’re good at this whole totalitarianism bit already, no need for another low-IQ white guy unless he has lighter eyes, sorry”

RUSSIA: “well we could take him. let him sit and stew in Sheremetyevo for a month or so, you know the drill, lace his meals at McDonalds and Sbarro with the laxatives we put in the beer at all the tourist places in Moscow to fuck with the foreigners, give him a media circus with some guy who wants to make a name for himself as a one-shot human rights lawyer then give him a government apartment in Podmoskovie and a data entry job at VKontakte or something, maybe a lifetime free pass on Aeroflot for the stripper too. then we can sit back and laugh when no one in America even listens to him.”

HK: “yeah, sounds good to us, I’d hate to do the same in the airport here, the bathroom custodian’s too nice a guy. thanks again.”

WHERE DID THE MODEM GO: A Pictorial History of 56k Modems

c’mere babe, check out my ten inch…modem

an US Robotics 56k modem circa 1995, to my knowledge the first available in the USA consumer market

 What does all this shit do?

  • Codec: man oh man, gotta translate all those annoying scratchy buzzy noises into zeroes and ones, gotta have a chip that can identify and create those noises & stuff
  • DSP: gotta take data from a PC and turn it into instructions for the codec to turn it into an annoying noise and vice versa
  • Flash memory: gotta have a place for the chips to remember what scratchy buzzy noise means what thing and how the chips have to talk to each other and stuff
  • SRAM: gotta have a place for the scratchy buzzy noise data to sit while the other chips sit around and figure out what they mean
  • CPU: Intel 80186, probable great-great-great-great-grandpa to the processor in the computer you’re using now, cuz you gotta have a chip to crack the whip on dem bitchez & organize the whole racket
  • Chipset: somebody gotta send and receive this shit through a serial port

by 1998, US Robotics had concluded it was less about the size and more about how you use it

So they put the CPU & chipset on the Same Freakin Chip & put it in, you know, a White Package

in 2000, US Robotics decided modems should be allowed to…get inside…computers…and…plug in

This joke has gone way too far, but in essence, access to the fast PCI bus inside the computer eliminated the need for a bunch of hardware that sets the timing for what data gets sent around when and allowed the modem to communicate with the rest of the computer more directly

2000 was a great year. Computers were getting more powerful and people started using D.S.L. and other…faster…ways of getting…online. Modems were unloved and sad and people found ways to make them cheaper, mainly by offloading processing tasks to the main CPU using software drivers

around the mid-2000s Agere & others decided it would be cool to offload the…tasks…to the main processor and basically just lie there, moving…data…occasionally

Was that another dick joke?

Then, processors with dedicated multimedia processing instruction sets, or motherboard chipsets with similar capabilities, meant that formal modem hardware to decode and encode audio really wasn’t necessary at all – just a riser card with a phone jack and some power hardware to take the voltage down to something that could be fed more or less directly into the I/O bus.


What did that mean in an historical context?

It meant that if you were a processor and/or chipset manufacturer, you could build an audio transceiver-based backdoor into hardware and allow security services to use it to screw governments and individuals you didn’t like. Go read my acoustic coupler post now and get into a Lotus position and meditate and pretend you’re one of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s nuclear engineers circa 2009 for awhile.

On Acoustic Couplers: A Kids’ Multiple Choice Mad-Lib

for Barron Trump, who apparently “can do anything with computers” -POTUS

This is an acoustic coupler, circa 1978.

Acoustic couplers were used to

  • communicate telepathically with rodents
  • let modems communicate over telephone lines using a regular phone handset
  • gradually make your toaster into a sentient being

Let’s get creative! Today, if you were an electrical engineering or computer security student and you wanted to make a proof of concept of a contemporary acoustic coupler, what might you easily do that with?

  • a banana and an angle grinder
  • a case of motor oil and a baseball
  • a new, noise-canceling cellular phone and a piezoelectric diode on a laptop motherboard

What do you think that would be able to achieve in terms of data rate?

  • pony express envelope speeds
  • can and string speeds
  • 56k modem speeds or even a bit higher

Now, think about this technology. What if it already existed dormantly in most consumer-level phones and computers?

  • pigs would fly
  • Subway sandwiches would no longer contain chemicals found in yoga mats
  • security services in Western countries might have the balance of power set quite a bit in their favor

What if it was time to sunset this technology, though, because it’s been replaced by something superior, and use its retirement for political gain? Would you:

  • choose a foreign manufacturer that is a major OEM for other brands anyway and won’t care, out their consumer-class hardware as containing unspecified “bloatware”, leave the feature on all the time and threaten lives/jobs/etc of anyone who figures it out,  so that smart-ish people can think they’re making a better choice buying a domestic brand even though this tech exists in basically all devices now, and so that IT people better understand that the major part of their job is shutting the hell up and that acoustic couplers are obsolete anyway
  • forget about it, grab a beer, and catch a Sunday Night Football game
  • both (choose very carefully here)

What else might you do, as one of the security services of a Western country?