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Archive for February, 2013

[Unit] 61398, The New Number of The Beast

February 26th, 2013 16 comments

Earlier Black Phoenix wrote about the problem with Mandiant attributing the Comment Crew hacking to the Chinese military. The recent media frenzy around yet another “China hacking” story focused on a supposedly shadowy PLA military unit in Shanghai, Unit 61398, as the “state actor” behind the cyber attacks. Their primary source, Mandiant APT1 report, even cited the address of Unit 61398 central office as 208 Datong Road in Gaochao, Pudong.

Only problem is 208 Datong Raod is the address of a kindergarden run by the not-so-secret military unit, and is open to the public:

Star Baby review

– Here’s Star Baby, a preschool ratings site, giving Unit 61298 Preschool a favorable review:

http://www.starbaby.cn/jigou/1368-jieshao

– Here’s another preschool review site with photos of the potential “hackers”:

http://www.studyget.com/youeryuan/item-660.html

– No, this is not a picture of PLA hackers using children as human shields. The kindergarden was practicing emergency preparedness, probably in response to a school attack that occurred in China:

http://www.pudong-edu.sh.cn/web/pd/45322-450000032148.htm

Having never been to the place, I would conceed the nursery school COULD be a front for China’s premier cyber espionage center – saved the fact the school’s online registration information shows it is one of the schools in Pudong that accepts foreign families.

I hope cooler heads prevail. While it is reasonable to believe the Chinese probably is doing everything we’re doing, to pin this on the Chinese military requires more compelling evidence than bunch of toddlers running around.

The Problem of Cyber Crimes Is More Serious Than Conspiracy Theories (War on Hackers)

February 24th, 2013 6 comments

In my previous post, http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2013/02/how-to-hack-a-human-brain-from-experts-of-hacking/, I discussed the many flaws in the Mandiant Report on hacker group designated APT1.

Mandiant has responded to some of the criticisms, with the usual generalized responses of “we released our conclusion based on what we had.”

In other words, flaws are admittedly due to their jumping to conclusions.

Indeed, the Report from Mandiant read like a simple Conspiracy Theory, in that the only evidence of the Conspiracy is in circumstantial evidence.

By the same logic, virtually everyone can be found guilty of conspiracy of murder and theft, simply because there are murders and thefts near where they live.

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How To Hack A Human Brain, From Experts of Hacking

February 21st, 2013 5 comments

Answer:  With Knowledge, both Lies and Truths.  Every lie has some element of truth.  Every truth has some bias of lie.  Great lies appear more true than obvious lies.  Great truths appear more false than some lies.

A computer hack is a lie to a computer, disguised as a truthful command.  All lies, great or small, told to human beings, are designed to hack their brain in essence.

By that logic, we are all hackers.  We hack each other’s brains, sometimes with lies that others spread to us, to influence each other, for power, for personal gains.  Sometimes the truth hacks back.  Thus, knowledge and information simultaneously enlighten us and threaten us.

But in this philosophical turn of rhymes, it doesn’t matter whether one is told a truth or a lie.  One realizes that one is being hacked by information delivered by someone else.  It’s someone else’s truth or lie, designed to influence us.

If one allows the information to hack one’s brain, then one becomes a victim, a slave to someone else’s influence.

One’s ONLY defense is a security feature, a filter called Reason.  With Reason, we filter, decrypt, digest, break down the information into OUR own truths or lies.  Then, we have some control, we can choose to be UNSWAYED or UNINFLUENCED by the information bombarding us.

The ONLY achievable means of our own security in our own reason, is to be stubbornly refused to be swayed or influenced.  That is the ONLY true individuality.

***With that, I now apply my reasons on my latest refusal to be swayed or influenced.

How Many Chinese Hackers Can Dance In A Cyber Espionage Report?

Apparently, the answer is inevitably, a lot, because otherwise, who would bother to write a report about them?

If that sounds familiar, it is because you can apply that to just about any answer that’s begging for a pointless question.

That is to say, if you believe that there is a massive number of angels capable of dancing on the head of a pin, you don’t need any proofs.  Every thing will confirm your beliefs.

So, the same logic serves the report recently released by Mandiant.  http://intelreport.mandiant.com/Mandiant_APT1_Report.pdf  Which by the way, reads like rehashed media stories of equally questionable logic.  But somehow, if a bunch of tabloid reports are compiled, it would be too many coincidences, as the logic goes.

Granted, all governments are researching cyber warfare.  And so are many private individuals.  Some for noble causes, others for mercenary reasons.  But by the same logic, one’s reaction ONLY demonstrates one’s own basic belief in human nature.

Critics of the Mandiant Report argue similar general points.  http://www.voanews.com/content/china-russia-israel-france-iran-cyber-threat/1608419.html

I do not care to venture into what Mandiant’s report writers believes, but let us talk about some of their basic errors in their conclusions:  (And this may take a few days)

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Morally degenerate equivocators

February 19th, 2013 16 comments

This post is basically a followup on the few posts recently addressing the perceptions of the GLF in the west. I will not add to the debate per se or even defend the other posters but rather talk about how people in the west are treating like discourse, namely those that does not fall in line with the dominate narrative in the west, i.e., that Mao was a mass murderer that had killed more people than Hitler and Stalin. I will take as my main target a recent post on another blog because I think its contents and its comments are so exemplary of the type of ignorance, bigotry and bias facing anyone that dares to question the west’s perspective on anything. They are met with derision, marginalization, and every fallacy in the book instead of direct refutation and they are made by morally degenerate and intellectually dishonest individuals.

One such individual is Sam Crane who has a blog about China. In a recent post (which was inspired by “noodling around the internet”) in which he casually dismisses views that critically examines the thesis that the GLF wasn’t as bad as commonly portrayed in the western media and that Mao wasn’t the same kind of monster as Hitler, Stalin or the Japanese imperialists. He makes a long-winded post without actually refuting any specific individual or position (I wonder which positions and individuals he is referring to?). In fact he explicitly says he doesn’t want to address them specifically and the reason he gives for this is that this will give those perspectives more attention than they deserve. That’s convenient. Sounds like a classic cop-out of an intellectual coward to me. It’s easy to dismiss phantoms but much harder to refute actual arguments.

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Categories: aside, Opinion Tags:

More Sights from Maui, the “Valley Isle”

February 17th, 2013 4 comments

Following are mostly landscape shots I took today. Even though I came across great materials of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, I have decided to wait until I am able to do additional research before writing a post on him. So, for now, enjoy this set, from Maui, the “Valley Isle.”

Woman about to take a plunge at Hoopika beach

A woman about to take a plunge at Hoopika beach

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Categories: Photos Tags: , , , ,

On the Importance of Understanding Chinese Thoughts using Chinese Terminologies

February 17th, 2013 25 comments

Recently, Zack brought to our attention a great article at Asia Times by Thorsten Pattberg, who is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University. Pattberg dedicated his life to study Chinese philosophy, political thoughts, and culture in their original meanings. He concludes:

Western people are curious like all the people of the world. If someone gave them Chinese taxonomies, they would look them up, familiarize with them, and internalize them. They would stop calling a junzi a (British) “gentleman”, or a (German) “Edler”; instead they would call a junzi just this: a “junzi”.

To put “culture” back in a more economic perspective: Nations should compete for their terminologies like they compete for everything else.

I was too quick to disagree with the need for China to explicitly compete for her culture and for preserving her ideas in her own taxonomies, assuming a richer China will somehow automatically cause the problem to correct itself.  So, I was really happy today seeing perspectivehere chiming in on this topic and later on Allen giving a good gist on what this means for him. I recommend Pattberg’s article linked above in its entirety and of course  perspectivehere’s and Allen’s remarks below.
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Hawaiian Cliff Diving: a test of courage and loyalty

February 15th, 2013 5 comments

In 1770, King Kahekili dove 63 feet from the cliffs to the water at Kaunolu Bay on the southern tip of Lanai island. He forced his warriors to follow suit, to demonstrate courage and to show loyalty. Hence forth, cliff diving has become a tradition in Hawaii. Today, at the Black Rock beach adjacent to Sheraton Hotel on Maui, we got to witness this tradition in a short ceremony. The ceremony was performed during sunset and the effect was, in a word, dramatic.

IMG_2624
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Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on non-Contemporaneous Data

February 14th, 2013 11 comments

This is a followup on a previous post titled Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics.  In that post, I pointed out that the only systematic data available from the time (the census of 1953 and 1964) were such that they could neither support nor refute the hypothesis that millions upon millions died during the Great Leap Forward.  The claim that 15 or 30 or even 45 million people died – true or false – simply is not testable against the margin of errors inherent with the 1953 and 1964 census figures.

In a comment, long-time commentator jxie referenced some of the so-called “newer” research involving non-contemporaneous data that I want to quickly address in this post.  One thing I failed to address in my prior post is that since the mid 80’s – with the release of  data such as the Cancer Epidemiology Survey in 1976, the fertility survey of 1982 giving fertility rates dating back to 1940, and the re-release of the 1953 and 1964 census in 1982 where the population figures are broken down by age and gender groups (“cohorts”) – many researchers have claimed that they are able to prove how many millions actually died during the Great Leap Forward.  Various reputable scholars 1 estimated the death count to be anywhere between 20 to more than 45 million.  I want to address such studies, focusing in particular on Banister’s 1987 study that jxie cited.

Banister’s 30 Million Dead Hypothesis

Judith Banister is one of the most respected and prominent demographer in the West on China.  In what has become a classic book published in 1987, Banister estimated that some 30 million died during the Great Leap Forward (p. 118, Banister). Read more…

Notes:

  1. For a discussion how it is a mistake to defer the study of politically charged subjects to “scholars,” see Joseph Ball’s article titled “Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?” which I have linked in the previous post

Lahaina and a little bit of Hawaiian history

February 14th, 2013 5 comments

Lahaina is a gorgeous little town in the western part of Maui. Today, it is bustling with tourists. Shops and restaurants dot the water-front main street.

As I researched into its past, I am confronted with a number of emotions. Foremost, the aloha spirit is abound.  So far, we have met travelers from the mainland U.S., Germany, China, and even Lithuania.

The aloha spirit is contagious. People readily greet each other with smiles and take time to be curious, helpful, and generally pleasant. Drivers are usually not in the rush and waves at pedestrians to cross first. Read more…

Categories: history, Opinion, Photos Tags: ,

Greetings from the island of Maui

February 11th, 2013 6 comments

My family is currently vacationing in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. I might find inspiration in connecting Maui to China, but don’t hold me to it. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925) is locally known in Hawaii, because this is where he came for school. Even on the island of Maui, there is a small memorial park dedicated to him. Perhaps I will find time to pay it a visit. For now, a few shots near the resort where we are staying.  It’s been raining in this Western part of Maui and not a whole lot of sun left for the day.

(click image to enlarge)
Sunset on the beach is always spectacular, and tourists stick out like a sore thumb with their cameras. Yes, me included.


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Categories: Photos Tags:

Shaolin Temple USA Blessing Ceremony

February 10th, 2013 No comments

Exactly five years ago on February 3, 2008, Shaolin Temple officially opened it’s first branch in Fremont, California. Since then, branches in San Francisco and Herndon (Virginia) have been established. More will follow in coming years. At the 5th anniversary, I got to witness a Buddhist blessing ceremony. While I couldn’t comprehend everything, my understanding was that we should find inner peace and let go all that troubles us. Master Shi Yanran presided over the ceremony with California State Senator Leland Yee, Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, and other community leaders present to lend support. In the video below I caught up with Senator Yee on what Shaolin means for him. Rest are footage I took while observing the ceremony.


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Happy Chinese New Year

February 9th, 2013 4 comments

祝大家新年快乐, 萬事如意, 身体健康!  Today is the start of the Chinese New Year of the snake. Most families in China will be spending time together enjoying the festivities, including watching the Spring Festival show on CCTV. We are looking forward to the show as well since a local station rebroadcasts it. This time of the year in Northern California actually feels like spring. Winter months have brought much welcomed rain. Everywhere is green and lush. Some fallen leaves are still on the ground. This may be bit of an odd post, but I just feel like sharing pictures I took around the yard today. These were taken with a standard lens, so not as sharp as a macro lens.
IMG_1977
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Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Iran’s PressTV with U.S.-based political analysts on the Wallstreet-London financial empire nexus

February 6th, 2013 1 comment

Searching on “China” in Russia Today’s Youtube channel led me to the following video from PressTV, which towards the end, I then learned it’s an Iranian station. It features three panelists, all from the United States and the U.K.. They all seem to agree that the U.S., U.K., and Japan are hijacked by a Wallstreet-London financial empire nexus of sort. Most readers will find this conspiracy difficult to accept. I certainly hope that a nuclear war is not so imminent nor likely. While the main conclusions are questionable, the panelists do offer unconventional views (absolutely unvarnished). Perhaps they are right though: it is time citizens of the world unite! Read more…

Quick Survey: Have You Noticed a Server Performance Improvement Since Jan 31?

February 4th, 2013 5 comments

We made some server upgrades a few days ago, late of Jan 31, 2013 (U.S. Pacific Time).  The upgrades will cost DeWang and I a little more, but we can afford it.  Still we want to quickly survey our reader to see if you notice a performance improvement.  If you have or if you have not (and want to complain our server performance), please leave a quick comment or send us a private email.

Thanks!

Categories: Announcements Tags:

Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics

February 2nd, 2013 10 comments

[This is part I or a 2 part series on the underlying statistics  of the Great Leap Forward.  Part II can be found here]

Recently, Ray wrote a great post – and readers added valuable comments – that provided some contexts surrounding the Great Leap Forward.  When people discuss the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), the starting point is almost always the millions killed.  I want ask: how fair is that starting point? 1

In this post, I want to briefly focus on specific issue of the underlying statistics – and the often-made claim that millions and millions (I have heard upward of 70+ million!) died in the Great Leap Forward.

According to official Chinese data released in 1983, some 16 million died during the years of the Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1961). But how good is this number (or any other number)? Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags:

A Chinese reporter’s 5-minute speech on free thinking, activism, and improving society

February 2nd, 2013 3 comments

The following 5-minute speech is by 柴静, a news anchor in China. It’s in Chinese, but I enjoyed what she had to say. She recounts the people she’s met over the years and their unique stories of individuals fighting for rights, upholding law, and the need for free thinking. This is an example of a narrative for wanting to truly improve Chinese society. How different is 柴静 from the handful of ‘dissidents’ the Western press often champions for? They speak the same ideas, don’t they? Well, they indeed do. The striking difference though, which makes 柴静 an example of mainstream force of change in China, is that she does not whore to topple her own government and turn her society upside down. Read more…

Categories: Opinion Tags: