In 1944, the CIA’s predecessor created the Simple Sabotage Field Manual (previously), detailing subtle and hard-to-trace ways for a sympathetic insider to subvert an enemy’s total war effort, from industry to transportation to communication. Charlie Stross and contributors in his comments section have brought Simple Sabotage into the 21st century.
How do you quantify the effects of things that don't happen to you? "The whole point of living in a culture is that much of the labor of perception and judgment is done for you, spread through media, and absorbed through an imperceptible process that has no single author." (previously; via)
The CIA’s WWII Guide to Creating Organizational Dysfunction Perfectly Describes Your Toxic Workplace (and the link to the full 1944 document at cia.gov)
Writing for Agence France-Presse, Rob Lever details the struggles of major news organizations and online content aggregators to keep comment sections from devolving into ‘pie fights’ at best to hateful and abusive at worst. Some sites have simply eliminated comments rather than deal with the negativity. In 2014, The New York Times and The Washington Post announced that they would form a partnership, the Coral Project, aimed at creating a commenting system that, “might diminish the ‘incentive to be the loudest voice’ and would foster communities of commenters[.]” [more inside]
TreeSheets is an open-source "Free Form Data Organizer" for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It's an outliner! It's a spreadsheet! It's a mind-mapping tool!
Elizabeth McIntosh died this week. She witnessed Pearl Harbor as a reporter (her account was too graphic to be published), worked for OSS in Asia, tried to go back to journalism, wrote children's books, and became an advocate for and historian about women in the OSS and CIA. [more inside]
Piggydb and Oinker.me: Non-hierarchical information tools from Japanese designer Daisuke Morita. [more inside]
Possibly the most loved and used fighting knife in the world, the Fairbain-Sykes Fighting Knife is a stilletto daggar designed and produced during WWII for commando troops and still used to this day. The knife was designed for a precise grip and a long thin blade that could go through a Soviet Army greatcoat to the ribs and slice, rather than tear, for faster death. The knife's history is worth a small book alone, but the two men who invented it also helped invent modern police fighting and close combat, and probably inspired Q from James Bond. [more inside]
DissidentX is a new steganography tool by Bram Cohen of BitTorrent fame designed to “vastly simplify the implementation of new steganographic techniques, and allow a universal decoder and encoding of multiple messages to different keys in the same file.” In particular, DissidentX allows encoding multiple plain texts into the same cover text with different keys, so called deniable encryption.
Ares was a science-fiction and fantasy-oriented game magazine that only lasted for 17 issues and two special editions in the early 1980s. Each issue included a short story, game reviews and designer's notes, plus a complete game. The magazine was first published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI), then TSR when they acquired SPI. TSR folded Ares into Dragon magazine, and finally killed off the line all-together. Recently, One Small Step Games has been talking about resurrecting Ares, but until then, Archive.org can take you back to the '80s, with scans of those issues to view and download. [more inside]
The FBI files on being and nothingness. "From 1945 onwards, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI spied on Camus and Sartre. The investigation soon turned into a philosophical inquiry…" [Via]
The United States' National Security organization has many parts, from the famous (NSA, CIA) to the mundane (OCI, NGA) to the more esoteric (NRO, CSS). But even the most dedicated Washington insider may not have heard of INR. [more inside]
TorChat is an instant messaging protocol based upon Tor hidden services, making it perhaps the only instant messaging protocol with any substantive resistance to traffic analysis. [more inside]
Git is the version control system that inspired social coding, music videos, and now a party game (pdf).
Derailing a train isn't as easy as you might think.  (Declassified WW2 OSS training video.) [more inside]
Operation Cornflakes was an action by the United States OSS in World War Two to distribute propaganda in Germany, using the Germany's own mail system with forged stamps and bombed mail trains.
An uncredited contributor to A Star is Born; a writer for Little Orphan Annie; the writer of Nuremberg and a writer of December 7th – both productions of the Office of Strategic Services documentary unit led by John Ford; author of a 1940s hit, What Makes Sammy Run? – the story of Sammy Glick (Shmelka Glickstein)'s rise from newspaper office boy to studio production chief – oddly enough also made into a musical. And, of course, the man who put the words "I coulda been a contender" into Marlon Brando's lips. Screenwriter Budd Schulberg dies today, five years short of a century.
Julia Child apparently liked to mix cooking and covert operations. What did the beloved chef have in common with Arthur Schlesinger and baseball's Moe Berg? A career with the OSS, that's what. The CIA precursor's papers have recently been released, revealing Child's involvement in the agency. [more inside]
Love is everyone. Love is a not so massively multiplayer game that uses Verse. Worlds are built on top of a procedural engine (like Spore) and content creation is done in real time. Someone recently took a look at Love and it was good. Did I mention it was open source? And written by one guy, Eskil Steenberg. [more inside]
A Technical History of Apple's Operating Systems – Amit Singh posts a free, 140-page PDF "bonus chapter" to his Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach.
Bogart not the OSS Open Source is cool. Not only is it free-for-you, but you're also entitled to commercialize it as long as you follow some fairly simple rules. Software company Maui X-Stream seems to have run afoul of not just one OSS project but many, cobbling together entire product lines out of free software and branding them as their own -- and then heartily denying it. (More Inside)
Independent coders remake Origin's Privateer. Once upon a time, Wing Commander and Free Enterprise had a beautiful baby. Then the dastardly Electronic Arts killed Origin Systems, the maker of the Wing Commander and Privateer series. The townspeople trembled in fear. From where would come their salvation? Sure, they had Freelancer, but you couldn't even use a joystick with that game! For a long time, it looked like the decent HOTAS and Sci Fi loving populace would be doomed to wander stickless through the desert of action oriented Space Simulation games, when Lo! from the far away land of Independent Game Makers came the 1.0 release of the Privateer remake for Linux, Windows and OS X simultaneously. And the people played it, and it was good. [via /.] [more inside]
The Pond is the history of a secret, independent US intelligence-gathering group which preceded (and outlasted) the OSS. Shuffled from Cabinet to Cabinet to the CIA, it eventually ran aground against the infighting of McCarthy's Red Scare hearings and was no more by 1955.