Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Guest Post by Richard Spitzer - The Margin of Error War

The 2016 Presidential election exposed the cyber-war waged by the adversaries of the United States.
How did it happen?   How did we let it happen?  What did we miss?
Cyber-defenses must be developed now to prevent the 2016 cyber-attack from repeating in the 2020 election. But if we don’t understand how our adversaries succeeded, countermeasures will not be effective.

We thought we knew a lot about cyber-war, but our adversaries knew more. We did not recognize the subtle aspects of the new “information-terrorism” war. What exactly did Russia and China do? How did we miss it? What can we do to fight the new cyber-information war?
How could I analyze all the information? We know what happened in the 2016 cyber-attack, but what were the conditions that led to that event ? My practical approach was to reverse engineer the known events and work backwards over the long history of US vs. Russia and China conflicts.
My research process was similar to the crime mysteries from TV, movies and books. The story opens with the discovery of a crime. The detectives investigate the scene, look for clues, motives and possible suspects, backtracks every possible step that led up to the crime
The Margin of Error diagnosis is similar to the criminal investigation, but we are starting with far more information than a typical crime story. We know:
ü  The crime: the infiltration of digital news and  social media with fake information and hacking  of the 2016 presidential election.
ü  The perpetrators: the adversaries of the United States, primarily Russia, China and to a lesser extent, Iran and North Korea.
ü  The likely motives: the malicious intentions of our adversaries  for economic, political and global influence, and to harm the United States and  the 2016 presidential election.
ü  The obvious weapons used in the crime: mass media, social media, hacking of digital files.
ü  All the basics of the crime have been confirmed by the first investigation teams and the  U.S. intelligence agencies about the scope and actions of external “meddling” in the U.S. elections.
So, our mystery is not a whodunit, or why they did it, or what weapons were used.
Our mystery is how the cyber- weapons were brought into our space undetected and used so effectively.
The second familiar crime concern – is the perpetrator still at large ? Are we still at risk for another similar crime? The answers are yes.
The Margin of Error War diagnoses the long-term war against the US and the 2016 turning point, when we lost the first epic cyber-battle of the 21st century. Russia, and friends, found the subtle and unrecognized techniques to manipulate the news and voters – right in front of us– to shift political polls, in critical areas, just enough, within the “margin of error”.
The internet has leveled the global battlefields. All combatants now have the same capabilities to wage cyber-war using unregulated digital media. And digital communications technology has advanced far faster than our systems to ensure their safe and legitimate use.
Our adversaries did not have to use the digital media to influence every vote in America, their plan was simpler and easier. The basic strategy had two components that we missed in real-time:
·         Aggravate and accelerate every conflict that was already present in the US, to increase divisiveness.
·         Change the minds of just 2% of the people, in critical states. The elections in three states, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were each decided by less than 1%. Our adversaries were able to manipulate news and opinions, nudge just enough votes to be undetected, because the shifts in the political polls were “within the margin of error”.

We have one more chance before 2020 to get the cyber-war right.
We have a government and professionals who have the knowledge to develop the hi-tech cyber defenses. But we also need new information defenses that will give us more confidence in the credibility of the news and the providers.
There are regulations for accrediting or  inspecting food, airplanes, water, colleges, almost everything in our life to help ensure they are safe and accurately presented. But we have no standards for the critical news that affects our lives. We can develop the standards to make sure that most news and political polls provide the most accurate, reliable and honest information possible.(Yes, can stay within First Amendment rights).Two things we can do now:
·         Create an accreditation system for news and information providers. No one will be prohibited from publishing news, but accreditation will be an additional step for sources that want to be acknowledged as willing to meet standards of transparency and legitimacy.
·         Develop robust standards for political polling. General practices are currently observed, but they are insufficient to ensure that surveys and political polls are designed and conducted to minimize bias and help make them more comparable. The disclaimer of poll results must be sued recognizing  the “margin of error”, is not a safeguard, its an excuse.

You have to judge what you believe about our diagnosis and proposals, but you can’t disagree with the current state of global conflicts. The conflicts are real; the identities of terrorists are not in question. Most of the tools, tactics and actions are documented. This book is about how it happened, how easily it happened, and what we can do while we still have time to combat our adversaries and preserve America institutions and democracy.
Yes, the truth can be more alarming than fiction.

Available on    Amazon

Richard Spitzer   

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Guest Post by Albert A. Bell, Jr. : Death by Armoire

I have been reading mysteries since I was in seventh grade. I started with the inevitable Hardy Boys and Perry Mason. At some point I picked up a Nancy Drew. Yeah, I know, teenaged boy reading a book aimed at girls. But I read Little Women, too. And I will admit, in public for the first time, that I cried when Beth died.

Over the years I have read all kinds of mysteries, but my favorites have always tended to be the cozies. They involve an amateur sleuth, preferably a woman, who investigates a murder which the police don’t think is a murder. They’re set in a knitting store, a library, a bakery, or some other environment that we usually associate with women. The Hallmark Channel now offers a series of such stories, although I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more of Lori Laughlin’s “Garage Sale” movies. There are an amazing number of these cozy mysteries available today. I may offend some readers by saying that I do not like ones where cats, dogs, or ghosts help to solve the mystery.

I had already published several books in a series of mysteries set in ancient Rome when I decided to write a cozy, set in an antique store. Death by Armoire was inspired by memories of my grandfather’s antique/used furniture store in a small town in South Carolina. Maureen Cooper is a ghost-writer, penning books for celebrities. She likes that quiet, below-the-radar life. Then she learns that her ex-husband, Troy, has been found dead in the store, crushed by a large armoire that apparently tipped over him. It’s ruled an accidental death. But someone breaks into the store and goes through the armoire and other pieces of furniture that came from the same set. What were they looking for? Was Troy’s death really accidental?

As she tries to answer those two questions Maureen uncovers secrets about her family and her hometown that change her whole outlook on who she is. She has a dog, Pepper, who was Troy’s support dog, but he offers no help in solving the case.

When I was finished with the book I wasn’t looking forward to the whole process of finding a publisher. It can take a couple of years to get through that ordeal. I’m lucky to have an excellent publisher for my Roman mystery series in Perseverance Press, but they’re small and did not have room for another title in their list. I decided to do something I’ve often criticized people for: I self-published the book. It had gone through the vetting process of my writers’ group and a friend who is a free-lance editor, so it wasn’t as though no one had worked on it.

Once the book was published, I saw a notice about Writers’ Digest’s contest for self-published books. I entered Death by Armoire and WON the genre fiction category. I’m waiting for movie offers and other sorts of acclaim to come my way. Surely, soon.

You can find more information about this book and my other books at my website:

Death by Armoire by Albert Bell Jr.

I love everything about my house, but the one part that I would never give up is the front porch. The builders of big old Southern houses like mine, which goes back to 1887, understood the importance of a porch. My house, a joyously gaudy Queen Anne, faces east, with a huge magnolia tree and an ancient oak—and thus very little grass—in the yard, and the porch runs across the front and halfway back along both sides. On the south side there’s a large swing mounted from the ceiling.
At the northeast corner the porch bulges out to create a circular area where I have a table and chairs, the same table and chairs my mother had when I was a little girl growing up here.
Because of the conical shape of the roof over this area and the black shingles, I dubbed it the Witch’s Hat when I was a child, and the name stuck. It’s the perfect place to eat breakfast on a summer morning, as I did so many times as a child, as I did with my children, and as I was about to do now.
But now everything’s different. My children are grown, my mother died eight years ago, my father a year after that, and my cheating ex-husband Troy died a week ago.
As I arranged my breakfast on the table, Troy’s companion dog Pepper trotted up the steps and plopped down on his haunches next to me. I gave him the extra slices of bacon I had fixed, and they disappeared in two gulps. Pepper is a five-year-old Gordon Setter. Everybody thinks he’s named Pepper because of his color—the black that’s typical for a Gordon—but his name is actually short for Sgt. Pepper, after Troy’s favorite Beatles’ album.
Neither of my children can have a dog in their apartments—and Pepper’s too large for their apartments anyway—so I had to take him in. Gordon Setters are known for their loyalty and good nature. Pepper actually excels Troy in both those categories, but we’re still trying to figure out our relationship. I’ve never been a pet person.
My cell phone rang and I cursed myself for putting the thing on the tray when I came out here. Force of habit. It was my agent, Dave Siegler. I wasn’t sure whether he was calling about the book I was supposed to have finished this week or about the proposal he emailed to me on the day Troy died. We had talked once earlier in the week, when I called to tell him about Troy’s death, but we hadn’t discussed business, of course. I guessed he had waited as long as a New York agent could contain himself.

Albert Bell

Albert A. Bell, Jr discovered his love for writing in high school, with his first publication in 1972. Although he considers himself a “shy person,” he believes he is a storyteller more than a literary artist. He says, “When I read a book I’m more interested in one with a plot that keeps moving rather than long descriptive passages or philosophical reflection.” He writes books he would enjoy reading himself.

A native of South Carolina, Dr. Bell has taught at Hope College in Holland, Michigan since 1978, and, from 1994 - 2004 served as Chair of the History Department. He holds a PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as an MA from Duke and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to psychologist Bettye Jo Barnes Bell; they have four children and two grandsons Bell is well-known for the historical mysteries of the series, Cases from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger. Corpus Conundrum, third of the series, was a Best Mystery of the year from Library Journal. The Secret of the Lonely Grave, first in the series of Steve and Kendra Mysteries for young people, won a Mom’s Choice Silver Medal and the Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Award.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Guest Post by Tally Adams

Shadow Pact by Tally Adams – Blog Post

I learned at a young age my imaginary friends weren't like everyone else's. Mine didn't go away as I got older, for example, and they were always running around in the back of my mind in 'what if' scenarios. In my preteens, I learned to channel them into words and gave them delightful tales to get them out of my head for a while. By the time I was 11, I'd begun to enter adult writing competitions and managed to win a few. Stories of adventure and overcoming all odds held my attention, and I started reading about heroes in mythology. (How can a person ever go wrong with Hercules?) Before long, I couldn't get enough! I spent the next few years reading everything I could find on mythology from all over the world.
Then, sometime in my teen years, I discovered Johanna Lindsey and her Fabio-laden book covers. For a while, mythology was all but forgotten as I disappeared into romance. It didn't take long to realize different writers had very different takes on what makes a good romance. Some of them had the classic wilting-flower heroine, while others portrayed women who were adventurous and daring. Eventually, I found Laurell Hamilton and realized both of my passions could exist in a single story. From there, Shadow Pact was off and running.
I would soon learn, however, that finding a publisher who was willing to tackle a new no-name writer was far more challenging than writing. Since my imaginary friends were already stirring and the next book was coming together in my head, I decided to self-publish Shadow Pact and move on in the series.
Before I knew it, Amazon wasn't able to keep up with the orders and I found myself needing to produce faster than the print-on-demand model could offer. After a little thought (okay, a lot of thought), I decided to find a small print press in Dallas and have a number of copies made. Brown Books came up on my search for phone numbers and I called them to place an order for distribution. I explained what I needed and why and was told by the receptionist there was someone I needed to talk to. That's when Tom Reale (President of Brown Books) got on the phone. I rattled off my situation and asked for a price on a print run. He started to laugh and said, "I'm not a print press. I'm a publisher, and I want to see this book." The next thing I knew, Brown Books had taken me under their wing and Shadow Pact was released nationally, reaching far more readers than I'd ever dared to hope. Now, with the backing of a terrific team, Shadow Pact is gaining in popularity and starting to carve a place for the rest of the Immortal Romance Series. For anyone who loves adventure, a dab of magic and a dose of romance, check out Shadow Pact!   

Reviews and blurbs for Shadow Pact

Shadow Pact is a dark fantasy about Emily's quest to find her missing sister Amber, which embroils her in an ongoing supernatural conflict between vampires and werewolves. The handsome vampire-werewolf hybrid William rescues Emily from a dire situation, but far greater dangers await - a sinister vampire queen, a blood-crazed Coven, a werewolf king greedy for power, and more. Exciting to the very end, Shadow Pact is a ‘must-read’ for connoisseurs of the genre, highly recommended.”
-          Midwest Book Review

Tally Adams lives in Texas with her husband and four children (and one big, fat English bulldog). She's been writing all her life, realizing at a young age the characters just swirl around maddeningly in her head if she doesn't put them on paper. She began participating in adult writing competitions before she even hit her teens. Years later, she worked as a nurse and continued to write. Finally, she decided to move forward into the world of publication and share her imaginary friends with the world.

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