Saturday, January 15



Photo posted at Twitter by Tracy-Ann Oberman. 

Friday, January 14

WSJ: How TikTok's algorithm figures you out UPDATED 6:00 PM

The Chinese company that owns the 'addictive' social media site TikTok didn't want to reveal their secret algorithm. So, the Wall Street Journal formed a team of investigative journalists to figure out the algorithm and how it works to hook viewers. What the team discovered makes for one of the most important and disturbing investigative reports of this century.  

In addition to the following Wall Street Journal 13-minute video explainer see How TikTok Serves Up Sex and Drug Videos to Minors - WSJ, September 8 report.  But it's much more than sex and drugs.  The TikTok algorithm is a kind of blueprint for controlling billions of people without the use of secret police and messy mass executions.  It is a totalitarian government's dream come true.  From the September 8 report:
The addiction machine

An earlier video investigation by the Journal found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what a user wants: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or re-watch, the app tracks you.

Through that one powerful signal, TikTok can learn your most hidden interests and emotions, and drive users of any age deep into rabbit holes of content—in which feeds are heavily dominated by videos about a specific topic or theme. It’s an experience that other social-media companies like YouTube have struggled to stop.

“All the problems we have seen on YouTube are due to engagement-based algorithms, and on TikTok it’s exactly the same—but it’s worse,” said Guillaume Chaslot, a former YouTube engineer who worked on that site’s algorithm and is now an advocate for transparency in how companies use those tools. “TikTok’s algorithm can learn much faster.”


So what is to be done, beyond attempts to hound TikTok brass and the millions of contributors to the site to more closely monitor content posted on the site? 

First, learn from the WSJ video how the algorithm works. Second, realize that the algorithm is an inevitable progression in the abuse of technology to stealthily manipulate behavior. 

There is no getting the genie back in the bottle; it's too useful to too many individuals and organizations. However, this particular genie has an inherent weakness; it depends entirely on the user; don't use and the genie vanishes. 

There is also a way to flummox the genie, which is what the WSJ team did to probe TikTok's secret. Actually, there would be several ways to screw with the algorithm, and you may trust that hackers are already at work on strategies. 

But this doesn't deal with the fact that millions of people want the kind of feedback TikTok use provides. Even when warned of the dangers, they'll keep coming back for more.

There might be at least a partial solution to the problem.  I'll discuss my idea in the next post. Speaking of outfoxing the system, see Remote workers are using this viral ‘mouse movers’ hack on the job ( Yes indeed, where there's a will there's a way.  [smiling]  

Friday, December 31

Oh What a Night For Dancing!

 We made it through! HAPPY  NEW  YEAR !

Sunday, September 5

"Resistance Forces in Afghanistan Regain Control of Highlands in Panjshir"

KABUL (Sputnik) - The Spokesman for the Panjshir Resistance in Afghanistan, Fahim Dashti, said that the resistance forces had regained control of the Paryan highlands in the eastern part of the province.

"The Paryan district of the Panjshir province was completely cleared of the Taliban [a terrorist group banned in Russia]. At least 1,000 terrorists were blocked. All militants were killed, surrounded or captured by resistance forces during attempts to escape and retreat. Most of the prisoners are foreigners, mostly Pakistanis," Dashti wrote on Twitter.


 Resistance Forces in Afghanistan Regain Control of Highlands in Panjshir - Sputnik International (

Saturday, September 4

Panjshir Reports

FDD Long War Journal's Bill Roggio talked about the Panjshir situation on the John Batchelor Show for CBS last night. They emphasized the importance of the terrain for defense. Podcast: 

See also this September 2 report at LWJ by Bill and Andrew Tobin, National Resistance Front repels multi-day Taliban  assault on Panjshir | FDD's Long War JournalThe second video in the report, showing what are obviously Al Qaeda fighters  in a pickup truck headed for Panjshir, is the one Bill mentioned during his talk with John.   

Also, today Sputnik reported on developments including these two items:

Posted at 14:42

Taliban Offensive in Panjshir Reportedly Slowed Down by Land Mines

The offensive of the Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) against the capital of Afghanistan's northeastern province of Panjshir has been slowed down by land mines, Al Jazeera reported on Saturday, citing a source in the radical movement.

Landmines are said to be placed on the road to the capital city of Bazarak as well as the provincial governor's residence.

According to the broadcaster's source, the offensive and demining are being conducted at the same time.

Panjshir is the stronghold of the National Resistance Front, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of late ex-Afghan guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and ex-Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself caretaker president. Massoud pledged to step down in case the group forms an inclusive government and guarantees equal rights for all Afghans.


Posted at 17:29

Panjshir Resistance Forces Say About 600 Taliban Militants Eliminated

Roughly 600 militants from the Taliban (terrorist movement, outlawed in Russia) were eliminated in Afghanistan's northeastern province of Panjshir on Saturday, the Afghan resistance forces said.

"About 600 Taliban terrorists have been liquidated in various districts of Panjshir since morning. More than 1,000 Taliban militants have been captured or surrendered themselves," the resistance forces' spokesman Fahim Dashti tweeted.

The spokesman added that the Taliban had problems with getting supplies from other Afghan provinces. [...]

There are more updates in the report.    

Live Updates: Panjshir Resistance Forces Say About 600 Taliban Militants Eliminated - Sputnik International (

Re the mine clearing, one of Amrullah Saleh's posts to his Twitter page on Sept 3:

Talibs have blocked humanitarian access to Panjshir, do racial profile of travelers, use military age men of Panjhsir as mine clearance tools walking them on mine fields, have shut phone, electricity & not allow medicine either. People can only carry small amount of cash.

 Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) / Twitter

At seems some of the electricity was knocked out by Taliban shelling during fighting, at least according to the power company spox. From an earlier Sputnik report: 

08:07 GMT 03.09.2021 Sputnik live updates on Panjshir resistance
10:00 update:

Afghanistan’s northern province of Panjshir and parts of Kapisa province were left without electricity after at least two electricity pylons were destroyed in a shelling during the continuing clashes, local power utility company DABS said on Friday.

“As clashes continue on the Panjshir road, two electricity pylons were destroyed … as they were hit by an artillery shell. which resulted in power outage in the province,” DABS said in a statement, adding that some districts across Kapisa were also affected.

DABS staffers are ready to begin technical effort to restore electricity as soon as “suitable conditions are in place,” the company added.

Related news

TTG, at Col. Lang's Turcopolier site, features news about a PBS Frontline documentary,  What Is the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Why Does It Make the Taliban Nervous?

What Is the Fatemiyoun & Why Does It Make the Taliban Nervous? (

 The Hazara and the Liwa Fatemiyoun - TTG - TurcopolierTurcopolier

Also, this report published August 29

India rethinking strategy on Afghanistan; changing situation challenging: Rajnath Singh | NewsBytes (

... Speaking on Afghanistan, [Defense Minister] Singh said, "The changing equation in Afghanistan is a challenge for us... These situations have forced our country to rethink its strategy. We are changing our strategy and the formation of QUAD underlines this strategy."Singh said the Centre is considering forming Integrated Battle Groups, which will facilitate faster decision making and increase the number of integrated fighting units. ...

India is in a difficult position, as this tough-minded analysis explains:

India Poised to Lose Influence in Afghanistan – The Diplomat

We'll see whether Singh can pull a rabbit out of a hat.  


Monday, August 30

Latest AP summary of current conditions in New Orleans after Ida exits

No evidence yet of feared catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and at this it looks as if the levees held for the most part, especially the federally built one. Only one fatality recorded as yet, although officials warn the count could rise.

The rest is is wall-to-wall bad news. 

Hurricane Ida traps Louisianans, leaves the grid a shambles ( 

AP report filed 25 minutes ago.