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Friday, February 16, 2018

Why would Russia screw with THIS blog?

No doubt you are concerned by, or fascinated with, today's announcement that a grand jury has indicted a baker's dozen of Russians involved with election meddling. I'll have more to say about that as soon as I've scooped up and processed every morsel of relevant news. Right now, let's look at a "meddling" story that hits a bit closer to home.

Before we go further, let's get one thing straight: I have no illusions about this humble blog.

At one time, the readership was pretty sizable, but the days when Cannonfire could attract 70 thousand (sometimes a hundred thousand) pageviews are long past. About ten years ago, I privately determined a number below which this blog would shut down. We're way, way, way below that now -- in part because I refuse to touch social media, in larger part because I'm an ornery, unlovable recluse who disdains all groups and movements. Hell, all people.

So why go on? For a number of reasons. In part because a core readership remains. In part because of blind habit. In part because of what we might call "the Feynman principle."

Physicist Richard Feynman used to say that the best way to learn something -- to remember something -- is to teach it, even if your "student" is a figment of your imagination. You gain much when you try to explain a complex idea to someone who is not a specialist in your field.

In Big Bang Theory terms, picture Sheldon teaching string theory to Penny and making a conceptual breakthrough in the process. Right now, I'm Sheldon and you're Penny. In the comments, I'm Penny and you're Sheldon. If Cannonfire ended, both Penny and Sheldon would leave the stage and I'd be Stuart. A terrifying prospect. Thus, the-blog-that-should-die shambles on.

That's a humbling but necessary preamble to the problem I'd like to present here.

For a period of about a week, this blog became very difficult to access. One had to hit "Refresh" about four or five times to see the front page. This problem -- which didn't bother me overmuch -- ended a few days ago.

Mysteriously, Blogger's internal stats insisted that the readership had dramatically shot up. Even when I took a vacay from writing (around the time the Nunes memo came out), the numbers rocketed. Yet those pageview numbers had to be deceptive, since the number of comments had not increased in a commensurate fashion (as had been the case previously).

Moreover, traffic was coming from bizarre websites, such as a site for real estate in Montana. These sites did not link to any Cannonfire stories.

Blogger has a graph which reveals where the readers are located. In the past, the vast majority of hits came from the US (naturally), plus a smattering of views from other English-speaking nations, primarily the UK. Of late, I've been receiving thousands of views each day from Russia. Although I won't reveal exact numbers, the traffic from Russia has been positively freakish.

Cannonfire has also received a freakishly-large amount of traffic from such non-English-speaking countries as France, Poland and South Korea. Nothing of that sort has ever happened before.

I brought this matter to the attention of someone more technically savvy than I, who said that this issue sounds like "a standard DDOS can order them from Black Hat web sites or the Dark Web for not very much money nowadays."

"But why ME?" I asked, admitting that traffic for this site is far lower than was once the case.

The response: "All it takes is one guy willing to pay about $50/day to over-saturate your allocated bandwidth. It's that easy nowadays."

Me: "Jeez, why don't they just pay me 40 bucks a day NOT to write? I'll take it!"

Now, I don't think that it is quite so easy to pull off a DDOS attack on a Blogspot site, since the whole thing is owned by Google and Google is no pushover. My first suspicion was that someone from Russia had engineered this outbreak of oddness, since so many of the Mystery Pageviews come from that country. However, it is true that -- technically speaking -- a DDOS attack could come from anywhere.

Seriously, though: Why this site? To repeat: I have no illusions about the importance of anything going on here. Throughout most of the past year, I've mostly offered my two cents (or one Penny?) on the same news stories that everyone else has yammered about. I've not broken any new ground. Behind the scenes, I've been "kinda, sorta" working on a story that may break new ground, but I honestly don't know if that line of research will prove worthwhile.

So...what the hell is going on?

Fair offer: If anyone out there wants Cannonfire not to publish a story on any given day, just hit the the PayPal button. For the low, low price of forty bucks, you will buy complete silence from Joseph Cannon for a full 24 hour period. Open to negotiation. For the price of one of those Chinese knockoffs of the Cintiq graphic monitor, I'll stop writing for three weeks. (Not one of those really small monitors, mind you: even I have certain standards.)

It's legal and it's cheaper than hiring a DDOS guy.
What will domestic trolls do now the Russians have pretty much shoved them to oblivion?
I'm thinking back to 2008 and the Kossaks regurgitating republican canards about Bill&Hill.
Think noquarter got duped?
Thechdude a Russian?
So much for Larry Johnson's CIA chops.
Why your blog? You were the first one on the internet to call out the fact that Russia was actively interfering with the 2016 election. Of course you're the object of attention.
Geez, that wasn't investigative reporting. It was just an inborn sense of always-say-die pessimism, mixed in with a little paranoia.
Just don’t stop writing.
They think you're helping Mueller. Today's indictment called out the Russian Bernie bots. You were the first to call that.
Well that difficulty in access tweren't much.

Between your insights, reporting and editorial sense, plus the commenters, I've learned a lot here. A lot that was not obvious at the time.

A lot of operators don't like such activity.

Badge of honor.
I saw that exact thing here in the past few days.

I wondered what was going on. And kept refreshing, which got me through after a few times.

That seems like a very low grade blocking attempt, if a few refreshes gets through. So that is also odd, just as whatever was going on is odd. Your site forensic data is helpful additional information.


As I recall, your ability to think like Roger Stone was the keystone -- once on the right track,the subsequent pieces of the puzzle almost fell into place on their own.
Anyone who tells the truth these days will end up being someones target. There's no way to convey (when I can afford it, I'll try harder) how much I appreciate your blog. I've learned so much Master Joseph! Many thanks!!
You might consider that it’s Bitcoin blockchain mining.
@ AnAdmirer

Yeah, Joseph noticed that the same people who had worked Victor Yanukovych's campaign for the 2010 election in Ukraine, were working for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in 2017... WTF? An obvious red flag if you already know the history of the people involved. But you've got to know that stuff already to make the connections.
I had that problem last week too but it seemed to be wider than this blog, affecting Somerby's Daily Howler too. Also, are you aware that your blog is being blocked by software used by organizations to limit access to the web. It comes up as adult content/porn when I try to access it from places like Kaiser Permanente's open WiFi or my car dealership's wifi. So does Daily Howler. I assumed it was because someone didn't like your politics. The problem of being unable to load your webpages from the bookmark has gone away but you are still blocked various places.
I've noticed for a long time that if I visit a jew-hating website to try to keep up with their latest bullshit, Firefox puts a link-tile up on my splash screen. But after consistent visits,you never get featured by Firefox.

I remember significant work you did about Khashoggi and Bandar and Turki, and I wish that instead of vibrating to every transitory breeze you would engage in deeper work. Get back in touch with Hopsicker.

You never reviewed "The Post", for instance. It puts out there quite prominently the mysterious death of the Washington Post publisher a few months before JFK's assassination.

I guess the story goes that in a public event he started babbling about the influence of Mary Meyer on JFK, and he was shipped off back east in a straight jacket.

I would hope that you have assembled a competent research team by this time. I would encourage you to investigate more long-term stories. What we have today is all just distraction.

"I remember significant work you did about Khashoggi and Bandar and Turki, and I wish that instead of vibrating to every transitory breeze you would engage in deeper work. Get back in touch with Hopsicker."

In other words, you want me to strengthen the party of Trump.

I've been checking out the Qanon feed this morning. Saw a picture of Trump surrounded by JFK and RFK -- our martyred saints. Also lots and lots and LOTS of bullshit about MKULTRA.

There is no conspiracy theory the neo-Nazis can't put to their own uses. Their dupes don't care about what is true or what is false. They are fear-junkies who just want their rush.

That's something I have to come to grips with, as I head into the final stretch. I've wasted much of my life. I inadvertently helped, in my own small way, to create the monster that I am now, in my even smaller way, trying to slay.

Did I ever tell you that I knew John Judge, though not well? He didn't like me, of course: Nobody does. Last thing I ever said to him was that I thought his intentions were of the best, but that he was the warm-up to the very fascism he despises.

Those words pissed him off. I'm not sure he understood my meaning. The thing is, the same words apply to myself.
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