Staying Safe in Public Spaces

Bayard & Holmes

With the increasing number of terrorist attacks around the world, the public is becoming ever more aware that it’s wise to take precautions and think about safety measures. Today we welcome former CIA officer Doug Patteson of Inglorious Amateurs, who shares his insights and advice on precautions we should all take as a matter of habit.

 

Staying Safe in Public Spaces

~ Doug Patteson

Whether it is the recent suicide bomb in Manchester UK, or the 2003 The Station nightclub fire, or any number of other recent catastrophic events, we are reminded that we need to always be thinking about our security in public events and transitional spaces. Just because you are in an event or location with robust security, you should not ever take your safety for granted.

 

 

At events like the Manchester attack, we tend to think we are safe. The arena has security, no weapons are allowed, it’s a fun crowd out for a fun evening.

Attackers know these thing too and they tend to look for the weak points in security. In this case, the attacker chose a transitional space, a natural funnel between a primary exit from the arena, and the nearest public transport, the Manchester train station. He knew traffic flow from the concert would be heavy and concentrated. He knew the only likely security in the transitional space would be CCTV cameras (great for post mortem, not so hot for prevention). And he knew that by the nature of the transitional space, no one would think twice about someone loitering (waiting on friends? A train?) carrying luggage (it’s a train station entrance after all).

In 2003, The Station nightclub caught fire and was engulfed in smoke and flames in 5 ½ minutes. Of the 462 people in a club with capacity for only 404, 100 died and 230 were injured. When the fire began, people panicked and fled blindly, trying to exit through the one door they had entered, ignoring other potential exits.

A framework can be helpful in this process. Largely, the model below is familiar to most military or first responders as it is similar to the traditional OODA loop, or Observe, Orient, Decide, Act model of decision making. But, sometimes jargon gets in the way of understanding. So here is some simpler language.

Pay attention

For some reason, when we get around our friends, in a social situation, excited about our plans as they unfold, we stop paying attention to the world around us. When we are alone in public, we tend to pay far more attention to our surroundings. We feel alone, which often makes us feel insecure, less safe, but heightens our focus. Being in a group brings an often false sense of security, and a fair number of distractions.

Don’t let your guard down. Stay vigilant and pay attention to the world around your group. If something seems out of place, or makes you feel off, there is probably a good reason for it. Security professionals often call this situational awareness, which is a fancy way of saying understanding the environment and events you are in, in relation to time and meaning, what is normal and expected, and thus what is out of context and therefore noticeable. And if you notice something that looks out of place, or your spidey senses start tingling, an unattended bag or individual dressed inappropriately for the environment and looking uncomfortable, etc. let someone in authority know.

 

Know the layout

There is a reason flight attendants show passengers where the exits are. Statistics point to a significantly increased probability of surviving a plane crash if you know where the exits are. Virtually any public venue you go to will have multiple entrances/exits. Don’t just remember the one you went through to get there, learn where at least one of the others is.

In 2003, during The Station nightclub fire,  100 people died, 40 of them in the doorway they had entered through. There were three other exits in the building, and an entire front of windows that could have been broken to create egress points. People are creatures of habit, they like to go in the way they came.

Take a few minutes, look for the exits, talk it over with your group and have a plan in case you get separated or things go south.

Take a moment to assess what’s happening

If you are in situation where an event has happened (active shooter, plane disaster, ied), don’t panic. Stop, take a moment to assess the situation. Where is the threat? Is it ongoing? What are my escape options? Remember, you already learned where the various exits were. What is the crowd doing? Is there cover available to me? Or just concealment? Can I leave? Or is hiding my only option?

In the early days of active shooter training, the mantra was Run, Hide, Fight. Today that has been replaced with Avoid, Deny, Defend. In either case though, you need to take a little time to assess what is happening. Don’t freeze however, this is an active assessment informed by your previous knowledge of the area. You are making decisions about your next steps.

Take action

With your assessment in mind, action is now required. Can you safely and quickly leave the area? Which way? What is the crowd doing? There can be significant risk in following the crowd. Crowds can lead to deadly bottlenecks. In the case of a terrorist attack, one tactic we have seen applied is an initial attack designed to stun/assault a crowd, followed by a second, potentially larger attack, designed around a bottleneck of fleeing victims and/or first responders.

Are you responsible for others? Are they with you? Can you communicate with them? Did you set up a meeting place in case you got separated? Now is the time to execute on the plan you worked through earlier. For example, “We are going to head out that emergency exit on the north side of the stage. We will make our way back to our vehicle in section X of the parking lot.” Once you leave, get away from the threat zone. Remember, debris from an explosion can travel long distances. Don’t linger in the area.

Finally, what to do if you or a friend are injured?

Do you know CPR? ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation). Are they conscious? Talking? Take another moment now to assess their injuries. Have you taken any medical training or first aid courses? Do you know to apply pressure if they are bleeding? Do you have a med kit? I highly recommend you get one, get trained on using it, and carry it. Call 911 and, if necessary seek medical attention as soon as possible.

 

 

Look, I don’t want you to live your life in fear. That’s what the bad guys want, whether a bully, criminal or terrorist. Go out with friends. Attend concerts and movies. Travel. Live your life. I am only advocating that you go out in that life a little more prepared. A slightly harder target than the average person. Someone more likely to survive when faced with a deadly threat. Because you have taken the time to pay attention, assess, build a plan and be prepared to execute on it.

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Doug is a former CIA officer with extensive overseas experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He is skilled in several foreign languages, personal security, tactical driving, counter terrorism tactics and small arms. He holds an MBA from Wharton and has worked in high tech, private equity and manufacturing. He regularly writes on business and intelligence topics for both web and print publications, serves as an on air SME for news and opinion shows, and consults/produces on film and television productions.

 

For more from Doug, please see his work at Inglorious Amateurs.

Ghostbusting, 100 Years Ago — Guest Post by K.B. Owen

Today we welcome historical mystery writer K.B. Owen to tell us about Ghostbusting in the early 20th century. K.B. taught college English at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.  A long-time mystery lover, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and sons and is busily planning the lady professor’s next adventure.

K profile pic 2014

Historical Mystery Author K.B. Owen

You’ll find K.B.’s latest release, Unseemly Pursuits, at the links below. Be sure to enter her Big Giveaway for a chance to win the Swag Kit.

Ghostbusting, 100 Years Ago

By K.B. Owen

Among the joys of writing historical mysteries is running across cool nuggets of research. While writing Unseemly Pursuits, I needed to learn more about late-19th century spirit mediums and their tricks, which inevitably led me to some ghostbusters and absurd situations that I like to call “gotcha” moments. The public exposure was sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic. I thought I’d share some with you today.

Ghostbusters

Almost as plentiful as fraudulent mediums were the debunkers who sought to catch them at it.  Below are some of the most well-known of their time, made up of earnest scientific researchers as well as flamboyant entertainers.

John Nevil Maskelyne, 1839-1917

John Nevil Maskelyne image by wikimedia commons

John Nevil Maskelyne 1839-1917
image via wikimedia commons

After watching the Davenport brothers exhibit their “spirit cabinet,” purported to manifest spirits while the brothers were tied up inside, Maskelyne suspected fraud.  He built his own cabinet and in 1865 launched a career of stage magic that lasted decades, whereby he demonstrated how to artificially create many of the spiritualists’ effects. The picture below gives you an idea of what a spirit cabinet looked like.

Davenport Brothers 1870 image via Wikimedia Commons

Davenport Brothers 1870
image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini 1874-1926

Harry Houdini 1874-1926

Harry Houdini 1874-1926
Image via Wikimedia Commons

image via Wikimedia Commons

image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini was the ultimate showman.  We associate him primarily with escape artistry, but many of his shows were based on re-creating spiritualists’ effects and demonstrating the fraud behind them. He was particularly impressed with researcher Harry Price’s work (below) in exposing the tricks behind spirit photography. Price’s findings enabled Houdini to duplicate the effect. Below is a photo of Houdini with the “ghost” of Abraham Lincoln (1920-30), created by Houdini to prove how easy it was to perpetrate the fraud.

Harry Houdini and the "Ghost" of Abraham Lincoln image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini and the “Ghost” of Abraham Lincoln
image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Price Testing 1930

Harry Price 1881-1948 image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Price 1881-1948
1930 image via Wikimedia Commons

Price had an impressive credentials list: he was a member of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, London, belonged to the Society of American Magicians, and was Librarian for the Magicians’ Club of London. He authored many well-respected journal articles documenting the fraudulent techniques of spiritualists, including spirit-writing and spirit-photography. A master-conjurer himself, he could spot sleight-of-hand and other maneuvers. However, unlike other “ghostbusters,” he deeply believed in psychic phenomena and did endorse some spirit mediums. Think of him as a believer in the psychic world – as long as he could first subject it to strict scientific controls.

Slade vs. Lankester

Owen Lankester 1908 image via Wikimedia Commons

Ray Lankester
1908 image via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Henry Slade (1835-1905) was an American medium who specialized in spirit writing on slate blackboards.  “Spirit slates” consisted of two chalkboards bound together that, when opened, were said to reveal messages written by spirits.  The trick was performed by putting a blank slate on an audience member’s head, or asking him/her to hold it under the table.  Then, after a suitable interval, a chalk-written message would be revealed.  It wouldn’t be that difficult to switch out a pre-written slate, or for the medium to hold a piece of chalk in a ring and become proficient at writing under the table.

During Slade’s tour in Britain, Professor (of Zoology, of all things) Ray Lankester (1847-1929) set out to expose him.  During Slade’s seances, Lankester and another witness watched carefully. At the second séance, Lankester snatched the supposedly blank “spirit slate” to find that it had been pre-written.  Lankester published an account of the incident in a letter to the Times, and sued him. Slade was convicted and sentenced to three months of hard labor (in England, they typically used an old statute of vagrancy, originially meant for gypsies). However, upon appeal the sentence was dismissed, whereupon Slade fled England.

Rival Mediums: Cook vs. Guppy 

Florence Cook image via Wikimedia Commons

Florence Cook
image via Wikimedia Commons 

Sometimes a jealous rival or the skeptical onlooker can prove to be one’s undoing, which was the case with medium Florence Cook.

Florence Cook (1856-1904) began her career as a medium at 15, when she apparently levitated off the floor while with a group of friends.  Soon after, she was causing the ghost of Katie King to materialize.  Katie King was rather notorious in spiritualist circles, as she was supposed to be a murderess who, to atone for her sins in the afterlife, returned to convince people that the spirit world was real.  (I think Jacob Marley had better justification for returning to save Ebenezer Scrooge, but that’s just my opinion).  Being able to produce Katie King on demand became a profitable venture for Florence Cook. The spirit cabinet was Cook’s go-to device for perpetrating the trick.

However, success is not without its drawbacks.  Rival medium Mrs. Samuel Guppy (1838-1917), an older and, by some accounts, a less attractive woman (couldn’t find a picture to bear this out, sorry), decided to give her rival a come-uppance.  Of course, Mrs. Guppy couldn’t attend a seance of Cook’s – she was too well-known – so she enlisted the aid of William Volckman (who later became her husband).  He bribed his way in with jewelery. When the spirit appeared, he grabbed her and proclaimed the fraud. However, other attendees at the séance fought back and assisted Cook’s escape (one of them was Cook’s fiance at the time).  Volkman got a bloody nose and no proof out of the deal, for by the time they looked back in the spirit cabinet, there was Florence Cook tied up again, although her clothes were disarranged.

Cook was caught for real later, when she was pretending to be the spirit of a young girl. One of the sitters noticed the spirit was wearing a corset – not something your young Victorian girl would wear – and decided to grab the lady the next time he got the chance. He did, and the spirit cabinet was found empty, except for boots and outer garments. When the lights were turned on, there was Florence Cook, in her underwear.

So what do you think of these daring ghostbusters and their undergarment-clad targets? What fraud-perpetrators today get caught with their pants down?

Piper and Holmes, thanks so much for hosting me today. I had a blast!

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Unseemly Pursuits: A Concordia Wells Mystery

 KB Owen Unseemly Pursuits Cover

A deadly secret that won’t stay buried…

It is the fall of 1896, and Miss Concordia Wells is hip-deep in the usual tumult of a lady professor’s life: classes, clubs, student pranks, and the unending drama generated by the girls she lives with on campus.  Complicating this normality is the new Lady Principal, whom the students have nicknamed “the Ogre.”  The woman seems bent on making Concordia’s life miserable.

And then there’s the exotic spirit medium, Madame Durand, who has befriended Concordia’s mother and has started a “Spirit Club” on campus.  Madame’s prognostications of doom are at first only mildly irritating – until events take a sobering turn.  An ancient Egyptian amulet donated to the college mysteriously disappears, the donor is found murdered, and his daughter – Concordia’s best friend – confesses to killing him.

Desperate for answers, Concordia unravels a 20-year-old secret, closely guarded by men now dead.  But such secrets can be dangerous for the daughters left behind, including Concordia herself.  Can she make sense of the mystery that has bound together their fates, before it’s too late?

Available as:

KindlePaperback, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks

Unseemly Pursuits is the second book of the series.  The first book, Dangerous and Unseemly, was published in early 2013.

KB Owen SwagKit

An Unseemly Giveaway:

During K.B.’s Unseemly Pursuits book tour, which goes through the first week of March, there’s a giveaway at each blog stop (including here!).  The winner, randomly drawn from the commenters at each stop, will get a free ebook copy of Unseemly Pursuits.  At the end of the tour, she’ll hold another random drawing from among the ebook winners for the final prize: a special Concordia Wells series swag package! It includes customized mug, keychain, JellyBelly mini-tin, and signed paperback copies of the first two mysteries: Dangerous and Unseemly and Unseemly Pursuits. You can read, sip your coffee, and snack on candy in unseemly style. Check the sidebar on the home page of kbowenmysteries.com for the full tour schedule and other info.

To comment and enter for the Big Giveaway, come to 

Bayard & Holmes

Ghostbusters, 100 Years Ago by K.B. Owen

Cop Killer: A Phenomenal Thriller

Today we welcome two of our favorites to our site–Screenwriter and Best Selling Author Ryne Douglas Pearson and Author/Editor Ellie Ann. Holmes and I both thoroughly enjoyed this book by Ryne, the man Piper calls the Prince of Prose, and we hope you’ll check it out.

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Review of Cop Killer, by Ellie Ann

Product Synopsis:

Danny Owen. A hard-charging detective who thrives on the thrill of the chase, the danger in the catch. His life is the street. Dark alleys and vicious crimes fill his every waking moment, and often his dreams.

Until tragedy turns his world upside down.

Transferred to District One, considered the tamest slice of the city, Danny is partnered with veteran detective Jack James, a cool and methodical investigator whose near legendary tenure is considered pivotal in creating the District’s peaceful environment.

But even shining cities have their shadows, and the new partners find themselves facing a cold and calculating killer. One who might be avenging angel, or may simply be atoning for their own sins.

As Danny and Jack identify and close in on their suspect, the bounds of right and wrong, justice and vengeance, begin to blur. So much so that one detective begins to doubt just who is adversary, and who is ally.

This is an incredible tale of loyalty and trust, murder and mystery. What with the dark style and beautifully written prose, not to mention the themes of coldness/hardness and betrayal, it reminded me of a classic gothic novel. This is Wuthering Heights meets District 1.

The story is masterfully told. From the very first murder scene, I had a feeling I knew where the plot would end up–but I was wrong. And then around half the book I was sure I knew where it was headed–only to be surprised again. There’s nothing simple about this story. No decisions are black and white, and there are no knights in shining armor.

Danny is not your average protagonists. The first scene he was in made me sure I wasn’t going to like him–but as more layers were revealed in his character the more I realized what a complex, flawed, and inexplicably heroic soul he had.
I really can’t wait to see where this series goes. This book is highly recommended.

Check out Ryne Douglas Pearson’s website for buying options.

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Ellie Ann is an author and an editor for Stonehouse Ink Publishing. Check out her new thriller, Breaking Steele, and Twisting Steele, she co-authored with #1 Amazon bestseller Aaron Patterson. Her first solo novel, a YA science fiction called The Silver Sickle, was released this spring. Something else that tickles her fancy is working with transmedia books at Noble Beast Publishing, where she is a producer of enhanced digital books.

Ellie Ann blogs at EllieAnn.net and would love to meet you on Facebook or Twitter.

The Science of the Inevitable Taupo Apocalypse by FIRELANDS Apocalypse Blogger Challenge Winner MJ Wright

Holmes and I are delighted to welcome Piper’s FIRELANDS Apocalypse Blogger Challenge Winner MJ Wright. MJ is one of New Zealand’s most published historians and writers and a heckuva nice guy. His latest release, the Bateman Illustrated History of New Zealand by Matthew Wright, is available now through Fishpond for New Zealand readers. For those of us who do not live in Lord of the Rings Land, keep an eye out for it on Kindle, Kobo, and iPad.

Bateman Illustrated History of New Zealand by Matthew Wright

In addition to a guest post here today and a month-long seat of honor at the upcoming Bayard & Holmes website blog, MJ is today’s featured blogger at Social In Worldwide, Inc., the premier Twitter-driven news and events network of the nation. In fact, I twisted his arm and convinced him to come on board as one of our Social In team.  Look for more of MJ’s excellent work over at Social In DC or at one of the many Social In sites across the nation. Follow MJ on Twitter at @MJWrightNZ.

Congratulations on your win, MJ! We’re so pleased to welcome you here to Bayard & Holmes and to the Social In family.

Author/Historian MJ Wright

Author/Historian MJ Wright

The Science of the Inevitable Taupo Apocalypse

By MJ Wright

A couple of weeks back I read Firelands, debut dystopian thriller by US author Piper Bayard. To call the book fantastic is an understatement. I was hooked from the first pages, dropping the book I was writing myself, despite looming contract deadline, so I could keep reading.

A photo I took a few years ago. Taupo. Not a placid lake filled with trout. Well, it is. But it's also the caldera of one of the world's biggest supervolcanoes. Uh - yay.

Firelands is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the United States has become a theocratic dictatorship – a provocative setting that makes the novel far more than just Hunger Games for grown-ups. Firelands is in a class of its own. A wonderful, insightful, thoughtful and exciting story.

Bayard’s instrument of doom is a supervolcano – Taupo – that casts the world into darkness.  A scenario that’s not just plausible. It’s already happened at least twice.

I live within 260 km of Taupo’s Hatepe vent, so I thought I’d post about the historical apocalypse while scrabbling for my asbestos suit, hard hat and breathing apparatus.

On the face of it, Taupo is a lake with thermal district. The full name is Taupo-nui-a-Tia; ‘the great cloak of Tia’, referring to a flax cloak of the rangitira Tia. It’s often mispronounced. The first syllable rhymes with ‘tow’ as in ‘towing along’. Technically, Taupo should also have a macron over the o, indicating a long vowel. In IPA terms it’s‘tau-poh, which is close.

Photo taken by my wife one day in early 2005 of the Orakei Korako thermal zone just north of Taupo.

Pakeha (white settlers) got to know it in the 1840s. Donald McLean, the dour, God-fearing Presbyterian Scot who trudged into the district in 1846, saw a Christian apocalypse, confiding to his diary that ‘No person could see this place without feeling intensely the awful end of a miserable sinner, when committed to his last home; and may God in His providence prepare us all for such a serious change…’

The science behind that hellish setting emerged only as vulcanology developed through the twentieth century.

Turns out the lake is a caldera, part of an immense volcanic field stretching from Mount Ruapehu  to the Whakatane underwater volcano. The field has erupted many times. White Island is active now, monitored by a webcam and plastic dinosaur.

Geothermal steam from the Taupo system is used to generate power - up to 13 percent of the North Island's needs, in fact. The techniques were developed right here in New Zealand.

Geothermal steam from the Taupo system is used to generate up to 13 percent of the North Island’s power. This is my photo of the Wairakei station. The techniques were developed  in New Zealand.

All are dwarfed by Taupo itself, the centre of the system. The last eruption around 180 AD, from the Hatepe vents near the south of the lake, was modest by Taupo standards, but still cast the world into shadow.

The Oruanui eruption, Taupo, 26,500 BP. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taupo_2.png

The benchmark remains the Oruanui eruption 26,500 years ago  (earlier analysis cited 22,690 ±230 BP), to the north of the current lake and the world’s last eruption to score 8 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index – the maximum. Back then, the lake was different, known to paleogeographers as Lake Huka. In 2012, PhD student Aidan Allen discovered the trigger for this cataclysm was likely an earthquake.

The eruption blew out the current lake bed – and more. Everything in the central North Island was destroyed by a fall of ingimbrite some 200 metres deep. Then there were devastating floods. Even the major river, the Waikato, changed its course. Ash fell  as far away as the Chathams.

It was a world cataclysm. Although debate continues over specific triggers for Pleistocene glacial cycles, there is evidence that the worldwide glacial maximum that began 26,500 years ago was pushed, in part, by this eruption. In New Zealand, certainly, a warming period prior to the eruption came to a dead stop afterwards.

Oruanui may not have caused the glacial cycle alone – but  it made things worse. Humanity was nearly wiped out in the deep cold that followed. The downturn seems to have been the last blow for Neanderthals, our cousin species already reduced to the edge of extinction at Gibraltar. It destroyed a nascent H. Sapiens agricultural revolution among the Gravettian culture in what are now Russian steppelands. Had that not been cut short, civilisation might have been with us 20,000 years earlier.

This was the apocalypse, Pleistocene style.

And to give that perspective, the Oruanui blast was itself dwarfed by the Whakamaru eruption in the same zone, 254,000 years ago.

We’ll have warning before the next one. Taupo is monitored by New Zealand’s Geological and Nuclear Sciences department via GPS and seismographic stations. No rubber dinosaur, but hey…

Hopefully it won’t happen in our lifetimes. Because when it does, it will bring the apocalypse. Certainly for New Zealand, maybe the world.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013 

Enlarging Our Twitter Audience: Guest Post by Professional Network Builder Lonny Dunn

Today, I’m honored to welcome Lonny Dunn of ProNetworkBuild. Lonny is an amazing social media networker and the author of How to Use Twitter for Local Business, the only book ever written on how to build a large local following on Twitter and make meaningful, useful connections with Social Media. I’ve personally watched him grow Twitter accounts by over 50k followers within the past year. And they were real people, not just followback teams or bots. Today, Lonny is sharing his wisdom on why Twitter accounts that aren’t actively growing are stagnating.

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Enlarging Our Audience On Twitter

By LONNY DUNN

Twitter suggests we follow people when we open an account.  But, strangely, for various reasons, people stop following.  Maybe they hit a plateau or lose interest? Not following new people on a regular basis means we are not using Twitter properly. The reasons are highlighted in the short film clip above. Our audience is basically dying off faster than we can get new followers. As soon as we get 100 new followers, within a month, only 25 of them may still be active daily users.

We must pick a time to follow new people regularly.  If you are a big fan of FollowFriday, then start following on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.  If you follow 1,000 new people over the course of two days, you can expect at least 250 to follow you back, and about ten of them will say “Thanks for the Follow.” Engage those who reach out. An alternative system may be to follow 200 new people daily, stick with it, and create a pipeline of energy.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:

Writers tend to be supportive of other writers for example, but we are not exactly enriching the greater world if we are only supporting one another. We need to try following various groups and sample which groups work best. Sometimes I type in “Like My Facebook” into the Twitter Search feature. This means there are people who are crossmarketing on Facebook, and I will tweet to them, asking for the same kindness. Or we could look up “Pinterest” in search. We can use the Search feature to begin writing down names of accounts with like interests. Follow their Followers.

I use Tweepi to follow new people.

It is a free tool available to anyone, and I do not use the “Paid” version. At Tweepi.com you can log on, skip Step 2 and go right to “Follow New Tweeps” button. Also, it is important to click “Columns” and then Number of Followers, and Friends. I also click the Follower Ratio. I never follow anyone over 125% following ratio.

Did you know that your tweets appear at the top of the new follower’s timeline?

What a boost! After following you, your next tweet will pop up on the top of their list. What better form of advertising is that?  People who do not follow regularly don’t even realize this feature exists. It is like an auditorium, or movie theatre which rotates a new audience everyday or at intervals. When networks are expanding, they take on a life of their own. When they are stagnating, they burn out and lose influence.

Learn to Unfollow

This is important, especially when trying to get around Twitter follow limit of 2,000. When you reach this point, you will want to unfollow unproductive people, or those who haven’t tweeted in months to free up space for active tweeps. I use Tweepi for this. An article on this subject is available on my blog, Building An Audience On Twitter.

Pick a Number and Stick with It

Twitter’s daily follow limit is 1,000 which takes about an hour. You might not want to devote this much time to increasing your audience, but that gives you a good standard to work with. Whatever number you set, be disciplined and stick with that number for at least a month. After a day or so, you will see that new people spreading your content for you is far more exciting than older non growth accounts retweeting you.

Engage, Engage, Engage

As new people follow back, some will thank you for following them. Many of these are implying that they have followed you back, a good sign. The more we practice one on one engagement, the better we get at it.  Keep engaging. It is NOT cool to tweet them a link to your blog, and ask them to send it out. We must plant and sow before we harvest.

I will take questions you might have below. Instead of saying “Great Article, Lon” take this chance to ask some questions that you might have of a technical, strategic, or tactical nature. I will be glad to help you as best as I can, and in any way that I can to enlarge your audience.   Do you have a reluctance to grow your account?  Having problems figuring which accounts to follow?  Let me know, and I’ll answer your questions.  Bookmark this page. Maybe you’ll benefit from other people’s questions.

Lonny Dunn

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Lonny Dunn wrote The Thesaurus News online stockpicking newsletter from 1995 to 2001, focusing on Telephony Stocks, and Wireless Infrastructure.  Since then, he has helped small to medium businesses grow their online presence, managed Twitter Accounts for Celebs, and taught people how to use Twitter effectively and properly.  You can upload his latest book, How to Use Twitter for Local Business, using the free Kindle for PC application.

Lonny Dunn tweets at @ProNetworkBuild. Be sure to say hello. He’s one of the finest tweeps in the Twitterverse.

Thank you, Lonny!

Overflights and Posturing: U2 Incident and the Cold War Dance

Today, we are delighted to once again welcome author and engineer Nigel Blackwell, student of history and fan of all things that move. His intelligent, thoroughly researched blogs cover everything from futuristic cars to the history of supersonic flight. So when Nigel offered to help us out with a few guest blogs while we are both away, Holmes and I could not have been more honored.

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Overflights and Posturing: U2 Incident and the Cold War Dance

By NIGEL BLACKWELL

In December 1959, the USA, Britain, and France simultaneously proposed to Nikita Khrushchev, the Chairman of the USSR, a meeting to “consider international questions of mutual concern.” Khrushchev agreed, and a summit was arranged for May 16, 1960 in Paris.

Among the topics “of mutual concern” was the Berlin situation, where the USSR was furious that its citizens were escaping to the west, and a Test Ban Treaty, which would have slowed nuclear weapons development and perhaps prevented further proliferation.

Eisenhower, leery the USSR would under- or over-exaggerate its weapon stockpiles in any negotiations, approved the use of the U-2 spy plane to obtain photographic evidence of Soviet nuclear capabilities. The U-2 was born in the Cold War and designed to carry cameras at 70,000 ft., a height where the US believed its pilot would be safe from the enemy fighters and missiles of the day.

So, on April 9, 1960, Bob Ericson flew a U-2 from northern Pakistan across the southern half of the USSR, and landed in Iran. The Soviet Air Defense Force made several attempts to intercept him, but they were unable to reach his altitude. The photographs were valuable, and the CIA declared the mission a success. A second mission was planned.

On May 1, 1960, a second CIA pilot, Francis Gary Powers, departed from the same northern Pakistan base with a planned zigzag route north, overflying ICBM sites and plutonium production facilities, and landing at Bodo, Norway. Obviously, the route was planned to avoid known SAM sites since altitude was the U-2’s only means of defense.

After Ericson’s flight, the Soviet Air Defense Forces had been on red alert and scrambled to intercept Powers with an array of aircraft and ground launched missiles. Some 1200 miles inside the USSR, near Yekateringburg, they did.

At the time the US only knew that Powers had appeared to descend rapidly from 65,000 ft. to around 34,000 ft. and disappeared from their radar.

The USSR, on the other hand, knew that the aircraft had been brought down and the pilot picked up by a group of puzzled locals, disarmed and driven to the authorities.

In Powers’s book, Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident, he relays that he didn’t even have a cover story planned, and as he was captured by a car load of locals, he realized practically everything he carried was carefully labeled “made in the USA.” He even carried a US flag.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced that a US plane had crashed within the USSR, and the US immediately generated a cover story.

NASA announced that it had lost a weather plane when its pilot reported he was having oxygen problems. They even painted a U-2 in NASA colors and distributed leaflets describing the “weather aircraft” to prove it was operating the U-2. Statements were issued to the effect that “there was absolutely no deliberate attempt to violate Soviet airspace and never has been.”

Unfortunately, Nikita Khrushchev had a public relations ace up his sleeve when, a week later, he reported the following:

“I must tell you a secret. When I made my first report, I deliberately did not say that the pilot was alive and well … and now just look how many silly things they (the Americans) have said.”

In the remaining week before the Paris Summit, Khrushchev kept public pressure on the US by staging the presentation of Gary Powers and the wreckage of the U-2.

The US back pedaled on the NASA weather aircraft story, juggled to defuse the situation, and tried to establish access to Powers, all while preparing for the Four Powers summit in Paris.

The USSR was expected to use the U-2 incident to their advantage at the meeting, but no one knew how. Anticipation grew when Khrushchev arrived two days prior to the meeting.

But when Eisenhower arrived the following day, Khrushchev ignored him and visited French president, Charles de Gaulle, and British Prime Minister Macmillan. Khrushchev would later claim this was because Eisenhower hadn’t indicated an interest in meeting, but neither de Gaulle nor Macmillan had done so either.

In his own meeting with de Gaulle, Khrushchev handed over a document outlining the USSR’s displeasure over the U-2 incident, along with three specific conditions for his participation in the Paris Summit, namely that Eisenhower should:

1) Condemn the USAF’s provocative act (which must have made someone in the CIA smile, because it was a CIA operation).

2) Guarantee that the US would refrain from such acts in the future.

3) Punish the individuals responsible for the U-2 operation.

Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and Macmillan knew that should the contents of Khrushchev document be leaked to the public, he would have no way to back down without losing face. In fact, by presenting his demands to the British and French, it may have been Khrushchev’s intention that they were leaked to the press.

Either way, at the opening of the summit, where the four powers were to discuss the agenda items for the meeting proper, Khrushchev made public his demands. Eisenhower stated that overflights had been suspended and would not be resumed, but on the other points he was silent.

Khrushchev postured and berated the US for some time and eventually ended by withdrawing a long-standing invitation for Eisenhower to visit the USSR. It was a public slap in the face for Eisenhower.

The meeting collapsed at this point. Khrushchev departed Paris. The Test Ban Treaty was stalled for a further three years, and even then it was very limited in scope. The situation in Berlin persisted until the Soviets constructed the Berlin Wall (which symbolized their failure just as much as the flow of the citizens through Berlin).

The Soviets played the part of the grievously wounded for all they could and sentenced Powers to ten years in prison, only to release him within two years in exchange for a Soviet spy caught in the US. The USSR did no posturing then; perhaps they found it hard to justify the difference between a spy at 70,000 ft. and one on the ground.

The failure of the summit disappointed many around the world. Some say that Eisenhower could have handled the situation better, or that the US should not have put so much at risk with the overflights. Or that Khrushchev had already decided to walk away from the conference, and the downing of Gary Powers gave him the perfect excuse.

What do you think?

Cheers

Nigel Blackwell

The Making of a Spook

Holmes is still away so what better time to talk about him, right? Actually he’ll be speaking for himself in this interview with Ellie Ann. My thanks to Ellie Ann, who managed to pry things out of Holmes that I never knew before.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Spook

By Ellie Ann

I hear a lot of students have a hard time deciding on a major. I hear a lot of grown ups hate their jobs. So here it is: a series of interviews about What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. This is here to help people decide what occupation they want to occupy. Or, it’s here to help people resurrect their dreams of being a trapeze artist or Olympic speed walker.

First occupation in the spotlight: An Intelligence Operative

(This is a rare photo of Holmes. At least, I think it is Holmes. Can never be sure with spooks.)

(Piper’s note: This really is Holmes.)

He could be called many things: spy, intelligence agent, sleeper, plant, scout, undercover agent, heart throb . . . but today I’m just going to call him Holmes. Which might or might not be his real name.

He’s a good man. He’s noble. He’s smart. Behind his mask, he’s the real deal. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m pleased to give you my interview of Holmes:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

First I wanted to be a knight with King Arthur. I had a really cool lance that I lugged around with my plastic shield. My mom refused to allow me to take them into stores or on subways. I eventually accepted my inability to rearrange the time continuum and shifted my ambitions toward being a fireman. I always had a fascination with travel and foreign cultures, and that certainly influenced my life.

Is your life constant car chases in Aston Martins, high stakes poker games, high-tech gadgets, jumping out of exploding helicopters, perfect hair, kidnapping dictator’s girlfriends, and fending off hordes of rich and well-dressed (albeit slinky) beautiful women? In other words, is James Bond FOR REAL? 

I am a conservative driver. I have never driven an Aston Martin. I admit to driving the wrong way on a busy one-way section of a main street in Madrid, and down a set of steps to a side street one time, but it was a Sunday so the traffic wasn’t as bad as at other times, and the circumstances merited it. Except for in training areas, I have only willfully ignored traffic laws three times.

Poker? I hate casinos and gambling in general. I have, on very rare occasions, had a reason to walk through a casino. I would have preferred to be in a library or a quiet section of forest.

Perfect Hair? I have pretty manageable thick hair. I spent several years having to keep my hair much longer than I would have preferred. That long, thick hair was a pain, but the “look” has to match the mission at hand. The well-tailored Tuxedo look only works in limited circumstances. The Tuxedo or well-tailored suit won’t work in a back alley in Caracas or the Atlas Mountains in Africa. The longhaired hippy look won’t work in a five star hotel lobby near an OPEC meeting. You have to look the “part,” but there are all sorts of “parts.”

Helicopters? I have survived one helicopter crash and have witnessed two others. I don’t desire extra helicopter rides. To me, they are a tool. I tolerate them without complaint when needed, but not for fun.

Kidnapping dictators’ girlfriends? Never done that. Did you have one in mind?

Fending off rich women? Are you mad? Why would I do that? Unfortunately, I’ve never had to. My rather tolerant wife gave me permission to not fend them off if they ever showed up, as long as they were going to share the riches.

James Bond is almost for real as one of many identities available to agents in the field, but the “Bond” type is very rare. Joe Tourist, Susie Business, Doctor Bob, and Pastor Bill are a few of the more common types of cover. Someone in a Bond role would be less willing to depend on luck and chance than the screen version that we all enjoy watching. I prefer the screen version. He’s more fun to watch.

What movies or books accurately portray the life of a spook?

There are many good books about espionage. A few that come to mind are Spy CatcherThe Falcon and the SnowmanThe Main EnemyThe Puzzle Palace, and By Way of Deception. There have been many tradecraft books published that describe the tools and mechanics of espionage, but I haven’t read the “open source” books on tradecraft so I have no idea which ones are realistic. Just remember that the world of espionage is a very big world, and that one person’s experience may be vastly different from that of another person. So there is no one “right” way for someone in espionage to proceed.

Generally speaking, what qualities/personalities do spook’s possess?

The qualities possessed by a cryptanalyst working in the NSA might be quite different from the qualities possessed by an analyst on the Cuban Desk at the CIA. The qualities that might make a covert action participant ideal for a trip to Somalia might be the same qualities that would leave him uncomfortable working patiently on a long-term operation in Europe. It’s a big world. There’s room for lots of types of folks.

The Director of the CIA, the NSA, or the DHS might have a different view on this, but I look for intelligence, reliability, loyalty, and commitment. I don’t look for big, fragile egos. Heavy drinkers and drug users are an instant “no.” Skills can be honed, new skills can be learned, but I need to see commitment to the mission at hand to begin to trust someone. I can teach you to shoot better, I can teach you to use a radio safely or run a dead drop. Gravity can easily teach you to parachute. I can’t teach you to be committed. That has to come from inside of you.

What do you love about your job?

I have enjoyed some of the travel. I have enjoyed knowing interesting people and developing life long friendships with people that are so different from my neighbors. What I like most of all is that I have been able to contribute in my small way to things that are very important to me.

What don’t you love about your job?

That’s a tougher question to handle. I don’t like failure. I don’t like it that things don’t always go well or that the intelligence establishments of the USA and its allies (vast and shockingly expensive that they are) cannot always anticipate or predict the future. The lost opportunities prior to 9-11 gnaw at me if I let them. I can’t let them. Crying about yesterday makes us useless today. But for all of us, in any walk of life, we have to “be here now” in order to contribute to the well being of our loved ones and ourselves. In a better world, there would be no spies, no guns, no nuclear weapons, and no hungry or abused children, but I was born in this world and in my imperfect human way, I have responded as best I can.

Say I want to be a spook when I grow up, what are some things I could do in jr high/high school that will prepare me for the job?

Foreign language studies should be started at the earliest possible age. By learning a language prior to age twelve, you will be able to speak it without a foreign accent. Learning a language late is still useful for certain jobs in the vast intelligence community.

-Pay attention in science class, and learn to use computers for more than video games. An interest in human geography and history helps, but those things can be acquired later. There will be a demand for Arabic speakers, Farsi speakers, Chinese speakers and (fluent) Spanish speakers for a long time to come.

-Avoid drugs and alcohol. Unlike Congress, the intelligence community requires sober employees. Self-discipline and self-restraint are valued.

-Be a respectable member of your community. In college, major in what you have a real interest in and likely will do best in. A good psychology major is a more attractive prospective employee than a poor mechanical engineering major.

-For most types of intelligence work (not all) we’ll be talking to your neighbors. If one crank neighbor says nasty things about you, we won’t automatically believe them. If several neighbors tell us that they don’t trust you, we won’t trust you either.

You’d be surprised at how detailed and enthusiastic neighbors can be when describing youngsters to us. People remember that time you helped them when they were sick. They remember that you helped the senior citizen shovel the snow in his driveway. When your neighborhood trusts you, they often become your best PR campaign. If your neighbors trusted you enough to go into their house and water their plants for them when they were on vacation, that’s important to us. You don’t need to be an “exciting” kid or a “cool” kid. You need to be a good kid. We’ll provide the excitement.

And finally, the question I’ve been dying to ask: What really happened in Area 51?!

Area 51? Hey, look. She and I were both young, and I was single at the time so . . . just kidding.

I have never been to Area 51. It’s outside my area of expertise. Area 51 is for work on high tech stuff like fast planes and missiles and things that are best not tested over the skies or under the streets of downtown Los Angeles or New York. I have heard no evidence of anything paranormal or intergalactic occurring at Area 51.

The greatest promoters of UFO stories have been the world’s leading Air Forces. It was always better to have the public believing in intergalactic UFO’s rather than asking questions about real experiments with real equipment. Can you imagine how many “UFO sightings” stealth planes and cruise missiles have generated?

First, I just want to say: Thank You Holmes for being born in this world and for responding to the threat of evil men with bravery and responsibility. I’m sure you have hundreds of cool stories. I hope one day they’ll make a movie about you. P.S. Who do you want to play you in the movie about your life?

Second, if you want more of Holmes (who wouldn’t?) then check out his fantastic articles about world politics, famous spooks, current affairs, and interesting history. Just look on the sidebar.

Would you want to be a spook?

Ellie Ann

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Ellie Ann continues this excellent career series with interviews of Archeologist Arielle Danielson, Writer Jason Arnopp (Dr. Who: The Gemini Contagion), Scientist Jordan Smith, Zookeeper Callene Rapp, Fashion Photographer Cody Bess, Stay-at-Home Mother Lisa Lang, and Deadliest Warrior Host Dr. Dorian. My deepest appreciation to Ellie Ann for loaning us her blog for the day.