With markets set to open about flat this morning, we can help but notice the huge increase in level-of-play between the U.S. and Russia over cyber security.

As you may have read, president Obama has imposed sanctions on Russia for the alleged hacking efforts this past fall. The report, GRIZZLY STEP (here) outlines why the US believes it was Russia state-actors who were involved in the attempts.

The report blames Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) and claims:

“This activity by RIS is part of an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens. These cyber operations have included spearphishing campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure entities, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations leading to the theft of information. In foreign countries, RIS actors conducted damaging and/or disruptive cyber-attacks, including attacks on critical infrastructure networks. In some cases, RIS actors masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas designed to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack. This (joint analysis report -g) JAR provides technical indicators related to many of these operations, recommended mitigations, suggested actions to take in response to the indicators provided, and information on how to report such incidents to the U.S. Government.”

Central to the Obama administration decision to sanction Russia is the belief that the hacking efforts were indeed state sponsored.

However, anyone with a fair working knowledge of economic conditions inside Russia might be a little slower to conclude the hack efforts were “official.”

Having worked with numerous Russia (and Eastern European – Ukrainian) programmers, I can tell you they are extraordinarily bright – and terribly underpaid. Thanks to global criminal elements, there is a strong market for hacked information. With white-hat jobs are scarce, private enterprising can easily be tipped past gray.

Russia figures it will play the “Who US?” game a while longer, too. This will leverage public lack of depth on highly technical hacking attempts.

To play their role, the NY Times is reporting that Russia is set to expel 35 U.S. diplomats as a “payback.”

On the analytic side, while it’s true that there are some Russian digital fingerprints involved, that may not be conclusive.

Other state actors we’re aware of (N. Korea, China, el al) have major-league hacking resources and might simply be framing the Russians.

Piecing the Antarctic Puzzle

Further to our report of Thursday, where we related that Russian president Vlad Putin is making plans to visit the Antarctic this year, we could another interesting piece of the putting today in the Jakarta Post.

This news service reports “An Indonesian researcher from Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta is currently taking part in an expedition in the Antarctic.”

While some have speculated that a vast new source of energy might be found in the Antarctic, we are much more reserved in our outlook. More likely, from our read of things, is that evidence of a past high civilization may have been found.

The what makes the presence of Nugroho Imam Setiawan is that he’s in the rock-dating business using “a multimethod geochronological approach.”

Thus while we give credence to a possible mystery under the ice, we continue to wonder if the game-ball this year may be accurately dating and understanding how a previous Earth cataclysm may have occurred.

If actual remnants, objects, or structures have been found, it would certainly explain the rush of heads-of-state to the region. Not to mention the importance of how the geological clock ran at the time.

As always, time will tell.

Quiet Year End

Other than a dream about a deck or bridge collapsing this weekend, doesn’t seem to be much going on as the year wraps up. A couple of minor interest rate settlements today, but mostly it promises to be a half-day most places.

One question we find ourselves asking during 2-1/2 day workweeks like this: Why can’t we live this way all the time?

People might live longer (half the stress) and the number of jobs could be increased.

As the year ends, the average work-week is still too damn long. Government should be offering people “thinking grants.”

The idea’s pretty simple: Offer those interesting in pursuing some nut-job theories federal underwriting.

Sure, most of the time the money will go down a rat-hole, but remember the Russians have plans to engineer teleportation by 2035.

We all love America – Trump gets that, too.

Problem is?

We have only a general basket of ”Make America Great Again” but the Russians have done us one better this year.

Management schools teach MBA types (like Ures truly) that GOALS must be “specific, measurable, achievable, and durable.”

I don’t know how to measure “Great” but I can sure as hell measure teleportation.

Coupled with the Russian science of Invention approach embodied in TRIZ (teoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadach, literally: “theory of the resolution of invention-related tasks) America’s mush-mindedness still clouds our ability to put point on the scoreboard.

Maybe el presidente will reveal “20 measures of Greatness” as part of his Inaugural speech.

And yeah, Elaine and I have both read his “Art of the Deal.

But if there’s a single book everyone in the new administration needs to read, it’s “And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared: TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving .”

Success comes again in 2017 to those who clearly understand you can have ANYTHING you want, but you can’t have EVERYTHING you want.

Around the Ranch

Lots on the agenda today: Some analysis of our trading model versus buy-and-hold investing for Peoplenomics readers tomorrow.

Plus that “fine-tuning home audio” discussion.

For reading:  Finish the latest Clive Cussler novel and read The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration.

Free and a good read is my buddy6 Gaye’s article over at Backdoorsurvival.com “Do You Think Prepping Has Died?”

Markets go up people get complacent.  So have a plan and work it…

Yep, just another workday…

See you next year…