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Valhalla Weekly Newsletter #003 - HackingFIRE Launch, The Jan 6 Hearings, Research Wrap-up

Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research
Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research
The HackingFIRE launch has begun, as have The Jan 6 Hearings in the US. A big week and lots of research done!

Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I’m a day late. I’m just surprised I got the first two issues out on time! This week, there’s a reason for the lateness, but we will get into that in a second. This week’s issue is all about my new initiative HackingFIRE, the Jan 6 Hearings and a quick research wrap-up to finish the week off.
I hope you all enjoy!
Research Wrap-Up
This was a fun way to learn how embedded resources work in C/C++ by learning how to generate a Python executable using py2exe and embedding that executable into my pre-existing C/C++ malware. I learned a ton, and I hope you will too!
This is a fun side-hobby I’m starting: learning how to generate 3D graphics with OpenGL in C/C++. Math has always been my weak point and game development and graphics have always been something that has interested me, so I’m going to learn the latter to motivate me to get better at the former.
In my never-ending struggle to truly understand the Windows API, I’ve decided to start a series of blogs and videos on individual functions, or groups of functions, in the Windows API.
HackingFIRE
The FIRE movement has always fascinated me, and I’ve changed my thinking about it several times over the years. If you’re not familiar, FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. It’s basically a movement of people who are dropping out of the traditional idea that you have to wait until you’re 65 to retire and are structuring their saving and investing to allow for an earlier and more comfortable retirement.
I think one of the reasons I’ve changed my thinking on this movement so often, from “oh, this is obviously what everyone should do” to “nah, sounds like a lot of work” to “sounds great but they’ve got some unsound investment strategies,” is because the common approach to FIRE is not very scientific, in my opinion. Many of the approaches to FIRE are essentially “throw your money into these high-dividend ETF’s and indexes, spend literally nothing and do what you can to maximize income” are fairly reductive, over-simplistic and often flawed. Many FIRE advocates rely very heavily on high-dividend stock indexes, with the thinking that “they have never lowered their dividend payout before, so why would they start now?” The “past results do not guarantee future performance” mantra seems to have missed many FIRE advocates.
This is just one example of many on the mistakes, fallacies and shortcomings of some of the more popular and less-studied approaches to financial independence. My approach with HackingFIRE is this: let’s take the idea of the FIRE movement and apply more objective, mathematical and scientific principles to it. Let’s learn how to create scalable, ethical, value-based investments and technologies to provide long-term passive income that is hedged against market downturn and industry disruption. And, most of all, let’s do it with a building-in-public approach. Radical transparency and public study is key to ensuring that all boats rise together, but it’s more than that for me.
Financial independence to me is the key to liberation. Whether it be government oppression and subjugation or the subjugation by private entities, we are constantly faced with the illiberal requirement to work bullshit jobs that leave us underpaid, underwhelmed, underexcited, overworked, overstimulated and over exhausted. Debt with unregulated interest rates and oppressive terms keep us constantly behind on savings and investing in our future, wages that are miles behind inflation ensure that our cost of living consistently increases year over year and seemingly constant economic downturns, recessions and depressions leave us wondering if the retirement account we’re working so hard to fill is going to be enough to let us eek out a meager survival to a stagnant or decreasing life expectancy.
We cannot truly fight against all forms of oppression if the constant threat of losing our ability to provide for our family disappears. There are many avenues to liberating people from the chains binding them to an oppressive economy, and I’m taking lots of other avenues as well. One of the better ones that won’t land you in jail is the methodology I will be covering in HackingFIRE.
I go more in-depth into my methodology on Twitter and on my launch blog, but essentially the game is going to be building up enough money to pay off my debts and replace my day job income in a year and a half. That is about $250,000. To do that, I am going to invest in ethical, sustainable market and cryptocurrency investments with a small portion of the revenue generated from my larger investments in building technology products and services that focus on social good, empowerment and liberation.
The best place to keep up with this initiative is my newsletter, but you can also find more on my blog and Twitter.
Okay, moving on…
The Jan 6 Hearings
The January 6th Hearings covering the fascist coup that attempted to overturn an election began this week. Most people that know me and my work in countering and studying right wing extremism reached out to ask if I’d seen this or that, but honestly I just watched a couple of highlights and moved on.
Frankly, I don’t have much hope that these “hearings” are any more than public theater. There were plenty of “ooo gotcha” moments from Liz Cheney and others, some great sound bites that I am sure will be good chaffe for the re-election campaign, and a couple of new “revelations” that came from witnesses showing just how bad Jan 6 was and how bad it could have been.
I know, it’s a political show. Maybe it will lead to some information going to trial. It won’t, but maybe it will. What is more interesting to me is that The Powers That Be finally started talking about the threat of right wing extremist violence by the Proud Boys and their ilk. The reason why it’s interesting is that, I believe without exception, every Proud Boy mentioned in the January 6th Hearing testimony has been publicly covered beating anti-fascist protesters in the streets of every major city in the United States, most of them repeatedly.
So, excuse me for my pessimism, but it seems like this sudden attention to the far right thugs is a day late and a dollar short. Antifascist activists have been very directly fighting this violence for years now, while being widely condemned by the same politicians who are now waking up to the realities that these activists have been screaming from the rooftops for years and years. This isn’t new, and they don’t get to pretend like the Proud Boys and their ilk have just sprung from the ground out of nowhere just recently. The real fight against fascists doesn’t happen in a courthouse in front of the TV cameras…
I could go on, but I won’t… tales for another day.
Until next week!
Thank you so much for reading this week’s edition of the Valhalla Research Weekly! Feel free to leave me feedback on Twitter if you have recommendations, thoughts or feelings.
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Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research
Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research @valhalla_dev

The intersection of security, software and politics. All things research, some things software.

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