Sunday, October 7, 2012

Money and Mass Murder

Does venture capitalism lead to mass murder? It's not simply a rhetorical question, as we often find when we begin with a horrendous incident of epic proportions and follow the trail of money that leads up to it.

Robert Hecht-Nielsen--Holmes' Boss

Ten years after TRW funded Robert Hecht-Nielsen's software company, HNC, it sold some of its stock in a money-raising IPO, which allowed the now-public corporation to be acquired seven years later by Fair Isaac Corp (now FICO).

Rather than losing his job as a result of the acquisition, HNC's founder, Robert Hecht-Nielsen, was named vice-President of Research and Development for the merged corporation, which also hired the father of James Holmes, then set to enter newly constructed Westview High School in San Diego.

Last April, when Hecht-Nielsen joined the board of KUITY Corp., a press release described him as follows:
Dubbed the “father of analytics,” Professor Hecht-Nielsen directs the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory at the California Institute for telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). He has taught at UCSD since 1985, is a member of the UCSD Institute for Neural Computation, and is a founder of the UCSD Graduate Program in Computational Neurobiology. Dr. Hecht-Nielsen is a pioneer in the development of neural networks and in 1989 authored the first textbook on the subject, Neurocomputing (published by Addison-Wesley). He co-founded HNC Software in 1986, and the company was acquired by FICO in 2002. Dr. Hecht-Nielsen is an expert on computational neurobiology, neural networks, mathematics, physics, and applied mathematics and is widely known for his ongoing innovation in these scientific arenas.
Dr. Hecht-Nielsen’s current work on motor neurons is changing the modern theory of neural science related to muscle movement. Scientists used to agree that one specific motor neuron was responsible for causing a single muscle to contract. Dr. Hecht-Nielsen’s research now demonstrates that in fact it takes the interaction of over a million motor neurons to activate a single muscle contraction. These findings have significant implications across a variety of fields from spinal cord injury rehabilitation to robotics.

FICO's Major Shareholders

In 2002--the merger occurring less than a year after the September 11 takedown of the World Trade Center complex--the largest shareholders in the now-public company were, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing as three mutual funds:

Capital Research and Management Company (1)..... 3,411,098  --  3,411,098 12.8%
The TCW Group, Inc. (2)................................ 2,682,377  --  2,682,377 10.1%
Franklin Resources, Inc. (3)......................... 2,317,735  --  2,317,735  8.7%

  1. Capital Research and Management Co., which controlled by far the largest bloc of  stock, was a privately held company first established in 1931. CRMC, according to SEC statements, manages more than $1 trillion in assets, but "largely has flown under the public radar." It located  in Arizona, and particularly Phoenix, because of the region's commitment to fund technology research and development. 
  2. TCW was an investment company which managed the portfolio of Tracor, Inc.,
  3. Charles B. Johnson
  4.  Franklin Resources was a family-owned company (founded as Franklin Distributors, Inc. in 1947), which went public in 1971, moved from 99 Wall Street to 155 Bovet Road, San Mateo, with the families of Charles Bartlett Johnson and his brother Rupert Harris Johnson, Jr. still controlling 35% of stock in 1999. Their father, Rupert H. Johnson, Sr. (a/k/a R.H. "Amos" Johnson) had formed his own investment banking firm, R.H. Johnson and Company in 1927 and became a trustee for West Point Academy, his alma mater.
Together these three blocs of capital controlled more than 30% of the stock of FICO in 2002. Who did these shareholders represent exactly? To answer this question, we will look closely for common threads in the backgrounds of these companies as indicators of for whom the combined capital syndicate is working.

#1 Shareholder

“the biggest money managers you’ve never heard of”

As indicated above, this parent corporation, Capital Research and Management Co. (CRM) holds 12.8% of FICO stock. Last February Triangle Business Journal reported that Capital World Investors, based in Los Angeles and operating as a subsidiary of Capital Research and Management Co. is also the largest institutional holder of shares in online-retailer Amazon. By the end of 1997 CWI held 1.75 million Amazon shares ($162 million), which had risen in 2012 to 23.5 million share, estimated to have a market value of more than $5 billion.

Jon Lovelace
The company's history goes back to 1931--the year Jonathan Bell Lovelace of Beverly Hills, California, founded Capital Research and Management Company, the original mutual funds company with money he pulled out of the stock market before the 1929 crash--but Capital Research and Management Company really took off in 1933 when it became the adviser for the Investment Company of America (ICA). Having first worked for Pacific Finance Company after graduating from Princeton, Jon Lovelace, his son and successor who died late last year, joined the family company as investment research expert in 1951, becoming chairman in 1964. The Capital Group family of funds include:
  • Capital International
  • Capital Guardian
  • Capital Research and Management
  • Capital Bank and Trust
  • American Funds
The current top executives consist of David I. Fisher, who is chairman of the board of The Capital Group Companies, Inc., Capital Group International, Inc., and of Capital Guardian Trust Company; and Walter P. Stern, Chairman of American Funds and Capital Group International, Inc., Vice Chairman of Capital Research International, and a Director of The Capital Group Companies, Inc. Stern is also a Director of Austin-based Temple-Inland, Inc. based on CRM's being the its largest stockholder--owning 56 million shares (12%) with a market capitalization of about $3.6 billion. Stern first became a director of Temple-Inland, Inc. in 1984, along with Buddy Temple; Bobby Ray Inman joined that board in 1987.

In January 2007 billionaire Carl Icahn and an investment fund he controlled acquired a 6.7 percent stake in Temple-Inland Inc.--a corrugated packaging, forestry products and financial services company--which owned Lumbermen's Investment Corp. through its financial subsidiary, Guaranty Bank.  Pressured by Icahn, Temple said it would separate into three stand-alone public companies and sell off its timberlands.

#2 Shareholder

"$18,093,363,633 in discretionary assets under management"

TCW (Trust Company of the West), which holds 10.1% of FICO stock, was founded by Robert Addison Day--grandson of California oil baron William Myron Keck, who founded Superior Oil Co. (now part of Exxon Mobil Corp.), in 1971. The five clients TCW had by the end of its first year had increased to 57 by the end of 1975.

Nelson Rockefeller
In 1981 Henry A. Kissinger (affiliated with Rockefeller Brothers) joined the TCW board, and in 1993 the company acquired Dillon Read International Asset Management and opened offices in London and Hong Kong. Marc Irwin Stern of the firm is closely connected to heirs to the Rockefeller fortune, Mark Fitler Rockefeller (Nelson's youngest son) and  Michael Sorum Rockefeller (Nelson's grandson and Rodman C. Rockefeller's son). Stern sits on the board of Rockefeller Financial, a privately owned investment manager, formerly known as Rockefeller & Co., Inc.

 In 1994, following a series of events set out below, Tracor, Inc., a defense electronics company based in Austin, Texas, whose primary customer is the United States government, announced that TCW, then the largest shareholder of Tracor's stock, on May 2, 1994 had contracted to sell 700,000 shares back to the company from its various mutual fund portfolios.

TCW's Role in Tracor

Tracor, Inc. was formed in 1962 when Texas Research Associates, Inc., merged with Textran Corporation. In 1964, Tracor made its first stock offering (IPO), which eventually led to a takeover made by Westmark Systems, Inc. in 1987. Adm. Bobby R. Inman announced in September 1986 his resignation as president and CEO of Microelectronics & Computer Technology Corp. (a consortium founded by 19 companies in 1983 to conduct research into advanced computer designs), to accept chairmanship of Westmark, a holding company set up by a Dallas-based merchant bank, Mason Best, and to become Westmark's CEO a few months later. Westmark acquired as part of the transfer ECM, "electronic counter-measure devices," used to prevent attack on naval vessels by confusing heat seeking missiles and radar guided missiles.

Adm. Inman
One year later Westmark acquired Tracor, which had long been one of Austin's biggest employers. George Bush was elected President in 1988, taking office in January 1989. By the end of that year, Inman's job with the failing defense contractor had ended, as  the Los Angeles Times reported:
Bobby Ray Inman, a former intelligence chief, has resigned as head of Westmark Systems Inc., a defense electronics contractor striving to pay for its $867-million buyout of Tracor Holdings Inc. Westmark, whose sole holding is Tracor, said Inman "initiated the action after concluding that a transition in management would facilitate the long-term financial and organizational decisions which will be made at Westmark and Tracor."
Admiral Inman is often referred to in Texas simply as "Bobby Ray," a matter of some amusement to William Safire, who once referred to the admiral in his column as "manipulative and deceptive," in addition to having an "anti-Israel bias." The feud with Safire had possibly begun during Inman's earlier role as director of the National Security Agency (1977-1981) under President Carter. The antagonism clearly developed most violently while he was deputy director of the CIA under William J. Casey (Feb. 12, 1981–June 10, 1982)--a placement insisted upon by Sen. Barry Goldwater

The transition from Carter's intelligence team to Reagan's was headed up by the Secretary of the Navy under Nixon and Ford, J. William Middendorf, who had led an investor group in April 1977 that acquired Financial General, a Washington D.C.-based bank with headquarters a block from the White House.  From 1977-1981, Middendorf was President and Chief Executive Officer of First American Bankshares, Inc.

Jackson Stephens
One member of this investor group was Jackson Stephens, who sent men from his Little Rock firm, Systematics, to talk to Middendorf about providing banking software for Financial General, but they were firmly rejected. Stephens decided to wrest control of the bank from Middendorf.

General George Olmsted, who controlled First American when the Federal Reserve forced him to dispose of his stock, was advised by Nicholas Brady's firm. In 1977, he sold a controlling stake in the company to the Middendorf group, which included Peter Flanigan, a managing director of Dillon, Read. In other words, Dillon, Read officials were on both sides of the transactions.

Safire alleged that  in late 1981 Inman "had planted a false story with a group of newsmen that Israel was the source of rumors that a Libyan 'hit team' was on its way to the U.S.," and later that the admiral's "animus also later contributed to the excessive sentencing of Jonathan Pollard," after his spying conviction for Israel in 1985.

Safire's rant accused Inman of leaving the CIA to join the proxy board of International Signal and Control, a manufacturer of cluster bombs for the Pentagon, whose president, James Guerin, was a "longtime Inman intelligence source." This was all set out in Alan Friedman's book, Spider's Web:

As the top man in Westmark, Inman chose as its early board members  "executives from Temple-Inland, Xerox Corporation, the Union Pacific Railroad, and Robert Strauss, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee."

On December 16, 1993, following President Bill Clinton's nomination of the Admiral to be Secretary of Defense, Bob Woodward wrote in the Washington Post:
Inman's reviews are extraordinary, almost hyperbolic. Nearly everyone who knows him mentions a piercing intellect, honesty, unusual memory for details and prodigious capacity for work.
He had a kind of genius, as well, for ingratiation. As director of the National Security Agency under President Jimmy Carter, Inman was eager for allies in the traditional struggle between his high-technology eavesdropping agency and the human-agent proponents of the CIA. Inman won the friendship of then-National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski by indulging his appetite for "raw intercepts" of the telephone calls of foreign leaders, according to Carter administration officials.
William J. Casey
A further display of bureaucratic maneuvering came when Stansfield Turner, Carter's CIA director, pushed a reorganization plan that would have absorbed the NSA. Inman spent two hours briefing then-Attorney General Griffin Bell, a close Georgia friend of the president, on the flaws of the plan - and then gave Bell a helicopter ride to Langley for his appointment with Turner. "That was one of the few times I was glad that my name was Bobby Ray," the East Texas native once said....
William Casey, under whom Inman served as deputy at President Ronald Reagan's CIA, once called Inman "brilliant, brittle, a golden boy worried about his own image." Certainly Inman cultivated the press and Congress to a degree almost unprecedented in the intelligence world.

He did so at times in subtle opposition to Casey's penchant for stretching the law with covert action. Appearing with Casey before the Senate intelligence committee, according to committee member Joseph Biden, D-Del., Inman announced in body language when the panel was being misled.
"They'd be sitting there, and Casey would be lying like a son of a bitch, and I'd look at Inman," Biden recalled in an interview yesterday. "I'd say, `Is such and such a covert operation happening?' and Casey would be going mumble mumble mumble, and Inman would be reaching down pulling up his socks . . . It meant, `Take this with a grain of salt.' "
If Goldwater had had his way, Inman would have had Casey's job. After Reagan's election in 1980, Goldwater, then chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, lobbied hard for Inman.

"It's got to be Bobby," Goldwater said. In the Arizona conservative's view, Inman was a genius who understood politics and Congress as well he understood spy hardware and the military.

Inman, who turned down the deputy's job until Reagan told him flatly, "I need you," resigned quietly after a little over a year. In public he said only that he had lost his zest for bureaucratic fighting, adding that his relationship with Casey had been good if not close.
In fact, Inman said privately that Casey's "clandestine mindset" was out of control. He had grown deeply suspicious of a covert operation designed to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. When he learned the agency was preparing to funnel aid to disaffected Sandinista Eden Pastora, the notorious Commander Zero, he had a rare confrontation with a superior. He barged into Casey's office uninvited and asked unwelcome questions about the motives and legality of the plan....
When he left Washington in 1982, Inman told friends and reporters that he had no interest in returning to a government position - no matter what the post, and no matter who asked. In 1986, when one of the periodic reports circulated that Casey was going to quit or would resign, Inman repeated his pledge.

"I won't accept the nomination," he told one reporter. "I won't go to the confirmation hearing, and I won't serve." When that statement was not published, Inman said he was upset that no one believed him. Yesterday he stood next to Clinton and said, "I did not want the job."
Last August, it was announced that:
The Carlyle Group and Getty Images management have paid $3.3 billion to buy Getty Images from San Francisco-based investment firm Hellman & Friedman....The Getty acquisition is the latest in a flurry of deals by Carlyle. Last week, the firm bought a controlling interest in TCW Group from Societe Generale. Carlyle and TCW management and employees are thought to have paid about $700 million in cash, and some debt, according to people familiar with the transaction.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How the Military Goes Industrial

Denver airport mural
Let's look even deeper into the company for which Robert Milton Holmes, Jr. has worked for years. The father of the Batman assassin appears on the surface to be a a close-mouthed man, who still sports a military-style haircut, as shown in the following video taken the day he arrived at the occult-inspiring Denver Airport to see his son, then recently jailed on murder charges.

We discovered that the founding of HNC Software was steeped in military intelligence connections, as detailed in our last posting here.

This current post, titled "How the Military Goes Industrial," will outline a broadening search, showing how the military--or, in Orwellian doublespeak, the "defense" establishment--took over the most promising data management companies beginning around 1985 with the start of the "dot com revolution," the same year the first domain name was registered.

Arkansas banker Jackson Stephens
We would also do well to remember that these were the same years that the company called Inslaw was commissioned to develop software for President Reagan's Justice Department, which reneged on the deal and then stole the software called PROMIS from its creator and used it illegally. Hillary Clinton's law partner, Vince Foster, was working for Systematics, when
" a team of computer hackers and computer intelligence guys in the [George Bush administration's] CIA...between the election and the time that they [Bill and Hillary Clinton] went to the White House, ... and when Foster on July 1, 1993, bought a ticket to Geneva, a round-trip one-day ticket to Geneva, these guys said, "Oops, he's going to take the money. We're going to beat him to it." And, they went in. They hacked their way into the bank and obtained the necessary authorization codes on this coded account for which no signature is required to withdraw money, by the way.... They were able to effect their own technically legitimate wire transfer of this money back to the U.S. Treasury, where it sits in a holding account escrowed for use by the CIA.... $2.73 million."
Author Jim Norman
Jim Norman had the story about the Inslaw theft set to run at Forbes when it was suddenly pulled three days prior to print. As he explained, "Finally, I never got a good reason why my story didn't run at Forbes. Ultimately, they said, 'Oh, we didn't trust your sources.' But, actually what my immediate supervisor said, 'We can't say this about Systematics,' which was a big advertiser at Forbes, and we can't say this about the Israelis.' "

Millions of internet readers were enthralled back in those days by this further tidbit of gossip:
The Systematics contracts were overseen by Vince Foster and Hillary Rodham Clinton of the Rose Law Firm. Systematics provided data processing services and software to track the flows of money through banks, .... Vince and Hillary represented [Little Rock, AR-based] Systematics in the Jackson Stephens-Bert Lance-BCCI attempted takeover of First American Bank in 1978. Hillary also became self-taught in intellectual property law, important for a software company. Stephens had even picked up some neat software from Earl [Winfrey] "Cash" Brian who had once been influential at Beverly Enterprises at its Pasadena, California, headquarters. Jack Stephens had purchased 49 percent of Systematics for $400,000 in 1968, and it had since become one of the largest suppliers of retail banking software.

Wall Street-assisted Militarized police
As we follow up some 20 years later on all this, if we are to learn anything, it must be how that escrowed money stolen from those Swiss accounts was used by the CIA--or their money managers in general--to make even bigger money in Wall Street, capitalizing on technology initially funded by the military for top-security projects. With all that muscle at their disposal, we should not be surprised what they are able to accomplish, and whom they are willing to kill.

Digest this segment first (please don't neglect the embedded links!), and be ready to pick up the next installment very soon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

HNC's Military-Industrial Context

Robert M. Holmes, Jr.
James Eagen Holmes' interest in synthetic thinking, more commonly known as artificial intelligence, was handed down to him by his father, Robert Milton Holmes, Jr., who worked for HNC Software, a company which went public in 1995. HNC was acquired in 2002 by Fair Isaac Corp (now FICO). Research into this company for which the Aurora shooter's father worked after leaving the military is quite fascinating.

HNC Software Co.

HNC had been founded in 1986 by two scientists--Robert Hecht-Nielsen and Todd Gutschow--to develop, according to Dr. Gutschow's profile, "neural network applications in a number of industries including banking, insurance, direct marketing and retailing. Prior to starting HNC, Mr. Gutschow spent 3 years with TRW's Military Electronics and Avionics Division in San Diego."

That same year, TRW, where both Gutschow and Hecht-Nielsen were working, was involved in a mini-scandal.

The military contractor admitted overcharging the federal government two and a half million dollars for electronics and avionics contracts, while twelve "management employees" were disciplined, two  of whom were fired. The L.A. Times speculated correctly that one of the fired managers was Hugo Poza

The article related that TRW had established the branch in San Diego in 1981 "to pursue aircraft electronics work, as opposed to spacecraft and related electronics that is the mainstay of the Redondo Beach operation."

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) Project was established in 1973  in Redondo Beach (about midway between Los Angeles and Long Beach) and built by TRW, but was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002, the same year HNC Software was sold to Fair Isaac (FICO).

It was later revealed that, along with Poza, the other fired executive was Robert L. North, who told reporters those disciplined "were sacrificial lambs terminated by TRW to avoid government scrutiny." AP reported that "overcharging, first reported in an anonymous letter to the Air Force in September 1984, occurred primarily during 1983 and 1984."  North lived in Del Mar Heights, less than five miles from the Salk Institute. The name, TRW, came from Charles Thompson, Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge -- three men whose work led to the forming of the corporation.

Ramo and Wooldrige had worked for Hughes Aircraft Company, founded by Howard Hughes, Jr., who left his fortune to the medical foundation which helped fund the Salk Institute's summer program. It was as a summer intern at the Salk Institute near his home where James Hughes was inspired by his "mentor," John E. Jacobson, who has since attempted to free himself from any idealized role in James' life.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
A somewhat symbiotic relationship seems to have developed between Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Salk Institute. Although HHMI is based at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, it funds research grants at many other campuses. Trustees for HHMI are headed by Hughes' first cousin, Fred R. Lummis, who was an attorney at the time of Hughes death at the same firm where James A. Baker III was employed--Andrews, Kurth in Houston. Baker is also a trustee of HHMI. Their role is in coordinating the money left at Hughes' death throughout their huge empire of sometimes-frightening scientific projects.

At the time Howard Hughes, Jr. announced the Delaware incorporation of the medical foundation in 1954, the statement he issued clearly shows how little he knew of how his legacy was planned to be used by those who had set up the non-profit to receive all his assets upon his death:
Purpose of the foundation, according to a statement by Hughes, is to provide "millions of dollars for medical research to combat disease and human suffering." Neither Hughes officials, nor their public relations counsel would explain the effect of the corporate reorganization on management, finances or relationship to what was formerly the aircraft company's parent corporation, the Hughes Tool Co.
In 1953, according to a review for Hughes After Howard: The Story of Hughes Aircraft Company, by D. Kenneth Richardson, Howard had "virtually disappeared from the company he had begun in 1932. Under new, creative, and inspired management, Hughes Aircraft Company became the leading military electronics organization in the world."

Hughes is, unfortunately, a lesson better left for another day, though interested readers may be able to learn more by reading Linda Minor's article at Conspiracy Planet.

Robert L. North
According to a recent obituary, of a man named Robert L. Bob North, he "served in the Air Force with the Atlas and Thor missile programs, A and E Squadrons at Fairchild AFB and other bases in the USA and England." These two individuals may well be two entirely different men, but the coincidences are intriguing. For example, the wikipedia listing for the CIA-connected Hughes Aircraft states:
Howard Hughes, Jr.
In 1948 Hughes created a new division of the company, the Aerospace Group. Two Hughes engineers, Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge, had new ideas on the packaging of electronics to make complete fire control systems.... At the same time other teams were working with the newly formed US Air Force on air-to-air missiles, delivering the AIM-4 Falcon, then known as the F-98. The MA-1/Falcon package, with several upgrades, was the primary interceptor weapon system in the US for many years, lasting into the 1980s. Ramo and Wooldridge, having failed to reach an agreement with Howard Hughes regarding management problems, resigned in September 1953.

They founded the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, later to join Thompson Products to form the Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation based in Canoga Park with Hughes leasing space for nuclear research programs (present day West Hills (Canoga Park). The company became TRW in 1965, another aerospace company and a major competitor to Hughes Aircraft.Howard Hughes donated Hughes Aircraft to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1953 allegedly as a way of avoiding taxes on its huge income.
Thor missile
The Thor missile, a tactical ballistic missile, came along in 1954. It was designed by Nazi scientist, Dr. Adolph K. Thiel, of Ramo-Wooldridge for the U.S. Navy. Thiel is shown below as part of Dr. Werner von Braun's team of scientists. Space Technology Laboratories (STL, a subsidiary of TRW Inc.), which "had a symbiotic relationship with the Air Force," conceived one of the first space projects--the Pioneer 5 mission--for the newly chartered NASA in November 1958. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Space Technology Laboratories, whose project director was Dr. Adolph K. Thiel, supervised by Dr. John C. Lindsay at NASA. A document from 1959 posted online indicates that a contract between NASA and the Air Force's Ballistic Missile Division (ARDC) was subcontracted to the Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., of Los Angeles to provide systems engineering and technical direction for the Thor-Able III launching vehicle and the tracking and comunications network. STL had more than 50 scientific and industrial firms under its direction. The document described Thiel as follows:
A member of the German missile team that developed the V-2 rocket, Dr. Thiel received his M.S. and PhD. degrees from the Institute of Technology at Darmstadt, Germany. He has served as principal advisor to the Amy Ordnance Corps on technical matters of missile systems planning development and is a former member of the Army Ordnance Guided Missile Advisory and Evaluation Committee.

Dr. Adolph K. Thiel at Fort Bliss, 1946
We learn from Fairchild Air Force Base's website that this base where North had been assigned in 1961 housed:
the first "aerospace" wing in the nation with the acquisition of the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile. 
North--clearly the fall guy for the Air Force--only one month after pleading guilty to the fraud, was named as president of Hecht-Nielsen Neurocomputer Corp., where he had been working as a consultant immediately after his being fired from TRW. According to the Los Angeles Times report, HNC's "founders, Robert Hecht-Nielsen and Todd Gutschow, are both former employees at TRW's military electronics and avionics division in San Diego, where they worked on neurocomputers together." We can only wonder whether the money TRW employees ripped off from taxpayers went into creating HNC as a reward for those who took the fall for the Air Force, although some conspiracy-minded individuals may also question what was the role of the former Nazi scientists in the entire military-inspired space race, especially that of Dr. Thiel, who was so intricately connected with the TRW research.

Dr. Adolph Thiel

HNC founder, Robert Hecht-Nielsen
The brains allegedly behind the company where North went to work was Robert Hecht-Nielsen, a man born in San Francisco, California on July 18, 1947. The son of the Danish- born Robert Hecht-Nielsen and his keyboard-musician wife, young Robert was a toddler in San Francisco in 1950 when his father testified in a riveting murder case. A private security guard, Robert H. Richard, working as a bouncer in a cafeteria, killed Russell Cronin, 20-year-old nephew of a local judge, and Hecht-Nielsen, identified in the newspapers as "a middle-aged interior decorator," testified for the defense. He told the courtroom he saw the guard release Cronin, who was struggling with the defendant, and that Cronin shouted, "I will get you for this."

The shooting followed a second scuffle outside the cafe. Richard claimed self-defense, alleging Cronin had tried to gouge out his eyes. A different story had been told at the time of the arrest when police said that Richard followed Cronin from the establishment, grabbed his arm, and when Cronin "shoved his hands against Richard's chest," Richard fired. A second shot fired shortly thereafter killed Cronin. Despite the testimony of Hecht-Nielsen, the guard was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to San Quentin, where he had previously been a guard.

Robert became a naturalized citizen in 1941. His wife, the former Elizabeth Laing Wilson,  took their two sons to Denver, only a few years after the trial, where they were reared in her mother's home, according to an oral history given by Robert, Jr. in Talking Nets: An Oral History of Neural Networks (chapter 13, published by Bradford Books).

Flying spacecraft?

Elizabeth's father was a minister, Rev. James Edgar Wilson, who had been born in Canada around 1880 and died before his daughter was grown. He had arrived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan from Canada in 1909 and became a citizen ten years later in Illinois. Rev. Wilson married Jessie Laing, born 1890 in Michigan to Canadian parents, and they moved with their two children from state to state before his death. In 1930 the minister's family was in Pennsylvania, but beginning in 1931, Jessie Laing Wilson's name appeared in the Denver city directory until at least 1947 at 1668 St. Paul Street

Located near a large park on 17th Avenue in the northeast quadrant of Denver, Hecht-Nielsen's boyhood home is a mere six miles from Anschutz Medical School, where James Holmes was a student until last month.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why am I here?

A Simple Dream?
Can I have my Slurpee machine now?
The 18-year-old James Eagan Holmes who made a presentation as the Salk Institute's 2006 summer intern at Miramar College summer camp was introduced as being a boy whose dream was to own a Slurpee machine. Does that fact help to explain how he ended up as "The Joker" in the Aurora nightmare?

Video courtesy ABC News.

The New York Daily News reported that jailers have told journalists that Holmes, claiming to have no memory of the shooting, has repeatedly asked them why he is in jail. Strangely, there are other reports that he had mailed a package to a "psychiatrist (who is also a professor at the school)," who had not received it. The "notebook documenting the chilling details of Holmes's planned attack" was only discovered to have been sitting in the university mail room since July 12 after a fake package was received by the same psychiatrist on July 23 "reported receiving a package believed to be from Holmes." 

There is a story there somewhere that we have not yet heard. Who is this psychiatrist, who sent him a fake package, and why did the mail room fail to deliver the real parcel for eleven days?

We also want to know where and for whom James worked within the Anschutz campus, since according to a UPS driver, "Holmes had 90 packages delivered to his workplace on the University of Colorado medical campus."

Who Is James Holmes?

We know a few things about Holmes from the type of gossip that serves as news in the mainstream media. He graduated from the University of California, Riverside, and according to Pastor Jerald Borgie, he belonged to Penasquitos Lutheran Church for about 10 years; his mother, Arlene, attending every Sunday, in addition to being a volunteer.

We know his father, Dr. Robert M. Holmes, Jr.,  received a PhD in Statistics in 1981 from the University of California at Berkeley, began working for San Diego-based HNC Software, 2000, two years before the company merged with Fair Isaac Co. (now FICO). Robert's father was Lt. Col. Robert M. Holmes, Sr.--a 1948 Turkish language graduate of the Army Language School, later the Defense Language Institute, in Monterey, California.  

In 1980 Robert Jr.  co-authored with Chester Pabiniak a paper entitled, "Forecasting PCS ORT Moves Using Tree Classifications,"prepared for the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center in San Diego, California 92152-6800. According to its foreword: "The objective of this task was to develop a defensible method to forecast Permanent Change of Station (PCS) operational, rotational, and training (ORT) move counts for use in budget development." He is said by San Diego Reader editor Matt Potter to have a 
PhD in statistics from Cal-Berkeley, a Master's in biostatistics from UCLA, and a bachelor's in mathematics from Stanford. Over the last ten years, he has developed predictive models for financial services, and credit and fraud risk models. He is one of several scientists who patented a predictive model system used to detect telecommunications fraud.
Robert married Arlene Rosemary Eagan, who was born in Los Angeles in 1955, in the late summer of 1985. They had apparently met while students at Berkeley. They moved immediately after their marriage in Los Angeles to a small house in the Clairemont Mesa West section of San Diego and also lived in Crestmont, west of the current residence in Rancho Penasquitos

Between 1995 and 2001, the family lived in Castroville, California, where James Holmes went to elementary school. A  public records database shows Holmes' parents owned a home in Oak Hills there before moving back to San Diego in 2002.Both Crestmont and Rancho Penasquitos are a short distance north of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, formerly Naval Air Station Miramar, a United States Marine Corps installation that is home to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing--aviation element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

It was at nearby Miramar College in 2006 where the young James Holmes is shown in the video at the top of this page, talking about his mentor, John E. Jacobson.

Mediocre Student Intern?"
Los Angeles Times - July 22, 2012

A graduate student who worked with Holmes at the Salk Institute’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory had a far different view, recalling him as a “mediocre” student who was enormously stubborn.

“I saw a shy, pretty socially inept person,” said John Jacobson, now a PhD candidate at UC San Diego in philosophy and cognitive sciences. “I didn’t see any behavior that would be indicative of violence then or in the future.”

But “he should not have gotten into the summer program,” Jacobson said. “His grades were mediocre. I’ve heard him described as brilliant. This is extremely inaccurate.”

Jacobson said Holmes was accepted as the Salk Institute’s summer intern because at the time the Institute was not marketing its program to the top math and physics high school students. Holmes was accepted because his resume indicated he had done some computer programming, Jacobson told the Los Angeles Times. But his high school transcripts showed Bs and B+s, and no Advanced Placement classes, Jacobson said.

Jacobson said after that summer, administrators changed recruiting policies and now get applications from very high-level math and physics students.

In a video of a summer-end presentation, Holmes names Jacobson as his “mentor.”

“That is not true. That’s almost slanderous,” Jacobson said. “I was never his mentor.”

Holmes worked briefly for him over eight weeks that Jacobson described as very frustrating, characterized by the young man’s unwillingness to follow Jacobson’s suggestions — contrary to the usually engaging experience Jacobson said he’s had working with high school students.
“My experience with him was quite bad,” Jacobson said.

He said he set Holmes to work writing computer code for an experiment Jacobson had done involving a game of rock-paper-scissors, in which the computer always beats the human, no matter who goes first.
An event co-hosted last April by John Jacobson, now a PhD candidate at UC San Diego in philosophy and cognitive sciences
Sponsored by:
At this TEDx event, we will discuss the promise and consequences of technologies which will augment and radically transform our minds, bodies, and cultures. These technologies range from visor cellphones, through more intimate cyborg interfaces, across biotech, and to in-silico life. Many see these transformations as inevitable outcomes of accelerating technological development and global market conditions. This conference aims to go deeper than the shiny veneer of hype, to investigate the scientific states-of-art, ethical and existential ramifications, and socio-economic consequences of human enhancement technologies. We are interested in both local short-term effects and broad, longer term questions. Conference accompanied by a Transhuman Art Exhibition and snacks are provided.

(Published online 2004 April 14)

This research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (D.M.E. and T.J.S.) and a grant from the Chapman Foundation and NSF IGERT (J.E.J.). John E. Jacobson's address: Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, USA

Jacobson's co-authors in the above paper included the "renowned neuroscientist" Terry Sejnowski, whose "cutting edge research has unlocked many of the mysteries of the brain." He joined host, David B. Granet, M.D. of UCSD to discuss how and why people fall in love and other "mysteries of the brain." He also spoke in 2005 about how to predict the future.

Terrence Sejnowski's goal is to discover the principles linking brain mechanisms and behavior. His laboratory uses both experimental and modeling techniques to study the biophysical properties of synapses and neurons and the population dynamics of large networks of neurons.
Terrence J. Sejnowski, Christof Koch, Patricia S. Churchland, "Computational Neuroscience,"
SCIENCE, VOL. 241 - Sept. 9, 1988 

As of 1988, T. Sejnowski was in the Department of Biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218; C. Koch was with the Computation and Neural Systems Program at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125. P.S. Churchland was in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093.

The ultimate aim of computational neuroscience is to explain how electrical and chemical signals are used in the brain to represent and process information. This goal is not new, but much has changed in the last decade. More is known now about the brain because of advances in neuroscience, more computing power is available for performing realistic simulations of neural systems, and
new insights are available from the study of simplifying models of large networks of neurons. Brain models are being used to connect the microscopic level accessible by molecular and cellular techniques with the systems level accessible by the study of behavior.

UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN IS A CHALLENGE THAT IS attracting a growing number of scientists from many disciplines. Although there has been an explosion of discoveries over the last several decades concerning the structure of the brain at the cellular and molecular levels, we do not yet understand how the nervous system enables us to see and hear, to learn skills and remember events, to plan actions and make choices.

Simple reflex systems have served as useful preparations for studying the generation and modification of behavior at the cellular level (1).

In mammals, however, the relation between perception and the activity of single neurons is more difficult to study because the sensory capacities assessed with psychophysical techniques are the result of activity in many neurons from many parts of the brain. In humans, the higher brain functions such as reasoning and language are even further removed from the properties of single neurons. Moreover, even relatively simple behaviors, such as stereotyped eye movements, involve complex interactions among large numbers of neurons distributed in many different brain areas (2-4).

Explaining higher functions is difficult, in part, because nervous systems have many levels of organization between the molecular and systems levels, each with its own important functions. Neurons are organized in local circuits, columns, laminae, and topographic maps for purposes that we are just beginning to understand (5-8)
More later.....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The mind -- a terrible thing to make

Curt Suplee
Curt Suplee wrote the following article for the Washington Post, which was reprinted in the Syracuse, NY, Post Standard on October 9, 1986:

Neural Network
New Circuit Replicates Way Neurons Interact in the Brain

 © 1986 by Curt Suplee

A mind is a terrible thing to make. Or so we've long believed.

The prospect of machines that can actually think has vexed our fancy since the dawn of cybernetics, and haunted our pop mythology from "Forbidden Planet" to "2001: A Space Odyssey."

And it menaced again in the recent fad fervor for "artificial intelligence" programs, at least until apprehensive desk jockeys discovered that despite closet loads of AI software, their IBM PCs were still dumb as a toaster. 

But now a radically new form of computer architecture and a revolutionary conception of synthetic thought are bringing that prospect disconcertingly close to reality:
  • In Baltimore, a bucket of chips is teaching itself to read.
  • In Cambridge and San Diego, blindwires are learning to see in three dimensions.
  • And suddenly in labs across the country, formerly dreary and docile computers are becoming quirky, brilliant and inscrutable — becoming, in short, more like people.
Neural Network
At the heart of the new machines is a system called a neural network: a circuit designed to replicate the way neurons act and interact in the brain.

It differs from traditional system design as a conference call from a walkie-talkie; from traditional system behavior as an infant from an adding machine — it makes mistakes, finds solutions that are "pretty good" rather than perfect, can keep running even when badly hurt and organizes itself according to its own idiosyncratic rules.

Of course, it has its drawbacks. For openers, "It can't add 2 and 2," says Robert Hecht-Nielsen, manager of the electronic firm TRW's Artificial Intelligence Center at Rancho Carmel, Calif. "Don't have a neural net do your bank book." [Note: TRW's lab was at 1 Rancho Carmel  San Diego, CA 92128.]

Robert Hecht-Nielsen
"Our customers like the idea that it might be able to take a few bullets and keep on running." 

And don't count on it for your Christmas-card list. "Networks are more naturally suited to the kinds of problems that human beings are good at," says Johns Hopkins biophysicist Terrence Sejnowski.

T. Sejnowski
"We're not good at memorizing or doing arithmetic." Moreover, "it will make errors. But they're not errors that you'll be uncomfortable with."

This is a computer? Yes, but not like any you've seen. Almost every computing device in use today shares a common structure derived from the work of mathemetician John von Neumann (1903-57). All elements of the system are expressed in binary digits (0 or 1, on or off; hence the term "digital") and stored at specific memory addresses like Post Office pigeonholes.

All work is done through a single central processing unit (CPU) or main chip. When the software requests something, the CPU proceeds to locate the relevant units of data, pull them down, process them and then reach out for the next specified bunch.

Each transaction must be handled one after another by this postal-clerk CPU, whence the expression "serial" processing. It's .dandy for running a spread-sheet. But if your brain worked that way, it would take you a month to tie your shoes.

Fortunately, it doesn't. "Look closely at the brain," says Christof Koch of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, "and the distinction between hardware and software disappears" in what he calls a "computational soup." In the "wetware" of the human nervous system, there is no central processor. Each neuron is connected to as many as 1,000 others.

It collects two kinds of "input" — excitatory ("do something") or inhibitory ("stay cool") — from other neurons, then sums and processes those signals. Scientists struggled unsuccessfully for decades to duplicate this structure on computers. But in 1982 a Caltech biochemist named John J. Hopfield suggested a model, and interest revived with a fury.

Hopfield's prototypical neural network uses an amplifier to mimic the neuron's core, and a set of mathematical routines called algorithms to determine how each pseudo-neuron will process its data.

Incoming lines from other "cells" are run through a set of capacitors and resistors that control the neuron's resting threshhold. And to simulate the difference between excitatory and inhibitory signals, the amplifier has two output lines, one positive, one negative. Such systems are capable of astounding speed, because, as Hopfield and David Tank (of Bell Laboratories' Department of Molecular Biophysics) write in Biological Cybernetics, "a collective solution is computed on the basis of the simultaneous interactions of hundreds of devices" producing a sort of blitzkrieg committee decision.

Neural networks are besting mainframes at some of the toughest problems in the computational chipstakes. Astonishing new products are expected by the early '90s, and research is expanding in a dozen directions.

"Listen to that," says Johns Hopkins biophysicist Terrence Sejnowski, ear cocked toward the tape player. The sound is an eerie, tweetering gargle like some aborigine falsetto  — ma-mnamnamnaneeneenee-irmunu-bleeeeeeeeee.

"It's discovering the difference between vowels and consonants," Sejnowski says. He's listening to a neural network teaching itself to read aloud. Working with Charles R. Rosenberg of Princeton's Psychology Department, Sejnowski designed a network whose task was to learn to pronounce  correctly a group of sentences containing 1,000 common English words.

They had been read previously by a little boy, and a linguist had transcribed the boy's speech into phonemes (the discrete parts of words), which would serve as the benchmark for the network's accuracy. Sejnowski and Rosenberg fed the letters of each word sequentially into the network for processing by three successive tiers of proto-neuronal "cells," each of which receives data that "fan in" to it from various cells in the layer below, manipulate the data and then send the result up a level, finally exiting into a speech-synthesizer.

If the machine had "known how to read" from the outset, each of the cells would already have contained the correct program equations for assigning certain sounds to certain clusters of letters.

Instead, Sejnowski and Rosenberg filled the cells with mathematical garbage generated at random. The system was thus designed to begin in complete ignorance and "learn" just as a child does — by being told he is wrong. That is, the output end of the system would record each squawk the network sent to the speech-synthesizer, compare it with the correct phonemes recorded by the linguist and send an error signal to inform the network how far off it had been from the desired sound.

Through such correction, each of the system's 200 cells has modified its equations hundreds of times. The scientists know it has taught itself. But they don't know how. Nor can they predict exactly where in the mess it will store its knowledge.

"Cut just one wire on a conventional computer," says Sewjnowski, "and the machine will stop dead. But you can cut large sections out of this network, and it doesn't even feel it. It'll make a few more errors occasionally," like the brain after a concussion. "But no single connection is essential."

That's a net plus for TRW's Hecht-Nielsen, whose work is funded in part by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

"Our customers like the idea that it might be able to take a few bullets and keep on running."