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Taking a principled stand on Wikileaks
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:47 pm EST, Dec  9, 2010

I've changed by profile picture to support EFF's anti-censorship campaign, and I have donated $100 to their cause. This is a protest and I urge you to participate. We are protesting the use of political pressure by American politicians to shut down a website.

If you believe in due process of law and the right to freedom of expression you should join us in taking a stand. It is important that we take a stand right now.

It doesn't matter whether or not you support what Wikileaks is doing. If I were handed such a rich trove of private information I might have moral qualms about dumping the whole thing on the Internet. That is totally irrelevant.

In the United States of America we are a country of laws. If Wikileaks has violated a law than the appropriate way to respond to that is through the use of the legal system. In fact, like it or not, it is most likely the case that Wikileaks has not violated the law. Therefore, senior politicians in this country have taken it upon themselves to use their personal influence to shut the website down, and a number of corporations, large and small, have obliged them.

In a free country with a strong legal system and a tradition of upholding the right to freedom of speech, this sort of thing is not acceptable. Life, liberty, and property should only be taken away through due process of law and not simply because some powerful people desire it and present thin arguments in favor of it.

As The Internet Society recently stated in their newsletter:

[Wikileaks] must be subject to the same laws and policies of availability as all Internet sites. Free expression should not be restricted by governmental or private controls over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the Internet.

Unless and until appropriate laws are brought to bear to take the domain down legally, technical solutions should be sought to reestablish its proper presence...

Anger about these events runs deep. Right now, many of the companies who assisted in cutting off Wikileaks have been subjected to distributed denial of service attacks. While I share the anger of those who are launching these attacks, I cannot condon... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

Taking a principled stand on Wikileaks

The 100 Best Signs At The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear: Pics, Videos, Links, News
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:32 pm EDT, Oct 31, 2010

Best compilation I've seen floating around, but they missed God Hates Figs.

Seen any others?

The 100 Best Signs At The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear: Pics, Videos, Links, News

Siemens Provides Stuxnet Update | News | Automation World
Topic: Technology 1:28 am EDT, Sep 25, 2010

Siemens has isolated the virus on a test system to carry out more extensive investigations. Based on previously analyzed properties and the behavior of the virus in the software environment of a test system, this does not appear to be the random development of one hacker, but the product of a team of experts. The company suspects that this team is comprised of IT experts with corresponding engineering knowledge of industrial controls based on the virus deployment in industrial production processes.

The extent of the threat to industrial systems still posed by Stuxnet following the implementation of the security updates will, however, remain uncertain until further investigations into the Trojan and its mode of operation are complete. Siemens does not yet have any leads as to the source and origin of this malicious software, but analyses are ongoing.

This whole Stuxnet business is highly intriguing. For those not following it, I highly suggest Googling around about it. Bullets in the cyberwar are certainly whizzing by in all directions these days...

Siemens Provides Stuxnet Update | News | Automation World

Did federal government policy create the Great Divergence? (1) - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:23 am EDT, Sep 11, 2010

In 1915, ...the richest 1 percent possessed about 15 percent of the nation's income....Today, the richest 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation's income.

I haven't yet fact/back-checked all of the authors figures, but so far this is turning out to be a fascinating piece of journalism. Somewhat depressing, of course, but it contextualizes what we already know about stagnate real wages, income disparities in light of tax breaks for ultra-rich people, etc.


Did federal government policy create the Great Divergence? (1) - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine

RE: WikiLeaks disclosures are a 'tragedy' -
Topic: Society 12:20 am EDT, Aug 12, 2010

Decius wrote

I've purposefully avoided taking a position on the "Wikileaks - threat or menace" debate. Here, Rattle does:

I completely agree with Gen. Hayden's comments in this article. Wikileaks has been completely irresponsible. I don't see any positive side to the release of these documents.

Hayden's essay sure throws down a gauntlet at the hacker scene:

And all of this because of some corrupted view of the inherent evils of the modern state, a pseudo-romantic attachment to the absolute value of transparency, a casual indifference to inevitable consequences and a neurotic attachment to one individual's self importance. Rarely have we seen such a dangerous combination of arrogance and incompetence.

This isn't just a challenge to Wikileak's disclosure of this particular set of documents. This is a challenge to the idea of transparency itself. In this regard, Stratfor is wrong. The Wikileaks event isn't really about the war in Afghanistan - its about the Internet.

Apparently, this leak wasn't all that valuable to the general public. The event certainly has focused the public's attention on facts that insiders already know about the war, and the importance of the focus of the public's attention should not be underestimated. However, given that there is no great secret here that insiders were unaware of - this event represents an opportunity to debate the subject of freedom of information in a context where there is nothing to loose from siding with the establishment.

The results of this debate, in terms of public opinion, as well as the resulting legal framework within which the state can respond to public disclosures of this sort, will impact future situations in which the leak does matter to the general public, because it does reveal a secret that insiders weren't aware of.

In the world of the eternity service, ultimately, some things are going to be posted there that you'd rather not have out in the open. If you believe that there should be information resources that are beyond the reach of the state, you have to accept that. If you can't accept it, its all a matter of where and how to draw the line - the events of the past few weeks have circled around that very question.

So it doesn't really matter whether or not Wikileaks was irresponsible. It is inevitable that Wikileaks or someone like them is going to do something irresponsible, or at least something that a lot of people think is irresponsible. The important question is what ought to be done about it.

If you stop at simply deciding that you think Wikileaks was irresponsible, you avoid the opportunity to address the more important question being debated, and you concede the matter to a particular side by association.

The leaders of the Republican party have made their case - they would draw the line in such a manner that the military can use any and a... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

RE: WikiLeaks disclosures are a 'tragedy' -

YouTube - INCEPTION Trailer 3 - Official HD
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:36 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2010

Certainly worth the price of admission. Extremely intense intellectual scifi.

YouTube - INCEPTION Trailer 3 - Official HD

BBC News - Remaining impartial in the Middle East
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:14 pm EDT, Jun 10, 2010

As Tim Franks finishes his spell as the BBC's Middle East correspondent, he explains how his own background made it inevitable that some people would make certain assumptions.

First an admission: I am a Jew, and a journalist.

And now an apology: I hate the solipsistic writing I am about to be guilty of, where the journalist puts himself at the centre of the story.

But let me try to explain.

BBC News - Remaining impartial in the Middle East

BBC News - Bletchley Park WWII archive to go online
Topic: History 5:35 am EDT, Jun  5, 2010

Millions of documents stored at the World War II code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, are set to be digitised and made available online.

BBC News - Bletchley Park WWII archive to go online

BBC News - The joy of daydreaming
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:08 am EDT, May 31, 2010

Stillness, meditation, reflection, silence. Radio documentary maker Alan Hall goes in search of refuge from the noise and bustle of the modern world, looking for moments of peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life.

BBC News - The joy of daydreaming

BBC News - 'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists
Topic: Science 1:30 pm EDT, May 20, 2010

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

BBC News - 'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists

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