Wed - June 9, 2010

The internet scares the government

Any geek can tell you that the internet descends from the old ARPANET. THE major feature of the ARPANET was distributed networking. The idea was that if a node was busy or destroyed, the datastream would continue. There wouldn't be one central location, data would move between nodes as needed.

Today's internet and world wide web build on that idea.

I've covered the difference between hierarchal networks and distributed networks several times before. To summarize, a hierarchy depends on a "top-down" solution, and each ascending rank is correspondingly more powerful than the ones below. The nodes in a distributed network are less individually powerful, but the network itself is much more responsive and incredibly fault tolerant.

It's not that individual bloggers are all that much more capable than the institutional press, it's that there are many bloggers and oddball skills find niches that mainstream reporters would never cover. Remember that Rathergate started because someone knew about IBM Selectric typewriters, someone else knew about military forms from the 1970s, and someone else obsessed on Microsoft Word.

It's that lack of control that makes the politicos nervous. Who knows what the unwashed bloggers might say? Who knows what might become a soundbite overnight? Who knows where the news stories might lead?

That must be why the Imperious Leader and his Grand and Glorious Administration want to control that pesky internet thingy. You see, the internet is the last, best hope for freedom.

Central to all this freedom is your choice.

That is what scares the politicos.

That's why the government wants a press corps that it funds and licenses.

Choose for yourself.

I say KYFHO.

Posted Wed - June 9, 2010 at 01:29 PM  

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Sun - March 7, 2010

Internet tax for security? Survey says it's a tremendously bad idea


Microsoft exec pitches Internet usage tax to pay for cybersecurity

Government can't be trusted with security on the internet.

And government certainly can't be trusted to PAY for anything, much less security.

Remember, your government doesn't trust you and their security technology is far behind what is commercially available. So much so in fact, that government agencies regularly push for "back doors" in computers and networks.

Do you want to lose control over your data AND be taxed for the privilage?

Posted Sun - March 7, 2010 at 02:07 PM  

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Mon - February 8, 2010

It will be abused

Hey, you know what? It's time to play Compare the Quotes again!

Here's the first quote.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Here's the second quote.

But cybercrime investigators are frustrated by the speed of traditional methods of faxing, mailing, or e-mailing companies these documents. They're pushing for the creation of a national Web interface linking police computers with those of Internet and e-mail providers so requests can be sent and received electronically.

Now we know as recently as last week, once the provisions for such power exists, it will be abused.

It's also fairly easy to see that it's unconstitutional.

The "authorities" won't be satisfied until they can watch every single person in real time. Then they'll get serious.

After all, what do you have to fear if you're not guilty?

Welcome to the future, Citizen.

I've told you before that the internet is the last, best hope for human freedom. That's only true if law enforcement is kept tightly leashed and intelligence is kept away.

They are AFRAID of ideas. Monitoring the internet is not the goal. Control is.

Posted Mon - February 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

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Mon - October 5, 2009

Changing history

Seems like "the newspaper of record" wants to make sure of it's history.

Even if it has to rewrite it.

Sanitized for your protection. And the reputation of the New York Times.

Posted Mon - October 5, 2009 at 01:21 PM  

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Mon - September 14, 2009

What's in a number?

I didn't follow the 9-12 meeting in Washington D.C. Obviously I wasn't going to be there.

Now I've heard all sorts of things about how many people were actually there. Originally I heard 2 million, but that number vanished pretty quick (apparently it started with ABC and Michelle Malkin). And there have been some valid criticisms of the photos shown. Apparently the capital police said 1.2 million.

But the exact numbers aren't the interesting bit to me.

Imagine if a couple of years ago, sixty thousand people had gathered in Washington to protest something that Bush had done.

How many stories do you think would have been on the evening news? How many pages would the New York Times give to the protests? How many times would we have been told that each person at the protests represented X number back home, and we should take the grass roots protest seriously?

Well, guess what.

Something very unusual is going on here.

And the reactions of the press tell me more than I need to know.

Posted Mon - September 14, 2009 at 11:45 AM  

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Tue - June 23, 2009

My simple plan to cut down on carbon, provide power, save the economy, lower taxes, and earn high profits

So I got an email complaining that I never give any practical ideas for saving the planet.

Here's one for your consideration.

If I had the money, I'd start a car company. But I wouldn't begin with cars.

No, I'd target long haul truckers.

We know that there is no way under any foreseeable technology for the next 25 years that there would be a battery system that could support an 18-wheeler doing a cross country trip if the truck used electric motors.

A while back I was reading that it was possible to build a nuclear reactor about the size of a refrigerator that you could bury in your back yard. So let's junk the batteries and start with that. Make it overpowered. Pair it with a flywheel system that could bleed off the extra power. Make it safe enough to withstand impacts and accidents.

Replace as much of the transmission, gears, and braking with heavy duty electrical motors that you could so that the truck and it's APC ran from the sealed reactor and the flywheel.

Now here's where the fun part comes in. The truck generates electricity whether it's moving or not. So when it's parked at a truck stop or at a warehouse or where ever, it's plugged into the power grid. The local utility pays the parking spot owner. The parking spot owner pays the truck owner.

Bam! Reliable power. Money changes hands. Profit. No carbon.

More important to me, no smelly diesel fumes.

Think about those implications for just a moment. Whenever someone needs emergency power, they pay a truck driver to park for a while. With a little bit of work, city electrical grids could be designed to be isolated and run off of trucks instead of the central utilities.

Once these electrical trucks have proven the concept, we add city buses and other large scale vehicles.

Then we work on scaling the whole thing down to passenger vehicles.

Same deal though. When the car is parked, it pumps power back into the grid.

The overall effect to do away with most gasoline and diesel engines and let people earn cash with their cars. This would decentralize the power grid.

Nearly everyone wins.

Posted Tue - June 23, 2009 at 01:41 PM  

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Mon - June 1, 2009

Australia censoring more than child porn

Oh my, big surprise.

Less Than A Third Of Australia's Censor List Actually About Underage Images

Nope, didn't see that one coming. Not at all.

I'd say it's more proof that government can't be trusted with morality.

Posted Mon - June 1, 2009 at 12:44 PM  

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Thu - May 14, 2009

No, you are NOT hearing protests in China. Pay no attention to the noises behind the curtain…

I keep telling people to watch China, and they keep telling me that I don't know what I am talking about.

It seems that there is a freedom movement brewing. It's just being hidden by China's rulers. But we knew that.

Odd how the American labor unions are so very, very quiet on this subject, isn't it?

Let freedom ring.

Posted Thu - May 14, 2009 at 06:44 AM  

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Mon - April 27, 2009

Free Market Rebellion Dispatch #3

As tempting as it is, I really don't want to see the Free Market Rebellion organized on a large scale. I really don't want to see anything except the most basic coordination for anything beyond the local level.

I admit that there is a part of me that would love being anointed as a Leader of the Not-So-Loyal Opposition. Lights, Camera, Soundbite! There I would be, another proud Gray Rider crusading for liberty and freedom.

But in order to understand what has to happen, we have to examine the tactics and organization of Our Enemy the State. By default, the various levels of government in the U.S. are set up to handle an organized resistance. Oh, not always by brute force. The 1994 "Republican Revolution" in the House of Representatives was suborned by the existing political, bureaucratic, and mercantile power structures, none of whom wanted a significant change to the status quo. The offer starts out simple, a little change or delay today in exchange for not taking a stand. Negotiations for the rest can wait a bit. That's how the game is played.

It's a way that is just paved with good intentions. Seven layers deep. Meanwhile the movement is effectively derailed.

Think about it. We have local authorities. We have state authorities. We have Federal authorities. And somewhere in the clockwork of each interlocking hierarchy there is the power to confiscate, imprison, or kill if you don't play along. All perfectly legal of course.

But what they need more than victory today is a very public monster. Someone they can pillory. A scapegoat sacrificed to keep the mob from looking too close.

A National Conspiracy plays right into that. Our Enemy the State needs a highly visible threat. Otherwise the public may just start looking hard at the State.

I propose something different. A little sawdust here. Some maple syrup substitute poured into the oil there. A little superglue squirted into a lock over there. A dropped weight cracking a pipe up here. Uncountable acts of sabotage by individuals. Every single one provoking the Expanding State to reach out for more power, more Authority. Until at last it's obvious to everyone that the existing State can't be trusted.

I don't want to reform the system.

I want to poke and prod the system into collapsing of it's own weight.

I want seven thousand revolutionary groups, each with it's own goals and strategies.

I want people demanding freedom on the street, at football games, in bars, and in their dreams.

I want a distributed resistance that the Our Enemy the State can't focus on and can't afford to ignore. What good is a tank if the target is spread throughout the countryside? The State may be able to focus absolutely devastating force, but only if they know where to aim. Destroy one group when there are forty-two others in the same state doing the same thing?

You see, I already have my Public Monster. I'm just making sure it's too big to hide behind something else.

Let them come. Let Our Enemy the State look for the Opposition National Leaders to drag before the Talking Heads of Television.

And the "little guys" will say "Enough."

That is when the State will fall.

Posted Mon - April 27, 2009 at 04:06 PM  

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Wed - April 22, 2009


The other day I ran into a spirited online discussion. It started by comparing how a young Eastern European man views freedom vs the typical American view. All that was pretty interesting, especially the point that many Americans take freedom and liberty for granted precisely because they don't have to fight for it.

But then the discussion shifted to "cultural rot."

That's one of the lines I watch closely for, it tends to justify outlawing the things that the writer/speaker doesn't agree with.

Some of the more shall we say "enthusiastic" Pagans don't agree with my writings because I am not progressive in my politics. To hear them say it, I should not be heard. I'm contributing to the problem, you see.

Some of the more "enthusiastic" conservatives don't agree because of my religious views, not to mention my beliefs about nudity and sex. To hear them say it, I should not be heard. I'm contributing to the problem.

And the modern liberals don't like me because I don't think that free markets are responsible for the evils of the world. To hear them say it, I should not be heard. I'm contributing to the problem.

In any discussion of "cultural rot," I'm sure to be near the top of somebody's hit list. I'm used to it by now, it gives me a nice view of alternative ideas.

It's too easy to say "This is destroying our way of life!"

Let's take the easy shot and get it out of the way. What if American's decided tomorrow that only "mainstream" religions will be allowed?

Okay, fine.

Is Reform Judaism a part of that list?

What about the Baptists?

And then what about the Buddhists?

Once we've established non-Aramaic faiths, what Wiccans? And if you include Wiccans, do you include the Church of the Sub-Genus and those who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster? What about all those self-proclaimed Jedi?

Let's move on to entertainment.

I can't stand American Idol. I say we do away with it. It's a combination of a waste of time and blatant emotional manipulation of the audience.

Of course that would probably be enough to get me lynched.

TLC has a show What Not To Wear. That's another I can't stand. But my mother enjoys the hair and makeup segments. If I banned that show, she would take me to task. So I just know enough to avoid her house when she's home and it's time for that show.

I appreciate fine architecture. Most of the homes built today in America aren't very good. Very few of the offices are worth anything other than warehouse space. And don't get me started on big box monstrosities that offend all common sense. Let's rip them all down.

Get the picture here?

No matter what we do, chances are we'll offend someone's taste. What you like isn't necessarily what I like. I could care less about something that is vitally important to you.

In the discussion I quoted the entry Testing, testing, one two three from Technopagan Yearnings, my other blog. So here's a slightly expanded version of the same quote. And since it's me I'm quoting, I get the Official Technopagan Green.

You can't have the exceptional discovering the right answers without A LOT of the unexceptional stumbling around with the wrong ideas.

Think of it as a signal to noise ratio. You can't turn up the volume and only get the good stuff. Sheer amplification increases the static too.

And as much as I personally would love to premptively cut out the nonsense so we can concentrate on the "important stuff,' it wouldn't work. That nonsense is absolutely necessary to put the good ideas and practices in context. That nonsense is also absolutely necessary to frustrate the exceptional so they come up with new ideas.

I come from a long line of farmers. My maternal grandfather stopped being a farmer when they moved to Arizona, but after he retired he gardened on about an acre and a half until he died. Good farmers and good gardeners will tell you that concentrating on just one crop doesn't work well. Some plants put nitrogen into the soil, some take it out. Some put certain nutrients into the soil while taking certain others out, others take out different nutrients and put still more back into the soil. Some years it's best to let the field lay fallow. And you still can't control what your neighbor grows, or if his crop is better than yours.

One of my root beliefs is that if I can't convince you to change your mind, I have no business trying to force you. If my ideas have any worth, they have to be able to stand on their own merit.

Sometimes life conflicts with my ideas and I have to change them or drop them entirely because they don't work. Ideas HAVE to be constantly tested and tempered by experience to prove themselves. It's an ongoing test, a trial by fire and ice that never really ends.

For an idea to be good, it has to stand out in the nonsense and noise.

Here's the thing that most people forget. We don't always know if an idea is good until years or decades or centuries later. The good ideas will stick around, being tested, becoming part of other ideas. The bad ideas will weed themselves out.


But that means that at any given time, there is never going to be only Truth and Perfection. There will be a few good ideas in a sea of nonsense. Our part is not to judge which ideas will stay, but to use the ideas that work today.

See? It's not moral failure, it's opportunity.

Where other people see rot, I see fertilizer!

Posted Wed - April 22, 2009 at 02:44 PM  

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Wed - April 1, 2009

Free Market Rebellion Dispatch #2

The site looks funky for April 1st, but the news and views are no joke.

Tea Party
Unlike many demonstrations Americans have experienced over the last few decades, the Tea Party movement is "bottom up." There is no national group or groups giving instructions. There have already been successful events in several states, most with a healthy turnout. Even if they didn't make the news, some politicos are definitely nervous.

As April 15 fast approaches, expect more protests. Expect most of the media to downplay their impact. But most importantly, watch their impact on the people who attended. These people want change, not the appearance of change.

And if you miss the fun, don't worry. Protests in some states happen on July 4th.

Officially the various governments are keeping keeping quiet, but it's no secret that inflation is going to rise and rise fast. Most of the numbers I have been hearing are 13% by the end of December. Depending on the state you live in and the idiocy of your legislature, yours may end up even higher.

Most state governments are running a serious deficit and almost none seem willing to cut spending. Certain goods and services are already climbing in price.

Watch your insurance rates. An unsubsidized insurance company may find it impossible to stay in business.

General Motors Bailout
So if GM does declare bankruptcy and the Administration is admitting that was a possibility all along, what was the point of spending billions of your dollars? Besides protecting UAW contracts (which wouldn't have had as strong protections in bankruptcy court), the real goal was to put UAW representatives, environmentalist activists, and certain allies of the Democrat party firmly in control of what used to be the world's largest company.

The cars the "new" GM makes may not sell, but the law can be changed to fix that too.

Feets, don't fail them now
Rush Limbaugh is just one of the latest rich moving from high tax states. The radio host usually broadcasts from Florida, using New York City as a "hurricane refuge." Both New York State and NYC demand that Limbaugh prove just how many days he's in NYC so they can assess taxes. With a new "tax the rich" plan working it's way through Albany, Limbaugh has announced he's looking for a new refuge.

NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has previously gone on record saying that the city depends on the income tax of approximately 50,000 citizens to bankroll almost all it's operations, and neither the state nor the city of New York could long survive if those people relocated.

Iowa legislature doesn't want to hear from protesters
In a move that will almost certainly backfire, Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy ordered the chambers cleared after the proceedings were interrupted several times by protesters. The more than 500 citizens did not take kindly to being forcibly removed by Iowa State Troopers.

The top of the list for the Iowa house was a set of bills that would end Federal deductibility. Under existing law, Iowans could deduct the amount they paid in Federal income taxes from the state income tax.

Up in smoke
As of today, April 1st, the Federal tobacco tax went up almost 62 cents per pack of cigarettes.

During the campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly promised that families making less than $250,000 per year would not see any of their taxes increase.

"Sin taxes," such as those on tobacco, have long been recognized to impact the "poor" the most.

Carbon tax
Expect the G20 meetings to "reaffirm" support for the next proposals to control carbon and save the environment, even if the treaty has not officially be signed yet.

But when it comes to cap and trade, there's really only one word you need to remember.


The now defunct company made the big time by trading electricity and gas throughout the United States.

One big fact that almost no one is willing to talk about is that Enron executives proposed the carbon cap and trade scheme as part of the Kyoto Protocol. Enron wasn't actually going to reduce carbon emissions, they were just going to profit selling unused carbon emission allowances to companies and governments that needed them.

Of course no one knew then (or now) how to measure carbon emissions, much less the long term effect those emissions may have on the environment.

Just remember this is the same type of accounting scheme that made Enron possible.

More dispatches as the news becomes available.

KYFHO, now and forever.

Posted Wed - April 1, 2009 at 01:40 PM  

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Great Song

More this afternoon, but resetting the site for April 1st takes a lot of time.

Posted at 08:25 AM  

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Mon - March 30, 2009

Why does your enlightenment demand that I sacrifice?

I grew up watching Star Trek.

More than that, I grew up reading some of the best fiction available. But I wasn't picky. I'd read almost anything. To this day, if I eat alone, I'm reading.

Yes, the literature was great. Arthur Conan-Doyle. Mark Twain. Jules Verne.

Because that was the stuff that really got me going. Science fiction.

Oh sure, fantasy was great. But it was science fiction that was just around the corner. It was science fiction that showed what could happen. It was science fiction that captured my dreams early. It was science fiction that made me a libertarian.

Before the fall of Richard Nixon, it seemed to this kid like anything was possible. Tommorrowland was out there and it was bursting with abundance. Before you know it, we were all going to have flying cars in the garage. There was going to be a spaceport on the Moon. Mars would have it's bases and eventually it's cities. We'd mine the asteroids and explore the deepest oceans. And if we met the UNKNOWN, well, we'd take it's measure and move forward.

Just because we could you see. It's what Red Blooded Americans did. And if someone didn't like it, we'd spit in their eye and do it anyway. Twice on Sunday.

So I grew up watching Star Trek. I loved those characters. There was Kirk, American Eagle to the core, and not above pulling the occasional flim-flam to get his way. Spock, the walking encyclopedia who divorced himself from his emotions in the name of reason. McCoy the empathizer. And Scotty, the worker of miracles and my personal favorite.

It all flowed you see. It all fit. It was going to happen.

I was four years old when we landed on the moon. A very precocious four, with Asperger's syndrome yet. Patterns, especially predictable patterns are vitally important to Aspies. Breathing is more important, but not by much.

The moonshot was the first concrete evidence that my future dreams were unfolding exactly as they were supposed to.

But then Nixon fell, undone by his own hubris and the political undertows of a schizoid American public.

And the dreams had to get smaller. We had to, we were guilty of tramping other dreams. Americans were told that we weren't allowed to be exceptional anymore.

The American dream would have to be sacrificed to atone for our sins.

Anything Americans had in abundance, especially "white" Americans, had to have been stolen from someone else. Americans didn't deserve their Dream. Americans didn't deserve the future. Americans didn't deserve to prosper.

We pulled back inside ourselves.

Until Reagan told us it was morning.

But after Reagan, we retreated again. We let ourselves be limited by our fears. We let go of the future. We almost forgot that freedom makes us great.

And then 9-11 happened. That would have destroyed most other nations. It just pissed us off. By October 1st, 2001, Americans were ready to take the world apart and put it back together in our own image. And we almost set out to do exactly that and be damned with the consequences.

But no, we had to be multi-lateral and multi-national and multi-phasic and multi-tasking and multi-cultural and multi-apologetic.

Freedom and liberty have always been our beacons. That's when Americans are at our best. That's when we change the world for the better.

But when we take our eyes off those beacons, we lose track of the future. We undo the things that make us stronger.

In the name of fairness, we subsidize water and power to millionaire farmers. We build cities in the desert that can't support them. And then when the supply gets tight, do we let the prices rise? No, we put in low flow toilets.

We start legislating the color of cars and the tire pressure.

We argue if kids taking nude pictures of themselves should be charged with child pornography.

We give up our responsibility to an ever expanding state.

We lose the future.

We lose the Dream.

I say we take it back. Not the old Americans can trump anything dream, but the older one. The one that invokes Lady Liberty and her sister Lady Freedom.

We can make things better tomorrow. But not if we limit ourselves today.

Raise your eyes above your feet.

Raise your eyes above the horizon.

Raise your eyes to the STARS.

That's where we need to be.

I'm taking my dreams back. You can share them if you want. But don't buy into this sacrifice "for the greater good."

If you choose to sacrifice to make things better, you should make the choice of what to sacrifice, how to sacrifice, and when to sacrifice. It's your choice.

Not the choice of some idiot Congresscritter or deluded FedGov functionary.

Otherwise it's theft. Not just of the sacrifice, but of your dreams. It's theft of your tomorrows. Take your choices back. Don't let the State steal your future.

You want hope? You want change?

It starts and ends with your choice.

Make it a damn good one.

Posted Mon - March 30, 2009 at 01:40 PM  

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Mon - March 16, 2009

Free Market Rebellion Dispatch # 1

There are people I track.

Oh, nothing illegal. It's all done using publicly available information. Just as there are some people who I think have the right idea, there are others who I do not trust. I like to know which public figures are likely to speak and what they have supported in the past. A few years back, Chuck Norris and his wife started pushing for prayer in public schools. They're entitled to their opinion, but they aren't entitled to do anything about it. So he earned a spot on my Watch List.

Actually there shouldn't be public schools, but that is another entry.

So on Friday, I started laying the groundwork to explain the Free Market Rebellion and why I think it's different from what has passed before.

Trust Chuck Norris to complicate things.

Armed rebellion is an incredibly dangerous thing. Given American history (Whiskey Rebellion, American Civil War, Bonus Army) I give Norris's plan about a seven percent chance of success, assuming that a majority of Texans agree and the public reaction of Oklahoma and Arkansas.

More to the point, armed rebellion will just get people killed.

Norris is missing the point though. Short of armed rebellion, he would be happy with getting the "right" guy in the White House.

It's the top down solution, and it's destined to failure.

Instead we should go with distributed networks.

In a top down hierarchy, orders and instructions flow from the top.

A distributed network is fault tolerant, self-correcting, and adaptable.

And there isn't one leader or one group of leaders that can be taken out.

Look at what's happening now. We have Norris of course.

We have Rush Limbaugh chortling at all the publicity that the Obama administration has handed him, not to mention the chance to give "his" message.

We have Rick Santelli.

We have the tea party protests. The really interesting thing here is that unlike some of the liberal protests over the last couple of decades, the people in this protests won't be satisfied with good intentions.

And there is rumbling Obama buyer's remorse.

These are just some of the things I have been tracking since the election.

Add Obama's penchant to say the "feel good" phrases while expanding the state and diminishing freedom, and that nasty little habit he has of adopting the Bush policies and changing the names.

Make no mistake here.

The problem is not Obama, the Grand and Glorious Imperious Leader.

It's government.

It's not enough to get Obama out of office.

Government has to fail. There is no other way to get freedom and liberty back.

Armed confrontations will just give the government the excuse to suppress it's critics. And a frightened populace will support that.

We can't give the FedGovs a legitimate target to focus on. That is why the information flow is so vital. If one node is crushed mercilessly, three others will pass the word and four new ones will sprout forth.

Meanwhile, taxes are already drying up. Which means that there won't be money to pay the various FedGov agents.

And the Stainless Steel Rat bit is taking root. People are burrowing out from inside the system itself.

It's a rebellion that the Federal government is ill-equipped to confront.

It's built on choice and individual liberty.

KYFHO now and forever.

Posted Mon - March 16, 2009 at 01:35 PM  

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Wed - March 11, 2009

People should control their own data

I really believe people should have control over their own data. So here's a link that tells you how to delete your accounts from almost any website.

Hat tip sunfell.

Posted Wed - March 11, 2009 at 04:08 PM  

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Tue - September 9, 2008

"Dude, I'm not doing science. I'm just cheating the game!"

Every once in a while I luck out and find an article I can use in two different blogs.

Like this one.

But they were pretty good at figuring out how to defeat the bosses. One day she found out why. A group of them were building Excel spreadsheets into which they'd dump all the information they'd gathered about how each boss behaved: What potions affected it, what attacks it would use, with what damage, and when. Then they'd develop a mathematical model to explain how the boss worked -- and to predict how to beat it.

Often, the first model wouldn't work very well, so the group would argue about how to strengthen it. Some would offer up new data they'd collected, and suggest tweaks to the model. "They'd be sitting around arguing about what model was the best, which was most predictive," Steinkuehler recalls.

That's when it hit her: The kids were practicing science.

They were using the scientific method. They'd think of a hypothesis -- This boss is really susceptible to fire spells -- and then collect evidence to see if the hypothesis was correct. If it wasn't, they'd improve it until it accounted for the observed data.

This led Steinkuehler to a fascinating and provocative conclusion: Videogames are becoming the new hotbed of scientific thinking for kids today.

Read the article, then read the comments.

I want to make a couple of points.

First of all, there is no doubt that these kids are thinking critically and scientifically, even if it is within the framework of a video game.

Second, notice the immediate dismissals because the mere idea of computer games having any sort of value. Not to mention that it goes against accepted academic educational theory.

I say results are where you find them. And if statistical observation and pattern analysis can be taught in a game, so much the better.

Oh, and to Hillary Clinton and all those other self-important legislators who have tried over the years to ban violent games, I have a special message.


Posted Tue - September 9, 2008 at 12:16 PM  

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Tue - November 13, 2007

Controlling the internet

I'll agree that the U.S. often gives lip service (pun intended) to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.


With all that being said, there is no one I distrust less to control the internet domains and domain servers.

Who else could do it?

The U.N. with their record of wasting cash and providing no transparency?


Who would you trust?

Posted Tue - November 13, 2007 at 02:31 PM  

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Big Brother Knows All

Is it too early to say I told you so? The FedGovs are spying on you.

There is a simple solution that no one wants to talk about.


Posted at 02:11 PM  

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Mon - July 16, 2007

Can't control the news

There are times I really really LIKE being right. This is one of them.

The internet and other technologies such as cellphones are making it increasingly difficult for China's authorities to control negative news, according to a top government official.

"It has been repeatedly proved that information blocking is like walking into a dead end," the state-run China Daily newspaper quoted Wang Guoqing, a vice minister with the State Council Information Office, as saying.

Wang says local governments need to be more transparent, describing some as being "too naïve" in thinking they can simply hide damaging information.

Wang reportedly revealed that some local government representatives used to believe that 90% of bad news could be concealed, and only 10% would be unluckily exposed by the media. He cited the recent case of a slavery scandal that emerged in China's Shanxi and Henan provinces as proving that bad news needs to be managed, rather than covered up.

Transparent information and the internet are the planet's last, best hope for freedom. I've said it before, and I keep getting proven right.

The really amazing thing is that the benefits to individuals aren't limited to those who live under repressive regimes. It works great for democratic nations too.

Freedom is too big to control, so we had better just let it ring.

Posted Mon - July 16, 2007 at 04:28 PM  

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Sun - May 20, 2007

Ah, the delicious irony

It's hard to fault Yahoo! in this case.

INTERNET companies including Yahoo! are hindering police investigations into child abuse by closing down the undercover identities used by officers to trap paedophiles.

British child protection police habitually pose as children online, using false profiles to ensnare abusers trying to groom girls and boys for sex.

But the companies say they will shut down all bogus identities on their sites even if they know they are being run to catch paedophiles.

“Everybody using our service, regardless of whether they are law enforcement agencies, has to abide by our terms of service and if they don’t we will close them down,” said Yahoo!.

Its terms of service state that all information used to make up a profile must be “true, accurate current and complete”.

The stipulations are intended to protect users from exploitation and abuse, but antiabuse campaigners say they are frustrating police sting operations on hardcore offenders.

Why should police have special privileges not available to the general public? Why should a private company overlook abuses of services just because it is government agents?

Yes, I know it is that old saw about "protecting the children," but without that justification, doesn't Yahoo! owe it's customers protection from frauds online?

Posted Sun - May 20, 2007 at 02:31 PM  

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Tue - April 17, 2007

Blogging anonymously

Of course, there is no need to do this in the United States.


It's good to know though that people are working around censorship.

Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia: they are all popular with holiday makers but they also censor and even lock up journalists and bloggers.

This is why the media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, has published The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents.

"There is another side to the picture post-card," said Robert Menard, secretary general, Reporters Without Borders. "There are around 100 people in jail in Tunisia and the entire media is controlled by the powers that be and there are bloggers who have been locked up just for criticizing the Tunisian president."

In many countries a journalism student covering a demonstration of school children would be commended for his initiative.

In Syria, student Mesud Hamid posted photos on the net of Kurdish pupils demanding equal rights. He was arrested while taking an exam at university.

Here's where you can find the Reporters without Borders homepage.

And of course here is where you can find the new publication.

A free press can help keep government honest.

Posted Tue - April 17, 2007 at 12:55 PM  

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Sat - March 31, 2007

Censorship failing, bit by bit

Now this is promising.

As the internet enters its second decade as a mass medium, it's worth looking back at one of the old saws that was bandied around in the covered-wagon days, when Californian sages made gnomic pronouncements about the future and the rest of the world repeated them at dinner parties. "The net treats censorship as damage and routes around it." These are the words of John Gilmore, radical libertarian, Sun Microsystems employee number five and bona fide west-coast guru-gazillionaire, and for much of the last 10 years they've been repeated as part of the founding story of the internet, along with a gloss about the net's inception as a military communications network designed to withstand partial destruction by nuclear attack.

In a technical sense, Gilmore (who was talking to a Time magazine journalist in 1993) has been proved right. The internet has provided an efficient conduit for people to share all manner of information other people don't want them to, whether those people are government whistle-blowers, child pornographers, political dissidents, intellectual property pirates or terrorists. From the Drudge Report to beheading videos, censorship is being successfully circumvented around the globe. Looked on from the neutral standpoint adopted by network engineers, this is proof of a robust system. Ethical or political judgements about the content of the information flowing through the networks aren't relevant. It's all data. We should celebrate.

However, around the world, people have also discovered that, despite the abstractions of network architecture and the nostrums of boosters who predicted a "new economy" free of material constraints, the internet is also a physical thing, which has its existence on real telephone lines, internet service provider (ISP) routers, undersea fibre-optic lines and hard drives humming under tangible desks. And it's used by people sitting in real offices with real doors that can be broken down by all-too-real police if the information they're sharing contravenes local laws - and in some cases even if they don't, but some foreign power strong-arms their government, as happened in Sweden in May 2006, when US diplomats incited a police raid on an ISP hosting a popular file-sharing service called the Pirate Bay. The internet's ability to route round censorship has the character of an ideal rather than a reality, a theoretical property.

The article examines some Chinese censorship practices, you should probably read it just for that.

But I want to take a step back into fuzzy math and chaotic systems for just a moment here. In a distributed network, the channel distance isn't as important as the channel accuracy. If you shout out from the next street over but I can't make out what you said, that does me no good. But if you called me on your cell phone through the cell towers to the switching office and down the phone lines to my kitchen phone, the information is accurate even though it may have had to travel miles "out of the way" to get to me.

The next thing to remember is the connectivity. The web is the best modern example of this. Clicking on the word "Buick " takes you straight to the Buick web site. On the other hand, this "Dodge" link is miscoded (purposely in this case) and won't do what it says. And of course, there is nothing to stop you from searching on any word you run across, with or without a link. Often I run across interesting book titles in the web articles I read, and usually I take a quick break to look at Amazon and get some info about the book.

The third thing to remember is that even the absence of information is information. Say I gave you a puzzle in which all the blue pieces had been removed. You would still get a rough idea of the shape of anything blue in the puzzle. If we increase the granularity so that each puzzle piece was only one pixel, you would get a very good idea of the shape. If we got even more specific and removed just a specific shade of blue, the detail still goes up.

Likewise, you can't talk about communism without touching on capitalism, and that leads to all sorts of information about liberty and freedom.

Given time, people will find ways around any restrictions nations try to put on the internet. Information will flow. And in order to be accurate, it will have to be as detailed and as connected as possible.

Listen to that freedom ring.

Posted Sat - March 31, 2007 at 05:21 AM  

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Thu - March 15, 2007

The threat of web censorship

Yep, repressive governments all over the world are terrified of the free flow of information.

A recent six-month investigation into whether 40 countries use censorship shows the practice is spreading, with new countries learning from experienced practitioners such as China and benefiting from technological improvements.

OpenNet Initiative, a project by Harvard Law School and the universities of Toronto, Cambridge and Oxford, repeatedly tried to call up specific websites from 1,000 international news and other sites in the countries concerned, and a selection of local-language sites.

The research found a trend towards censorship or, as John Palfrey, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said, “a big trend in the reverse direction”, with many countries recently starting to adopt forms of online censorship.

Censorship is terrible, no doubt about it. But as good as governments are at repressing information on the internet, people are better at figuring ways around the restrictions. Some of the ways I have found out about are absolutely amazing, even if I am not going to reveal details on a public web site.

And once people have wrested the information out from the control of government, they won't trust government to keep it safe.

Long term, this will spark freedom.

Posted Thu - March 15, 2007 at 04:38 PM  

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Tue - March 13, 2007

Latest efforts of a desperate government

Some will tell you that this article is bad news.

I don't agree.

What this tells me is despite ever increasing efforts to control the internet in China, it is slipping from government control and into the hands of individuals.

And the government is afraid. Very afraid.

Every time I look at articles about the internet and world wide web in China, I am amazed. It's self-organizing, capable of withstanding terrible tyranny, and incredibly adaptive.

The Chinese government can't put the genie back in the bottle.

Fun to watch them try though.

From shore to shore, let freedom ring.

Posted Tue - March 13, 2007 at 01:42 PM  

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Sat - February 10, 2007

Underground computer gaming and freedom

I've said before that the internet is the last, best hope for freedom. Yes, I caged the line from Babylon 5. That doesn't stop it from being true though. So with this entry, I am introducing a new category. "Can't stop the signal" will cover examples of the internet spreading liberty even as government agencies desperately try to control it. And yes, "can't stop the signal" is from Serenity, otherwise known as the Firefly Movie.

What better way to start out the new category than to point to this story about underground internet cafes in China?

Zhang's ban, which was reported by several Chinese newspapers, was regarded as extreme even by the censorship authorities in Beijing. But it was emblematic of the Communist Party's determination to retain control of what this country's 1.3 billion people see, hear and read despite the vast changes in other realms brought on by economic reform over the last two decades.

Ever since Mao Zedong brought the party to power in 1949, information, art and entertainment have been regarded here as government property, distributed to the public -- or not -- according to what party officials think best. But in recent years, as the number of online Chinese climbed to 137 million by the end of 2006, the Internet has challenged this power in many ways. Zhang's experience in Gedong dramatized how robust the challenge has become.

Eager to speed modernization, China's leaders have professed a desire to see people use the Web widely to seek knowledge and economic advantage. But they also have expressed determination to keep it under party control. The goal, they have said, is to keep Chinese away from sites deemed unfit because of pornographic or politically sensitive content -- or, in the case of Fangshan County, because they waste teenagers' time with frivolous games.

"Whether we can cope with the Internet is a matter that affects the development of socialist culture, the security of information and the stability of the state," President Hu Jintao said at a Politburo study session last month, according to the state-controlled press. Hu, who also heads the party, said the solution is not to deter development of the Web but to "nurture a healthy online culture."

Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based media watchdog group, said Hu's government has deployed "armies of informants and cyber-police" and sophisticated computer programs to prevent Chinese Internet users from connecting with sites the party disapproves of or reading postings that stray from political orthodoxy. Sifting the acceptable from the unacceptable costs China "an enormous amount," the group said, without providing a specific number.

The kids are finding a way. It's games today, but tomorrow it will be political.

And if the kids are finding a way and there are enough of them to get attention, there are plenty of adults who you haven't heard about who are networking and doing their best to undermine all the restrictions.

Let freedom ring.

Posted Sat - February 10, 2007 at 03:35 PM  

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Pagan Vigil "Because LIBERTY demands more than just black or white"
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