Tue - November 17, 2009


I've been thinking.

I know, I know, it's a dangerous pastime that brings nothing but trouble.

Still, I've been thinking.

If the freedom and tyranny are really juxtaposing as fast as I believe, what's the next step?

There are dedicated, sincere people who will tell you that protest is the answer. Supposedly the politicos and technocrats fear mass action.

But I think that is tyranny too, the tyranny of the crowd.

And I admit, the tradeoffs worry me.

"If we back down on universal health care this year, then it's only fair that you don't oppose the carbon cap and trade. And of course, you won't object to Senator Bigwind's plan to bring light rail to his capital city."

If we pursue that, how long till we have nothing left to trade? How long until we have compromised away all the freedom?

I posted this on one of my liberty lists. And since it's me saying this, I get the Technopagan Green.

So isn't this the question of the times?

If the politicos have fenced off the planet and there's no place left to go where you can be left mostly alone, what is your choice?

I mean, I know that this crowd isn't about to join the tea party movement and many of us have our own reasons for avoiding organized political parties no matter what they call themselves, but what happens when "those in charge" don't recognize our choice as valid? Protest just isn't going to cut it.

I for one don't want to submit, but armed resistance strikes me as an amazingly fast way to die if just a few do it. And there aren't too many places left to run.

What do you with a drunken government determined to do things to you "for you own good?"

I wrote this on another liberty list.

I don't have a "do nothing" attitude, I have a "let's drop what hasn't worked" attitude.

The protesters, yes, even the Tea Party crowd are waiting on a Hero™ on a White Horse® to rescue them from the Mean, Ferocious Government Monster.  They know that if they just get enough of the right people elected, why, government can be cleaned up.  In our lifetimes.  And without anyone having to take responsibility.

Me, I have a simpler notion.

Government is not your friend.

I have an even simpler solution.


When you have a significant number of people who aren't marching on the White House and the various seats of government, but who are willing to take a stand where they live and say "No more," then we have something to work with.

Until then, it's so much noise.  

I'm looking for the next step.

If the Free Market Rebellion is really happening now, then it has to be about people making their own choices. Not a top down solution that is imposed on everyone. Not a protest against government policy, although I do think that is a good start. It's got to be people picking what they want for themselves.

So without that Hero on White Horse, and without us shooting in the streets and hanging judges from the lamp posts, what's next?

Maybe all the pieces aren't in play yet.

Gods, it's so tempting to throw myself in and use what I know to manipulate people, to try to twist events to my own ends. But that won't work either.

Freedom has to be chosen. Liberty can't be defended without choice.

Posted Tue - November 17, 2009 at 01:33 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Wed - April 15, 2009

Socially reclusive

I have another piece I'm working on, but I am having a hard time working up a good head of steam. So I thought I would post on something else for a while.

I dipped my toe into social networking, I opened a Facebook account a few days ago. I used one of my "quiet" identities. Hmmm, let me back up a bit.

I've made no secret that I am paranoid. Some days more than others. The name or title I use here, NeoWayland, is probably my main online identity these days, but it's not my only one.

You'll find it easy to search for NeoWayland, he leaves digital footprints all over. However, it's difficult to link that name with my legal name. I've tried very hard to keep my legal name offline.

At the same time, I do watch things on the web. Some of the identities I use to do that are obvious fakes (how many newspapers really have 99 year-old readers who get their news on the web through proxy servers?), some are "dead ends," and some are just "private." I do this because not everyone is willing to talk straight to a libertarian Pagan with his own blog. The "dead ends" and the "privates" (my terms for them) have no links back to me, although the "dead ends" are even harder to track back to me.

"Quiets" do have links to one of my other online identities. They don't actually proclaim "this is who I am," but there are enough threads that a little digging will show it.

Anyway, back to the subject.

On the Facebook site, I was amazed at all the information that the site wanted. Granted, most of it wasn't "mandatory," but even so. It's a social engineering paradise. Fortunately you choose what information to share, and even what information to enter.

The terms of service are a little disturbing too, but these days that's almost to be expected. Still, I won't be adding any personal pictures there.

See, I don't trust the security of most computers.

I can understand the service that Facebook is trying to provide, and I'll even admit that it could be valuable. At least the look up and locate thing, I am not sure about the "wall."

I just question if the tradeoff is worth it. It means exposing your data to some unscrupulous people.

And for the life of me, I don't understand the appeal of constantly monitoring someone's activities.

But then, what do I know? I don't even like cellphones.

I have one, I just don't like them.

Posted Wed - April 15, 2009 at 05:13 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Tue - April 14, 2009

Guest Article #4 - The Tax Revolt Returns

Don provided this a couple of days ago, I'm just backlogged.


The Tax Revolt Returns

By Donald Meinshausen

Tax revolts have been with us for thousands of years. According to David Burg’s encyclopedic work there have been hundreds of tax revolts in our history. These have happened on every continent, among every people as a national, provincial or local affair. Sometimes they have been labeled as being peasant, anti-war or anti-imperialist revolts. But all of them had the main issue of anger against burdensome and unfair taxation. Let me put it this way: What labor organizing is to the left taxpayer organizing is to us. It is organizing on the basis of a palpable, onerous oppression.

In all my years of libertarian political activism I have never seen such a potentially revolutionary groundswell as what is going to happen this April. As a result of the insane socialist stimulus package there is now a Tea Bag Tax Day Protest Rally to be held in over 170-1000 cities in America. You can look it up at WorldNetDaily, which reports on all of them. The rally in Chicago got over 30,000 people. The greatest victory that the modern day libertarian movement has ever won was the passage of Prop13, an anti tax initiative in California. This is bigger, because the stakes are higher.

The war that ended up with British getting the Magna Carta started as a tax revolt. So did the American Revolution, which was caused by a tax on tea. Research has shown that every revolt was caused by taxes, slavery or war (basically they are all the same). One lesson learned is that any new tax must be immediately challenged or people will grudgingly accept it as normal. One sign held up at a demonstration says it all: “Big government is the last stage a nation goes through before it dies.”

Yes, many of these events are being funded and run by GOPers and conservative talk show hosts. Even the America Family Association is getting involved. So what? The LP and other fine libertarian organizations have tabled at CPAC for years and now we get libertarians on the podium. I’m glad that the GOP and the radio stations are doing the hard work and taking the responsibility of organizing this event. This will be a tremendous opportunity to show our fellow outraged citizens of how the GOP organized the first bailout, supported socialist lending policies, earmarks, pork barrel spending just a few months ago. Anti-war and anti-drug war activists can use this opportunity to expose the wastefulness and horror of these depredations of our liberty. What a tremendous opportunity to recruit and inform concerned people of what we are all about. OPH tables are a must here.

Now is the time for ALL libertarians to reach out to this movement and offer support to this worthy struggle to push back statism. That means all think tanks, media and activist groups in and out of the party. We'll remember your participation here when you ask us for support. Contact your conservative friends as well.

Watch the videos, especially the one by Paul Williams called "We the People” on the site. You gotta love this guy. He shows Ron Paul and all these wonderful signs being held at previous rallies. Signs that read:  “Ayn Rand was right”, “Free Markets Not Free Loaders”, “Nationalization is Theft”; “Keep your socialism we want Capitalism”. All this with John Lennon's "Power to the People" playing! And he ends it all with a phrase from John Galt's speech! These are our people coming there. To see it watch http://tinyurl/.cmcehsya and link to it.

This article is Copyright © by Donald Meinshausen.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this in any form without written permission from the author.

Disclaimer - The views expressed in the article are the author's own, I am not responsible for them. I do believe that the article is worth careful thought, and I'd like to thank Donald for agreeing to let my Pagan•Vigil website host the article.

Editor's note - To correct for the broken link, here's a YouTube embed of the video Don was talking about.

Posted Tue - April 14, 2009 at 01:14 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Sat - April 11, 2009

Signs of the times

Sorry, I got busy yesterday and I am not in a politics frame of mind today, but I wanted to point out these great signs before the tea parties got rolling. These and several others are provided by the I am Simon Jester site. Click on the graphics to go to see the rest and get the nice big high resolution PDFs.

These are two of my favorites.

We all need a little more Simon Jester.

Incidentally, the Simon Jester Project also provides some great (if a tad dated) materials, but they don't tie into the tea parties.

Posted Sat - April 11, 2009 at 01:05 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Wed - March 11, 2009

Sometimes you have to make your own justice

Oh my, oh my. How sweet it is. When the politicos screw you, screw right back.

Pun intended.

To many in Old Town Alexandria, the sex shop that opened recently on King Street is nothing short of scandalous, a historical desecration just blocks from the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee.

But to Michael Zarlenga, it's justice.

Zarlenga spent $350,000 on plans to expand his hunting and fishing store, the Trophy Room. He worked with city officials for almost two years and thought he had their support -- until the architectural review board told him he couldn't alter the historic property.

Furious and out of money, Zarlenga rented the space to its newest occupant, Le Tache.

"I can't say I didn't know it would ruffle feathers," said Zarlenga, 41. "Actually, I was hoping for a fast-food chain because I thought that would be more annoying to the city."

King Street's upscale restaurants and shops are the quintessence of commercial Old Town, near Gadsby's Tavern, where George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams overnighted. A short stroll away is the boyhood home of Lee, the Confederate general.

I wish I could have seen the look on the citygovs faces when they realized what happened.

My hat is off to Mr. Zarlenga.

Posted Wed - March 11, 2009 at 04:46 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - February 12, 2009

A tax revolt would be highly illegal

Understand, I can't recommend this. It could have serious legal consequences. Emphasis in original.

I'll tell you what would be change.  Since it appears that a huge percentage of the current and former Congressional delegation has cheated on its taxes - after all, what are the odds you only picked the tax cheats, if you want me to believe in your idea of CHANGE you will immediately order all member of Congress in both Houses to undergo full IRS audits all the way back to the Statute of Limitations (three years), along with all of their staff.

You and I know know it won't happen, but I'll tell you what - I keep hearing people say they're going to file absolute crap this year.  Utter garbage.  "The Dog ate my Schedule C."

If The American People do this, Mr. President, government funding will collapse.  The IRS can't possibly audit everyone and we all know it.

Your administration is dangerously close to creating a full-on tax revolt among Americans.  You would not believe how often I have heard this among people both online and off in the last couple of weeks.  The anger, especially when the people who are cheating are folks like Daschle and Geithner, is VISCERAL - these are the people who both wrote the tax code and were involved in the bailouts and handouts which you expect we the people - ordinary Americans - to pay for.

Yep, a tax revolt would be highly illegal. It could have serious consequences, including imprisonment. It could lead to the collapse of the American Government.

I could not possibly suggest you think about it. Not at all.

Hat tip Sunni and the Conspirators.

Posted Thu - February 12, 2009 at 02:50 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Mon - February 2, 2009

Charter 08 in China

China is always worth watching. There is an epic struggle for freedom going on there, and it's anyone's guess who is going to win.

Hers is the 3,943rd signature on the list that has swelled to more than 8,100 from across China. Although their numbers are still small, those signing the document, and the broad spectrum from which they come, have made the human rights manifesto, known as Charter 08, a significant marker in the demands for democracy in China, one of the few sustained campaigns since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Those who sign the charter risk arrest and punishment.

When the document first appeared online in mid-December, its impact was limited. Many of the original signers were lawyers, writers and other intellectuals who had long been known for their pro-democracy stance. The Chinese government moved quickly to censor the charter -- putting those suspected of having written it under surveillance, interrogating those who had signed, and deleting any mention of it from the Internet behind its great firewall.

My bet is on individuals.

Can't stop the signal.

Posted Mon - February 2, 2009 at 01:20 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Mon - December 15, 2008

Working around government censorship

Determined people always find freedom, no matter what a government demands.

The government wants to force all local ISPs to censor what Australians can see online, putting the country on par with the likes of China and North Korea. The joke is that school kids are already using free and simple tools to bypass such restrictions.

According to the government's own research, the filtering will degrade network performance by between 20 and 75 per cent - which makes a joke of plans for a faster national network. Civil libertarians also argue that censorship is a slippery slope, a concern heightened by the fact that those supporting the filtering are already talking about expanding it to include other stuff they don't like, such as online gambling and "illegal" sites.

The proposed filtering with give a handful of right wing nutjobs the power to control what we can see online. The fact the government wants to keep the list of banned sites a secret, and has tried to censor people speaking out against the filtering plans, should be ringing alarm bells.

Any school kid will tell you that bypassing internet filtering is ridiculously easy. One simple trick is to use a free web proxy, which acts as a middle man between you and the site you want to see. You'll find a long list of free web proxies and other such sites at FreeProxy.ru.

Every time I post about people finding ways to work around government online repression, I smile. Sometimes I laugh.

The internet is humanity's last, best hope for freedom. Folk's won't give it up without a fight.

Can't stop the signal.

Posted Mon - December 15, 2008 at 01:10 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Wed - November 5, 2008

Do you know what one of the best things about today is?

The election is over, and that means no more of those thrice-damned automated calling machines telling me who to vote for.

There were seven on my answering machine yesterday alone.

Posted Wed - November 5, 2008 at 08:46 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Tue - October 28, 2008

How do you reclaim the word "rights?"

I originally posted this at Mountain West Freedom Network.

There are all sorts of ways.

Such as twisting the argument so that they are undone by their own efforts.

But of course, we shouldn't do anything like that, should we? And we should never, ever give demonstrations where it might do some good...

Or at least get people to think about the words they say and the ideas they believe.

After all, when you come down to it, rights and freedom and liberty are just words that could never, EVER possibly rip tyranny out by the roots.

Even it is just a small tyranny, like deciding which ideas are "allowed."

Words are just words.

But sometimes, just sometimes, words have power.

Sometimes words are more. MUCH more.

Sometimes the right word in the right place at the right time can change minds.

Sometimes the right word can sleep in a mind for months, years, decades. Until it explodes with a transformation so great that nothing stays the same and the robot awakens.

What do I know? Just because I want to find the synthesis between mankind and ideas, between faith and technology, between what was and what will be doesn't mean that I actually have a chance of doing it. Just because my tools could be words carried by electrons that link you, me, and countless others in a living web of information and ideas unrivaled in human history doesn't mean I could possibly do anything worthwhile.

It's just words.

Just because I might be doing it now. As you read. As you think.

One step at a time.

One touch at a time.

One voice at a time.

What do I know sometimes?




Posted Tue - October 28, 2008 at 12:32 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Sun - October 19, 2008

Innoculating yourself against the state

Something interesting came up on one of my liberty lists. Someone wanted to know how he could get immunity for himself and his family regardless of who had apparent political power and who had true political power.

There's no simple answer for this question, although I did run across a quote that fits.

"I have always said that totalitarians should be put on an exclusive diet of red herring, wild goose and raspberries."
— The Landed Underclass, Government Spies Are Everywhere

I do think that America is in a struggle for freedom as the centralized state collapses, things are going to get worse and messier before they get better. Many in the freedom movement have already withdrawn because they saw the signs. But there are still resources out there if you look.

Claire Wolfe is no longer an active writer, but some of her practical stuff is still online. Claire Wolfe's old website is archived here. Although some may be a little dated, go hunt down her books. They are a great introduction.

One of my favorite sites Sunni and the Conspirators works very well to turn your thinking in the right direction.

Chances are if you do get into a confrontation with the FedGovs or StateGovs or LocalGovs, it's going to go badly. You may be able to trust individuals that you know, but you can't trust institutions or agencies. Your best bet at first is to be nice. Be really kind and really cooperative, ask their permission for every single thing you do. If you need to shift your weight, ask. If you need to scratch your nose, ask. If you need to sneeze, ask. The idea is to kill them with kindness.

It's almost too late to do anything if you wait until they move first. Do a little homework. Decide for yourself if you are going to keep a low profile or a high one. Your best bet is to minimize visibility.

If it does get nasty, you're probably going to lose property. Computers, paper, books, anything that can be used against you will be. Your bank assets might be seized. You could lose your car. Recognize that and plan for it.

Windows computers have so many security holes it is not even funny. Don't use them to keep secrets. Go to a Linux build or a Macintosh. Strong passwords and obscured security questions are a must no matter what your system.

Don't confront them where they are strongest. Find ways to make their weakness work against them. For example, unless you are REALLY high profile and high risk, you won't be facing computer experts and something like PGP can go a long way.

If "they" want to come after you, they will and there is nothing you can do to stop them. But with a little thought and preparation, you can make sure they get nothing that will hurt you.

And maybe have a few giggles along the way.

It's that or screaming.

One more thing. Remember

Government authority tends to be used against those least likely to resist.

Posted Sun - October 19, 2008 at 03:21 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Mon - November 5, 2007

Jim jam

My oh my, these could be very useful on occasion.

Now I have to tell you that cell phone jammers are illegal in the United States.

And I couldn't possibly advise you to look into it.

Nope, not at all.

Posted Mon - November 5, 2007 at 06:13 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Wed - September 26, 2007

Is warp drive next?

Not sure how true this one is, but it could be absolutely amazing.

The aerospace industry has taken notice of a California researcher who, using off-the-shelf components, built and successfully demonstrated the world's first successful amplified photon thruster. Dr. Young Bae of the Bae Institute first demonstrated his Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) with an amplification factor of 3,000 in December, 2006.

Major aerospace agencies and primary contractors have since invited Bae to present his work, including NASA JPL, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory). Senior Aerospace Engineer at AFRL, Dr. Franklin Mead, "Dr. Bae's PLT demonstration and measurement of photon thrust (is) pretty incredible. I don't think anyone has done this before. It has generated a lot of interest."

Recently, the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, a peer-reviewed AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) (http://www.aiaa.org) Journal, accepted Dr. Bae's PLT demonstration paper, "Photonic Laser Propulsion: Proof-of-Concept Demonstration" for publication this year. In his paper Bae documents in explicit detail how he overcame the inherent inefficiencies of traditional photon thrusters in generating thrust by amplification with the use of an innovative optical cavity concept. For decades rocket scientists have tried to overcome the inefficiency of photon thrusters by amplification based on optical cavities separated from laser sources, but failed. In contrast, Bae's patent-pending PLT breakthrough places the laser medium within a resonant optical cavity between two platforms to produce a very stable and reliable thrust that is unaffected by mirror movement and vibration -- ideal for spacecraft control or propulsion.

A practical and reliable photon drive could be a major shot in the arm for liberty. It would make cheap intrasteller (within the solar system) travel possible. Theoretically, outside of a gravity well, a photon drive is more efficient and less mass-intensive than chemical rockets.

Which means that once you are in Earth orbit, most of your mass isn't fuel that you have to burn up and throw away.

I've long considered a practical (read cheap and reliable) space drive to be part of the technology troika that could well and truly make us Homo astra, a species of star travelers.

If you are curious, the other two parts are distributed computer networks and nanotechnology. When it is no longer possible for a government or corporate entity to control information flow, that is when we will know that distributed computer networks are a mature technology. We're well on our way to that goal.

And nanotechnology, well, when that hits, it will be faster than even the information revolution has been.

But getting back the photon drive, I think I will say what every engineer, every science fiction fan, and every forward looking capitalist will say.

"I want one!"

Posted Wed - September 26, 2007 at 03:13 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - May 24, 2007

China won't require blogger registration

Here's one I am happy to pass on.

A surprising turn of events could mean the Chinese government will not require bloggers to provide their real names to a central registry.

The potential for damaging the rapidly growing Internet industry may have influenced Beijing into backing off a long-desired plan to match bloggers' online identities with the real people behind them.

People's Daily Online said prominent Internet companies complained about the registration requirement, one that the central government has long coveted. Instead of a compulsory registration, bloggers will be encouraged to place their names on that list.

Maybe not a full win, but it goes in the plus column.

Posted Thu - May 24, 2007 at 01:29 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Fri - April 13, 2007

Ancient data banks toil away the years

The IRS computers are old. Really old.

The Internal Revenue Service has been trying for years to upgrade its antiquated mainframe computers, which process Americans' tax returns by churning through millions of lines of assembly code written by hand in the early 1960s.

But after more than 20 years and over $5 billion, there's still no end in sight. Not all computer systems can talk to each other, information isn't available in real time, and tax returns filed on paper are often manually entered by typists.

An internal strategy document written seven years ago likened the upgrade task to redesigning and rebuilding a densely populated city like New York, without evacuating it first or disrupting the "daily pattern" of the residents' lives.

Putting aside the debate over if we actually need the IRS, let's look at what is happening in terms of Modern Management Techniques™.

What the article is describing is a hierarchal structure similar to almost every major corporation up through the first half of the 20th Century. Highly organized, all flowing towards a central trunk, and depending on the trunk to deliver information to all the nodes with control and feedback focused at one place on the trunk.

But since the late 1970s, the name of the game has been decentralization and distributed networks. Everything from telecommuting to JIT supply chains to real time finances depend on those assumptions.

One big advantage of DDN is that you can upgrade the nodes as needed without having to take the entire network down to replace the trunk.

Even if it is computers we're talking about, the IRS hasn't found their digital reality yet. I am not sure they can with the approach that they are taking.

On the other hand, it should prove that the income tax is oppressive. The only way for a centralized system to monitor income is for every single financial transaction to go through that central trunk.

Think about the implications for just a bit.

A central trunk, with decades old computer security.

A central system that is prone to error.

A system where the nodes can't even talk to each other.

All governed by a set of regulations so complicated that no one understands it.

Tailor made for chaos, wouldn't you say?

Posted Fri - April 13, 2007 at 05:50 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - March 22, 2007

Today's Hot Link

Carla Howell has a fantastic song here.

Download it.

Share it.

Pass the link along to anyone you can think of.

Hat tip Liberator Online.

Posted Thu - March 22, 2007 at 01:36 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - March 1, 2007


This company makes furniture with concealed compartments. The intent is to keep guns out of direct view.

Of course, I would never advocate hiding your weapons from the law, even though these items could do that very well.

If you are good at woodworking, building your own could be a challenging project.

Nice furniture though, and the craftsmanship looks top notch.

Posted Thu - March 1, 2007 at 02:35 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Tue - January 9, 2007

Shielding your RFID cards

This isn't the first RFID blocking wallet I have seen.

I am not sure if they actually work.

But I am encouraged that someone thinks there is a market for them.

Posted Tue - January 9, 2007 at 02:04 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Sun - January 7, 2007

The Hunger of the State

One of the threats to freedom this last week was that President Bush claimed power to open mail without a warrant.

Absolutely deplorable. A sure sign of tyranny. Our privacy is threatened.

And the one new thing is that Bush has admitted it.

Emergency powers are nothing new. This excellent piece by Jim Bovard shows that while President Bush expanded the power of the FedGovs to track your banking, the roots of the problem go back decades. Who remembers the political operatives who had access to FBI and IRS files during the Clinton Administration? Or even Nixon's "enemies list?"

It doesn't stop with the presidency. Part of the debate in the waning days of the last Congress was over non-profit campaign contributions. Never mind that the very idea clearly attacks free speech and a free press, the non-profits had to be properly registered and controlled. Or in the first days of the new Congress, when "ethics reform" was clearly aimed at lobbyists and not Congressmen.

This is the power of the State, hungering for more and more control.

Why does the Federal Government need to look at your mail? To protect the homeland.

Why does the Federal Government need to know your bank transactions? To keep you paying taxes.

Why does the Federal Government need to track political contributions and speech? To monitor dissidents and suppress dissent.

Here's one for you. With the two hundred plus years of law and thousands of pages in the Federal Register, why does Congress need to meet more than ninety days a year? To control you.

We don't need new laws, especially when Congress can't be bothered to read them before voting on them. But it sure gives them power. The government assumes you are guilty. All these laws are predicated on your guilt, if only the State can find out.

That is what it comes down to, ladies and gentlemen. We've raised a ravening monster hungry for freedom and our property. It's spawn have infested our lives from cradle to grave. There is no hero we can call. No exterminator can handle the job. It's just us and our neighbors.

Attacks on privacy are a symptom, not the problem. It goes beyond the Post Office, beyond the Presidency, beyond Congress, and to the very concept of a powerful, centralized government unchecked by the citizens. It didn't happen over night, or even over a decade. No one human is responsible.

The only ones who can destroy it utterly are the American people. And then only over the objections of the "leadership."

So what can we do to stop it?

Just remember that the system depends on you to do what you are told and ONLY what you are told. Americans have been tying authority figures in knots since before the Mayflower.

By the way, I am not an authority figure and I have no desire to be one. But I have one response to an ever intrusive government.


It is the only thing that can stop an ever growing government in it's tracks. It's the only thing that can reclaim stolen freedom.

It may be the only thing besides me and mine that I am willing to fight for.

Posted Sun - January 7, 2007 at 05:51 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Mon - January 1, 2007

Messing with photo radar

I won't spoil the surprise solution here, but I do agree with his feelings.

I hate photo radar. Hate it. And it’s not because occasionally I drive too fast and get a ticket. It’s because the city prostelitizes it as being a safety measure when in truth they’re using it purely as a revenue-generating tool. Last year in Scottsdale after only six months of installing speed cameras on the 101 highway, the city issued nearly $3MM in tickets… that’s just absurd. It didn’t make anyone drive slower. What it did was cause car accidents because inevitably some of the cars in traffic would hit the breaks as they approached the zones where they knew the cameras were. With a random fraction of the cars sporadically slamming on the breaks without warning, it’s no wonder that stretch of highway became one of the most dangerous in Arizona. Ultimately the City put an end to the experiment and pulled the cameras off the 101. Intersections throughout the Scottsdale still have red light cameras though, and the same problem exists- motorists become more concerned about avoiding a photo radar ticket rather than driving safely.

Perfect illustration of the unintended consequences of the law.

Oh, and his solution is brilliant.

Posted Mon - January 1, 2007 at 05:43 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Fri - December 15, 2006

Somebody's watching you (through your cell phone)

I have to admit, I love gadgets.

A few months back I was looking for a replacement for my trusty Palm m515. I almost went with a Palm Treo 700p. I loved the idea of having voice memos, a PDA, a camera, and a phone all in one handheld gizmo.

No offense, but I wouldn't connect a WinCE device to my toaster, much less my computer. I know people who are very happy with it, but I have yet to be satisfied with any Micro$oft product. So Palm and Blackberry were really the only two options I considered.

But there were two things that kept me from doing it. One was the ever changing price on Verizon Mobile's website for a voice and data plan.

The other was my paranoia. I just didn't like the idea of a cell phone carrier able to access my address book and calendar.

Looks like the situation was worse than I thought.

We review the results of the expedition in a nearby pub. In the 17 minutes we wandered around, Laurie's computer picked up signals from 39 phones. He peers at his monitor for a while. "It takes only 15 seconds to suck down somebody's address book, so we could have had a lot of those," he says at last. "And at least five of these phones were vulnerable to an attack."

The "attack" Laurie mentions so casually could mean almost anything - a person using another person's cell to make long distance calls or changing every phone number in his address book or even bugging his conversations. There are, he says, "a whole range of new powers" available to the intrepid phone marauder, including nasty viral attacks. A benign Bluetooth worm has already been discovered circulating in Singapore, and Laurie thinks future variants could be something really scary. Especially vulnerable are Europeans who use their mobile phone to make micropayments - small purchases that show up as charges on cell phone bills. A malicious virus maker bent on a get-rich-quick scheme could take advantage of this feature by issuing "reverse SMS" orders.

Bluetooth security has become a pressing issue in Europe, where the technology is ubiquitous. The problem will migrate to American shores as the protocol catches on here, too. But in the long run, Bluetooth vulnerabilities are manageable: Handset manufacturers can rewrite faulty implementations, and cell phone users will learn to be more careful. A far bigger security nightmare for the US is Internet telephony, which is fast being adopted for large corporations and is available to consumers through many broadband providers. Voice over IP is, by design, hacker-friendly. No enterprising criminals have dreamed up a million-dollar scam exploiting VoIP technology yet. But when they do, it likely won't be something a simple patch can fix.

As long as the cell phone carriers insist on control of a cell phone's programing, there will be security holes to exploit. Since the carriers undersell all other competition to lock people into long term contracts, consumers actually have less choice. I don't expect the situation to last, but while it does, your cell phone is a bug. Especially the more complex ones.

This assumption that because a company sold you hardware they can control what you do with a device has got to go. And it will too, once customers have a choice.

Oh, my current cell phone? A Tracfone from Walmart. Whenever I don't need to be available to the office, it sits at home. Pay phones and calling cards work remarkably well and calm my paranoid feelings.

Posted Fri - December 15, 2006 at 04:07 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Mon - October 16, 2006

Change lanes and get away with speeding

I don't know what is better about this one.

On the one hand you have a massive government bureaucracy that installed an expensive traffic cam system that is incredibly flawed.

On the other hand, you have a bunch of average drivers who figured out how to fool the system without expensive add ons.

There is justice in the universe.

Posted Mon - October 16, 2006 at 07:51 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Tue - August 29, 2006

Empty your pockets

Julian Metcalf has a thought provoking entry on his blog. The whole idea of of his Travel Tinker Trouble Kit probably wouldn't raise too many eyebrows, except for the lock picks.

I have my own tool obsession, but this entry has been making the rounds in the libertarian blogosphere the last couple of days and it got me to thinking.

Most states restrict the ownership of lock picks. Why?

The use of lock picks, that I can understand. Steal something, and the owner is within his rights to shoot you on the spot.

But owning the tools?

I'm pretty sure that you own some gasoline. You have a major ingredient for a Malotov cocktail. Does that mean that gasoline should be banned?

The bombing in Oklahoma City showed that fertilizer can be explosive. Does that mean that it's ownership should be restricted?

Heck, a deck of playing cards and a PVC pipe can be pretty effective in the right hands.

And that brings us to the real question.

What about guns?

More accurately, who benefits from restricting gun ownership?

Understand, the people who are willing to abide by "gun control" laws ARE NOT the ones that everyone worries about. Even most of the people who own guns despite the law aren't the ones we should be worried about.

The only two groups of people who benefit from VICTIM DISARMAMENT laws are the criminals who prey on the weak and the agents of the state who don't want to face armed opposition.

Oddly enough, those are some of the same people who benefit from restricting the ownership of lock picks.

Mr. Metcalf's kit would get confiscated in most airports. In many cities, it would be used as evidence that he is a suspicious person. Yet what in the kit is actually wrong? Even the lock picks are fairly limited, there are locks on the market that this kit could never pick. It is the difference from prosecuting someone based on what they could do instead of something that they have done.

Seems to me we are skating close to "thought crime."

Additional Technorati Tags

Posted Tue - August 29, 2006 at 07:10 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Fri - August 4, 2006

Encrypted blog entries

Victor Cheung has a great idea. Okay, I have no idea what I would use this for yet. Maybe if I have to go into Stainless Steel Rat mode and become an underground freedom activist. But there is no denying both the geek factor and the potential.

I use my blog as literally an online journal to record my activities and thoughts so I can look back at them later. Writing things down can also be therapeutic. As a side benefit, it serves as a form of communication with my friends and randoms (it helped me get my apartment).

The problem is that I have to constantly censor myself as I do not want other people reading some of my more personal thoughts, especially ones about people that read my blog. I want my blog to be public, but I want to also add some private text.

My solution is to use cryptography. I will encrypt text I don't want people to read, this way the text is not available anywhere (not even on the server). The difficulty is in making it easy to do both encryption and decryption and doing so in a secure manner, i.e. do everything locally.

Of course you shouldn't use this for anything illegal. As I said, at the moment I have no practical use, although I have a notion or two I am going to think about.

Hat tip Strike the Root.

Posted Fri - August 4, 2006 at 03:28 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Mon - July 10, 2006

Go see a boycotted movie

Chas. Clifton describes going to see The DaVinci Code as an act of resistance.

It is rated PG, which could just as well stand for "Partially or Predominately or Pretty Gnostic." Given that two newer films, The Devil Wears Prada and A Prairie Home Companion had opened in Colorado Springs, site of our delayed anniversary Day in the City, I was surprised that M. voted for Da Vinci. But she argued that it would be the best to see on the big screen (the "Euro porn" factor—old buildings, cityscapes, conspiracies) and, of course, we would be voting with our ticket dollars against those who called for a boycott.

Afterwards, eating at Shuga's on South Cascade Avenue, we decided that this was one case where the movie was better than the book. For me, the book just went “in one eye and out the other.” Having read Holy Blood, Holy Grail back when it was published, I knew the whole Priory of Sion story, and not much about Dan Brown’s novel, other than perhaps the initial murder of the curator in the Louvre, stayed with me.

I hadn't really thought about seeing a movie as defending free speech, at least not in this context. It makes sense though, especially in this day when Congress just increased the penalty for on-air "obscenity" ten-fold.

I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail a few years back too. I even used it a few times in my "discussions" with certain fundy types who were convinced that the world and all it's people had to follow the dictates of their belief. I don't really care what people believe until they start interfering with the beliefs or actions of other people. Then they are fair game and all bets are off.
(insert maniacal laugh here)

Something like the old "read a banned book" campaign maybe. Go see a boycotted movie. Who knows, you may learn something.

And before someone tries to use this as a justification to go after "those EEEEEEVVVVIIIILLL conservatives," I'd remind you that modern liberals and progressives have their own speech codes. In fact, the entire concept of "politically correct" was invented by progressives.

Posted Mon - July 10, 2006 at 04:26 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - July 6, 2006

FBI hacked

The good thing is that this didn't include personal information. Unless you were in the witness protection program.

A government consultant, using computer programs easily found on the Internet, managed to crack the FBI's classified computer system and gain the passwords of 38,000 employees, including that of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

The break-ins, which occurred four times in 2004, gave the consultant access to records in the Witness Protection Program and details on counterespionage activity, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. As a direct result, the bureau said it was forced to temporarily shut down its network and commit thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars to ensure no sensitive information was lost or misused.

The government does not allege that the consultant, Joseph Thomas Colon, intended to harm national security. But prosecutors said Colon's "curiosity hacks" nonetheless exposed sensitive information.

Are you noticing a pattern here? Government agencies aren't all that good at keeping data secure, even assuming that you willingly gave it to them. Which, chances are, you did not.

Gee, if someone had only thought about what keeping data in central computers might mean to the average person. Oh wait, someone did. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar.

My second concern is system security. Let's face it, these central databases are not known for being secure. Even if one part of the system is secure, it only takes one hole to reveal all the details of your life. Or to put it another way, even if your credit card information was totally secure, once everything is connected, there is nothing that can stop your credit card number and personal info from being sold by anyone plugged into the system.

My third concern is that it removes your choice to limit who has access to your information. Up until there is a crime or the investigation of a crime, there is absolutely no need for anyone to have access to your information. And yes, I am familiar with the current banking laws and how much information is already reported to the government without your consent.

The only people who benefit from having massive central databases are the government and data criminals.

Neither has your best interests at heart.

Posted Thu - July 6, 2006 at 04:57 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Wed - June 14, 2006

Peter McWilliams

Rogier van Bakel at Nobody's Business has reprinted an editorial he wrote about Peter McWilliams on the anniversary of Mr. McWilliams death. Mr. McWilliams was a drug war martyr, he was an AIDS and cancer patient denied medical marijuana by the Federal government, even though it was legal under California law. It was not a pretty death, he died vomiting in the shower.

Here is an exerpt of the Overview from Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, the Peter McWilliams classic on libertarian thought and individual responsibility.

THIS BOOK IS BASED on a single idea: You should be allowed to do whatever you want with your own person and property, as long as you don't physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other.

Simple. Seemingly guaranteed to us by that remarkable document known as United States Constitution and its even more remarkable Bill of Rights. And yet, it's not the way things are.

Roughly half of the arrests and court cases in the United States each year involve consensual crimes—actions that are against the law, but directly harm no one's person or property except, possibly, the "criminal's."

More than 750,000 people are in jail right now because of something they did, something that did not physically harm the person or property of another. In addition, more than 3,000,000 people are on parole or probation for consensual crimes. Further, more than 4,000,000 people are arrested each year for doing something that hurts no one but, potentially, themselves.

The injustice doesn't end there, of course. Throwing people in jail is the extreme. If you can throw people in jail for something, you can fire them for the same reason. You can evict them from their apartments. You can deny them credit. You can expel them from schools. You can strip away their civil rights, confiscate their property, and destroy their lives—just because they're different.

At what point does behavior become so unacceptable that we should tell our government to lock people up? The answer, as explored in this book: We lock people up only when they physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other.

Contained in this answer is an important assumption: after a certain age, our persons and property belong to us.

There is not much else I can add. Mr. McWilliams is one of my inspirations. The Federal government was directly responsible for his death, even if they didn't shoot him.

Posted Wed - June 14, 2006 at 04:39 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Keeping data safe - updated

There's a great piece at the LNC website on data privacy.

“We’ve got a new breed of criminals out there now,” said Barry Hess, Arizona’s Libertarian gubernatorial candidate. “Identity thieves are being supplied with the tools required for their crimes by the federal government.  Agencies like the Census Bureau and the IRS collect much more data than required to do their jobs. At some point, we’ve got to stand up and tell the government our private information is none of their business.”

By law, massive amounts of information about you are channeled into various government computers. As the article points out, most people focus on "improving" security of that data, and never question why the government needs to know.

For example, your bank is required to report all financial transactions above a certain amount. Last time I checked I believe it was anything more than a thousand dollars. Why does the government need to know that? The official justification is for income tax purposes, which is reason enough to abolish the income tax.

Your bank is also required to report "suspicious" activity. Depending on who is defining suspicious, that could mean anything from buying grow lights to not contributing to local political campaigns.

Don't count on a cash economy. Stock brokers, mutual funds, and precious metal dealers are also required to report on you.

If these people are unwilling to report on you, they face stiff criminal penalties.

For some unknown reason, your doctor is required to provide medical details on demand. And once again, they face prosecution and severe sentences if they don't.

Your children's teacher is required to report on your child's behavior and what that may mean about your homelife.

Notice that I haven't even talked about drug use or firearm regulation, those holy grails of the modern libertarian movement.

Focusing on the security of the data is the wrong approach. After all, if government didn't have the data, there wouldn't be any need for them to keep it safe.

As Real ID and affiliated programs roll out, expect identity theft to become one of the top five crimes nationally. And expect more and more to happen where the government eyes can't pry.

While I can't officially advise you, I can point out that the information might not be entirely correct. People have been known to "tweak" their data before it got put in the various databases.

Just count on anything that the government "knows" about you to be sold on the open market and you won't be far off.

UPDATE - This was from my May 30, 2005 examination of Real ID.

My second concern is system security. Let's face it, these central databases are not known for being secure. Even if one part of the system is secure, it only takes one hole to reveal all the details of your life. Or to put it another way, even if your credit card information was totally secure, once everything is connected, there is nothing that can stop your credit card number and personal info from being sold by anyone plugged into the system.

Posted at 04:33 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Fri - June 2, 2006

Consumer Product Safety Commission uses SWAT team

I'm thinking back.

Thomas Edison.

Henry Ford.

George Washington Carver.

Robert Goddard.

Not a single one of these men would have discovered anything if the Consumer Product Safety Commission had it's way.

The CPSC went after a backyard based scientific supply company.

With a SWAT team no less.

The company is called United Nuclear Scientific Supplies, and you can find their website here.

Their site looks good and their prices are reasonable.

Hat tip to Radley Balko.

Posted Fri - June 2, 2006 at 04:43 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Tue - May 23, 2006

Exhibitionists want privacy

This article doesn't quite reach the obvious conclusion, but it is something to think about.

Younger people aren't concerned with what they choose to put on the internet and make available, even if it is "private" information.

But they are very concerned about the things they didn't choose to share.

That is the "generation gap."

It's still about privacy

Posted Tue - May 23, 2006 at 09:16 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - May 4, 2006

Loyalty day

Any nation that needs to declare "Loyalty Day" has some serious problems.

Loyalty is not something that can be compelled, and in a nation founded on individual freedom, it's for damn sure that no free human can promise the loyalty of another.

KYFHO, Georgie boy, KYFHO.

I'll make my own promises, I'll keep my own honor.

You want my loyalty?


Posted Thu - May 4, 2006 at 05:03 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Thu - April 13, 2006

AT&T, Certified Government Snoop

Ryan Singel lays it out in Wired.

AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit that allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a massive internet wiretap operation in its San Francisco facilities.

In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn't be used as evidence in the case and should be returned.

The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers.

The EFF filed the class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California in January, seeking damages from AT&T on behalf of AT&T customers for alleged violation of state and federal laws.

Now do you supposed that AT&T was the only company to do this little stunt?

And of course, you are absolutely helpless if enough companies do this. Or are you?

Posted Thu - April 13, 2006 at 04:37 AM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Sat - January 28, 2006

Zapping RFID

It seems that someone has come up with a cheap homebrewed RFID zapper.

I point it out as a matter of public interest, and I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to actually build and use one. That could be illegal and have all sorts of bad consequences.

Hat tip to Gizmodo.

Posted Sat - January 28, 2006 at 03:50 PM  

Permalink  ◊   ◊   ◊ 

Pagan Vigil "Because LIBERTY demands more than just black or white"
© 2005 - 2009 All Rights Reserved