Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kicking the Backside of the State with an Invisible Foot

Mike Gibson at "Let a Thousand Nations Bloom" reintroduces the concept of "The Invisible Foot" and its application to government services.

Let’s Open a Wireless Window to Cuba

Lifting the embargo one text at a time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Schools of Internet Pessimism

Adam Thierer at The Technology Liberation Front posits two schools of doomsaying regarding Internet policy:

1. Net Skeptics, Pessimistic about the Internet Improving the Lot of Mankind


2. Net Lovers, Pessimistic about the Future of Openness

He discusses their elitism, their desire for intervention and counters them with evolution. Please read:

Amplify’d from techliberation.com

Despite their different concerns, two things unite these two schools of techno-pessimism.  First, there is an elitist air to their pronouncements; a veritable “the-rest-of-you-just-don’t-get-it” attitude pervades their work.  In the case of the Net Skeptics, it’s the supposed decline of culture, tradition, and economy that the rest of us are supposedly blind to, but which they see perfectly—and know how to rectify.  For the Net Loving Pessimists, by contrast, we see this attitude on display when they imply that a Digital Dark Age of Closed Systems is unfolding since nefarious schemers in high-tech corporate America are out to suffocate Internet innovation and digital freedom more generally.  The Net Loving Pessimists apparently see this plot unfolding, but paint the rest of us out to be robotic sheep being led to the cyber-slaughter since we are unwittingly using services (AOL in the old days; Facebook today) or devices (the iPhone and iPad) that play right into the hands of those corporate schemers who are out to erect high and tight walled gardens all around us.

Unsurprisingly, this elitist attitude leads to the second thing uniting these two variants of Net pessimism: An underlying belief that someone or something—most often, the State—must intervene to set us on a better course or protect those things that they regard as sacred.  They either fancy themselves as the philosopher kings who can set things back on a better course, or they imagine that such creatures exist in government today and can be tapped to save us from our impending digital doom—whatever it may be.

Read more at techliberation.com

Second Newspaper Chain Joins Copyright Trolling Operation

The copyright troll story continues.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Friends of the “Free Market” Are Its Worst Enemies

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

The people who talk most about “free enterprise” and “free markets” in American political discourse, far from actually favoring those things, have appropriated the label “free enterprise” for their system of corporate welfare, corporate protectionism, and crony capitalism.

Quite frankly, I’m thoroughly sick of seeing right-wing Republicans referred to as “free market fundamentalists” by people like Thomas Frank. I’m sick of seeing “free market” treated, on the Left, as synonymous with a modernized version of Robber Baron capitalism. But it’s hard to blame them for this, considering that about the only people you see praising “the free market” in the mainstream media are, well, Robber Barons.

The private sentiments of the so-called friends of “free enterprise” — people like Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, and Dick Armey — are probably more honestly represented by former Archer Daniels Midland CEO Dwayne Andreas: “The competitor is our friend and the customer is our enemy.” “The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.”

Tom Friedman, the foremost defender of corporate globalization, knows exactly what the system really requires:

“For globalism to work, American can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is.  The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

But then, I like the cheerfully sociopathic Blago unknowingly recorded on the phone (“effing golden”) a lot better than the guy on the talking head shows who lifts his eyes heavenward and compares himself to Gandhi and Mother Theresa. At least with people like Andreas and Friedman, you know what you’re dealing with. No hokum about “free enterprise.” Just flaming death from the skies for anybody who fails to ratify the Uruguay Round TRIPS accord or stops using the dollar as a reserve currency.

Read more at c4ss.org

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time To Divorce Marriage and Government

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

Marriage licenses are a fairly new invention, created in the mid-nineteenth century as a tool the state could use to enforce social proscriptions on interracial marriages.  By the early twentieth century they were nearly universally required as enforcement tools for the state’s increasing regulation of inheritance, parental authority, taxes and other matters.  Churches were subsumed into the new regulatory scheme — required to themselves obtain licenses both as establishments and for their officiants, in order to perform wedding ceremonies and act as agents of the state in enforcing those licenses.

A license is defined as “the permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission, would be illegal.”  By obtaining a marriage license, a couple is begging for permission of the state to marry, which places both love and the church under the authority of government.  While the state often condemns polygamists, it  requires couples to marry a de facto third spouse — the government itself.

Read more at c4ss.org

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Musopen Wants to Give Classical Music to the Public Domain

Breaking the Information Monopoly

This is the kind of article that gladdens my heart. No blamethrowing, no psychorants made up of buzzwords and soundbites. An honest assessment of what's happening and what can be done.

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

What the current information landscape represents is an inkling of a free society in practice. Cheap startup costs and the distribution of knowledge foster nearly unlimited competition. Trust can be verified by sourcing (which makes news research more participatory), by recommendation from trusted services (which is based on individual choice and reputation, not on legislative mandates), and by peer recommendation. This is good news for those of us who don’t trust the authorities to put our interests ahead of the interests of those who make a living by advising them.

Read more at c4ss.org

Do We Really Need WikiLeaks?

Nick Ford at C4SS asks the musical question "Do We Really Need WikiLeaks?" Well, yes, we do. But more in the sense of leading by example than irreplaceability.

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

What would happen without Assange and WikiLeaks? In little to no time they’d be most likely be replaced. The social networking revolution against top-down hierarchies like the state would continue with or without them. It is a given that there is no reason to rely on WikiLeaks or one organization to carry on the work of delegitimizing the state in the public mind. Rather, this can be continued through networking on an anonymous, decentralized, and horizontal manner. There is no need for any central organization such as Wikileaks in the first place; the individuals that take the action and have the drive to go against the state are the true heroes.

Read more at c4ss.org

Monday, August 23, 2010

Organic guilt - Armed and Dangerous

Pain Ray Installed in California Prision

An Active Denial System (called "Assault Intervention System" in the article) being tested in California correctional facility.

Amplify’d from www.pasadenastarnews.com

The "Assault Intervention System" (AIS) developed by the Raytheon Co., could give the Sheriff's Department "another tool" to quell disturbances at a 65-inmate dormitory at the Pitchess Detention Center's North County Correctional Facility, said Cmdr. Bob Osborne, head of the technology exploration branch of the sheriff's Department of Homeland Security Division.

AIS fires a directed beam of invisible "millimeter waves" that cause an unbearable burning sensation by penetrating 1/64 of an inch into the skin, where pain receptors are located, said Mike Booen, Raytheon's vice president of advanced security and directed energy systems.

The beam, which is about the diameter of a compact disc, causes an instant and intolerable burning sensation when it touches skin, but the sensation stops instantly when the device is turned off or the target moves out of the beam.

Similar devices have already been sold to the U.S. military, however the machine demonstrated Friday is the first to be placed in an American correctional institution, sheriff's officials said.

It is being installed as a test case at no cost to the Sheriff's Department, as part of a program through the National Institute of Justice, officials said.

"Millimeter wave" devices have been tested on more than 10,000 subjects so far and has been shown to cause no lasting injuries, Booen said.

The unit at the Pitchess Detention Center has a range of 80 to 100 feet, which is more than enough for the dormitory space it's to be used in.

When asked if the public can expect to see similar AIS devices mounted on patrol cars in the future or attached to deputies' utility belts, Osborne said, "not in my lifetime."

But Booen said his company is working on much smaller versions of the AIS. Progress on that research is a closely held secret, he added.

"That's our vision," said Booen. "We want to get to the point where it is a hand-held device."

Read more at www.pasadenastarnews.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

DIY Industrial Revolution

Kevin Carson has a nice intro to minifacturing over at C4SS.

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

The main material reason for the factory system and the predominance of wage labor was the technological shift a couple hundred years ago from relatively inexpensive, general-purpose artisan tools to expensive machinery.  Only the very rich could afford the machinery required for production, and they then hired wage laborers to work it.

The computer revolution, and the revolution in cheap garage-scale machine tools, have reversed this shift.  The computer is a cheap, general-purpose artisan tool that has destroyed the quality gap between what a person can produce at work and what they can produce at home, in a whole range of industries:  software, recording, and desktop publishing, among them.

And now cheap digital machine tools mean the same thing for manufacturing.  Open-source hardware hackers have come up with homebrew versions of CNC routers, cutting tables, milling machines, lathes, 3-D printers, etc., that cost one or two thousand dollars (or less) to build — compared to tens of thousands for commercial, proprietary digital tools, and millions for a factory equipped with old-style mass production machinery.

So a garage “factory” with $10k worth of homebrew machinery can do most of what used to require a million-dollar factory.  And with a network of open-source hardware designers, it can design its own products, and produce “lean” style:  producing in small batches and switching back and forth between lots of different products as the orders come in, and gearing production to a local/neighborhood market.  That means low overhead, no inventory, drastically reduced shipping costs, and no mass-marketing costs.

Read more at c4ss.org

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

'John Doe' Speaks Out After 6-year Battle With FBI

Earlier I posted some views on voting ( http://drewt333.amplify.com/2010/08/05/hello-im-drew-im-a-voter/ ). As we learn in PoliSci 101, voting is only a tiny slice of the activism pie. Here's a story of one man who defended his right to be heard while defending the privacy of others.

Amplify’d from www.wired.com

The owner of an internet service provider who mounted a high-profile court challenge to a secret FBI records demand has finally been partially released from a 6-year-old gag order that forced him to keep his role in the case a secret from even his closest friends and family. He can now identify himself and discuss the case, although he still can’t reveal what information the FBI sought.

“After six long years of not being able to tell anyone at all what happened to me – not even my family – I’m grateful to finally be able to talk about my experience of being served with a national security letter,” Merrill said in a statement. “Internet users do not give up their privacy rights when they log on, and the FBI should not have the power to secretly demand that ISPs turn over constitutionally protected information about their users without a court order. I hope my successful challenge to the FBI’s NSL gag power will empower others who may have received NSLs to speak out.”

Read more at www.wired.com

The illustrated guide to a Ph.D.

Haystack: Resistance Technology Without Borders

Monday, August 09, 2010

House Ready to Pass the "Whatever" Bill

I know this for a fact: if I signed off on anything with "XXXXX" as a title, $26 billion worth of spending aside, I would be in the street before the ink dried.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hello. I'm Drew. I'm a voter.

Tom Knapp over at C4SS manned up and admitted he has a problem.

He's a voter.

Well that monkey's on my back too, and he's got his teeth in my neck pretty deep.

"Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." ~ Otto von Bismarck

Voting is indeed part of the ugly, filthy, bloody, bone-grinding process of turning your hopes, dreams, ideals and principles into law sausages and I'm hooked. I don't vote to "win." What is there to win? I vote so the sleazy spin-meisters of the Demopublican elite know what extra hoops they have to jump through before they can even dream of getting my vote.

And I won't vote for them. I'm cruel that way.

Some say "If voting could change anything they'd make it illegal." Did that work for booze? Has "making it illegal" worked for pot, sex, cheating on your income tax? No.

If voting could change anything they'd regulate it, making sure you could only do it at approved times in approved places for approved reasons.

And if they don't approve, it doesn't count.

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

Yes, I voted. Schlepped down to the polling place on Tuesday, presented my papers, and poked the screen until the machine informed me that I had successfully cast my ballot.

The anarchist arguments against voting (“it only encourages them;” “if it changed anything, they’d make it illegal;” “it falsely legitimizes the system”) all strike me as sound, although Murray Rothbard’s “voting as self-defense” argument holds some water, too.

The “voting as self-defense” bit was part of what got me this time (this one last time, just this one last time, I keep promising myself).

Read more at c4ss.org

Armistice Day on Net Wars? Not Yet

Will Google and Verizon make a stand for internet liberty? Or is this the thin end of the wedge for federal regulation?

Net Neutrality, Verizon and Google: A Separate Peace?

"The buzz in telecom policy circles this morning is the word that Verizon and Google are close to an agreement that will allow the search giant to purchase from Verizon a faster tier for delivery of its bandwidth heavy services, notably YouTube, its video-sharing site.

"If the two companies reach an agreement, it could be a death blow to the entire “non-discriminatory” idea behind network neutrality: that no service provider should be give favored treatment to any service or application. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has made it a mission to get the “non-discrimination” principle encoded into law, to the point of calling for reclassification of broadband ISPs as regulated telecommunications carriers."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

True Economic Liberty: Not a Conservative Idea

Time to Feel Good About Feeling "Bad"

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

For many years I believed my constant irritation with the willful ignorance and thundering stupidity copiously displayed by humankind was something to be ashamed of. But shame and regret couldn't stop the natural, logical revulsion at blatant displays of smug corruption and gleeful malice. For my own self-preservation I decided to enjoy my "bad attitude." In a moment of zen-like clarity I entered a state of "joyous antipathy." I learned damn quick that my feelings of self-righteous superiority were no less despicable than the smug boasting of any schoolyard bully.

"Hate the sin, love the sinner." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Well, "love," is a rather strong term. I think I'll stick with a sort of "compassionate distaste" for now. I will enjoy the freedom to call "Bullshit!" when I smell it. While the freedom lasts.

Amplify’d from c4ss.org

The next time you hear complaints about someone having a “bad attitude,” keep this in mind: It’s entirely because of people with “bad attitudes” that you’re not a slave. For the fact that you’re not working on a chain gang building a pyramid, you should thank all those whose previous bad attitudes won your present degree of freedom. Their bad attitudes echo down to us through time as the principal obstacle to your re-enslavement in the here and now.

When, in all of human history, have those with wealth and power ever willingly surrendered the tiniest crumb of it, or extended the range of freedom by a single milimeter, merely because in the goodness of their hearts they thought it would be a nice thing to do? Have the classes that own the world ever voluntarily reduced the tribute they charged to labor?

No. Throughout history, what Adam Smith called “the masters of mankind” have been motivated by a single “vile maxim”: All for ourselves and nothing for other people. They have departed from it only in the face of resistance. To quote Frederick Douglass, power concedes nothing without a demand.

Read more at c4ss.org

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Egalitarians Against Democracy

On the drawbacks of democracy and the advantage of a market in governance.

Consumer Spending Doesn’t Drive the Economy

Amplify’d from www.thefreemanonline.org

The truth is that consumer spending does not account for 70 percent of economic activity and is not the mainstay of the U. S. economy.   Investment is!   Business spending on capital goods, new technology, entrepreneurship, and productivity are more significant than consumer spending in sustaining the  economy and a higher standard of living.  In the business cycle, production and investment lead the economy into and out a recession; retail demand is the most stable component of economic activity.

Read more at www.thefreemanonline.org

Travel by Quantum Entanglement

What would it mean to be instantaneously replaced by a near exact duplicate? The only difference being the origin of the atoms composing your mass?

Amplify’d from www.npr.org

But Monroe's work is a long way from being able to teleport a living being. The problem with such an act, Kaku says, is that "you have to be destroyed in order to have your body teleported to the other side of the room. So if you've been destroyed and teleported, then who is that person there? They have the same memory, the same jokes, the same everything, except the original was destroyed in the process of being teleported."

Read more at www.npr.org

Monday, August 02, 2010

Reason is a shameless lawyer kept on retainer by our desires

So says Mike Gibson at 'Let a Thousand Nations Bloom.'

I agree with Mr. Gibson's conclusion: "Truth seeking does not come naturally so if we care about such things, we ought to pay greater attention to the incentives for finding them."

Brief aside: isn't 'moral psychologist' another way of saying 'philosophy major?'

Amplify’d from athousandnations.com

At the Edge, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt recommends a thought provoking paper on the function of reasoning in human interaction. In case you haven’t heard, it turns out Reason is a shameless lawyer kept on retainer by our desires. We’re hardwired to argue to attain higher in-group status and to form winning coalitions. Contrary to what intellectuals, Kant, Rawlsians, deliberative democrats, and other wordsmiths in the academic zoo will tell you, argument is seldom about truth seeking. It is about winning. Sez Haidt:

Read more at athousandnations.com

Needed: Civics Lessons for Elected Officials

Flatcap has posted a youtube video on Government Against the People underscoring a dangerous delusion about the Federal government. This 'urban legend' of unlimited Federal power has spun out of hand. How long will we let this blatant abuse continue?



Lay aside for the moment your feelings about healthcare. This is a question about Federal authority. The questioner—who talks like a Libertarian—bravely asserts that there are Constitutional limits to Federal power. Representative Pete Stark claims the Federal government “can do most anything in this country.” The people understandably jeer at this remark.

Read more at governmentagainstthepeople.wordpress.com