Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Monday, November 04, 2013
If the German and French governments – and the German and French people – are so pleased to learn of how their privacy is being systematically assaulted by a foreign power over which they exert no influence, shouldn't they be offering asylum to the person who exposed it all, rather than ignoring or rejecting his pleas to have his basic political rights protected, and thus leaving him vulnerable to being imprisoned for decades by the US government? Aside from the treaty obligations these nations have to protect the basic political rights of human beings from persecution, how can they simultaneously express outrage over these exposed invasions while turning their back on the person who risked his liberty and even life to bring them to light?
You start with no pieces and as the game opens, you build lots of weak little ships. Their physical size means they don’t take much material and print quickly. That fire power buys you enough time to invest in building stronger big ships. These might take upwards of 15 minutes to build, but choose carefully, you’ll be blocking your production queue. With your 3D printer behind a sheet of cardboard, your opponent knows that you are are building, and for how long you’ve been building, but not what you are building. The whirr of your stepper motors give tantalizing hints of your strategy. Of course, you’ll be able to cancel production mid-way for an incomplete downgraded/vulnerable piece, like the partially constructed Death Star.
Update : Check out Shapeways Game Section for context.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Here's a performance that was recorded on Friday. Of the Corpo Baletroacústico at an "integrated performance" seminar in Goiania. You don't see me but I'm playing one of the computers in the orchestra : the one that's making a kind of wooshing sound in the background of the second movement, and slightly more harmonic chords at the beginning of the third, with a few stabs of noise later on.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
We've been doing some death-related activities in Senhoritas Cafe in Brasilia recently.
Here's the laptop orchestra playing a couple of months ago :
Meanwhile, here's some "reporting from Hell" played at a more recent event.
My new link-blog: Yelling At Strangers From The Sky is out of action. It seems that Trex, the server behind Fargo, has serious problems.
I'm still dropping links into this outline, because the principle of having microblogging under my control is a good one. But I'll have to find a way to render the output from this blog.
Hint : It may have something to do with GeekWeaver :-)
Hint 2 : Solutions that involve me hacking something together sometimes ... take ... time ...
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
After the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, few would argue that al-Shabaab is not a terrorist organization. But al-Shabaab is involved in a local war, and is not invested in attacking the US homeland. The indictment against Moalin explicitly stated that al-Shabaab's enemies were the present Somali government and "its Ethiopian and African Union supporters". Perhaps, it makes sense for prosecutors to pursue Somali Americans for doing essentially what some Irish Americans did to help the IRA; perhaps not. But this single successful prosecution, under a vague criminal statute, which stopped a few thousand dollars from reaching one side in a local conflict in the Horn of Africa, is the sole success story for the NSA bulk domestic surveillance program.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Sunday, September 15, 2013
If you want a picture of where Conservatives of all stripes are taking Britain, picture this.
A Roma woman, "Tanja", whose family arrived in Britain illegally, is in a room of the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre, a block of bland modern buildings in the Bedfordshire countryside surrounded with barbed wire.
According to Tanja's account, a male guard locks the door. He pulls out his earpiece, perhaps to make sure he is not disturbed, and after some initial touching, he pushes his penis in her face. He laughs when he ejaculates in her mouth – so confident is he that he can escape punishment. As Mark Townsend reports in today's Observer, her allegations are not exceptional. One officer is alleged to have had sexual contact with four women. And there may be others we know nothing about.
Put yourself in Tanja's shoes and you will understand why something like this might happen. Take an isolated young woman, locked up in a detention centre, run for the British state by Serco, a private company that has built its profits by taking over public services. The corporate guards confine her and can punish her. One starts thrusting himself on her. What does she do? She could think that she has to go along with him or he'll put her on the next plane out. Or she could believe that if she does what she is told she will be in a relationship with an Englishman and that somehow this "affair" (if that is not too romantic a word) will allow her to stay in the country.
Either way, you might imagine that all targets of sexual predators agree on one point: they fear that, if they complain, deportation will follow. They may not be wholly deluded. Tanja was apparently targeted by three of Serco's creeps. A UK Border Agency investigation found that the three officers behaved unprofessionally in having sexual contact with Tanja. Police are examining a complaint that some of it was non-consensual.
The increasingly privatised criminal justice system has an interest in covering up mistreatment. I don't want to join the Pavlovian chants of "public good/private bad". The public sector is more than capable of hiding its vices, as the police and National Health Service demonstrate with dispiriting regularity. But although a scandal can destroy careers of individual public servants, it will not destroy the institution they serve. Whatever happens, the Metropolitan Police will still police London.
By contrast, scandal poses an existential threat to private corporations. If the complaints grow too loud, they can lose a contract. If they lose too many, they will go out of business.
Optimistic promoters of privatisation believe that the threat of bankruptcy is a market discipline that forces firms to meet higher standards than the sluggish public sector can attain. They have not grasped that the parasitic version of state capitalism Britain has developed is just as likely to regard secrecy as an essential self-defence mechanism. The officers at Yarl's Wood were not driven by market forces to offer a better service.
As for our leaders, can you imagine David Cameron, Theresa May or Chris Grayling giving thunderous speeches on the need to uphold decent standards in publicly funded institutions? Instead of announcing that they are willing to protect the vulnerable, they thunder that legal aid for poor claimants is a swindle that allows fat cat lawyers to get rich at the taxpayers' expense. Instead of ordering inquiries, they manipulate the law to stop the judiciary reviewing abuses of power by the likes of detention centre guards.
Chris Grayling, to take an asinine example, claimed last week that the courts have been taken over by left-wing agitators. Among their number our ignorant justice secretary includes the shire Tories who oppose HS2 and admirers of the Plantagenets who want a public consultation on where to bury the remains of Richard III, as if a nostalgic affection for the House of York were a leftwing cause.
We would not have published a word about Yarl's Wood were it not for the heroic efforts of Harriet Wistrich, the best feminist lawyer I know. But she will not be able to carry on bringing cases like these to the public's attention for much longer.
The legal aid cuts are not directed against fat cat lawyers, who continue to make their fortunes in the City, but against solicitors such as her, who do well if they make £40,000 a year. More seriously, they are directed against their clients.
As of this year, poor litigants, who could once take cases to court about their employment, their children's education, personal injury, clinical negligence, debt and housing no longer can. On matters of vital interest to them – and to wider society – they are beyond the rule of law.
The denial of access to justice falls with particularly severity on the state's detainees. The government will soon remove legal aid from prisoners who claim that their captors have mistreated them. As for the immigrant women, they will fail a new residency test and be denied access to justice too.
Wise politicians understand that the further they climb up the hierarchy, the less they know about the behaviour of public servants. They welcome challenges, not least because they warn them about the failures of the bureaucracy they are meant to control.
Coalition ministers, by contrast, abhor scrutiny. They don't want to know and don't want you to know either. They are using the Leveson report to limit press scrutiny and restrictions on litigation and expenditure to limit judicial scrutiny. They get away with it because the authoritarian left cheers them on when they attack freedom of the press and the authoritarian right cheers them on when they attack equality before the law.
No one is going to punish ministers. There are few votes in defending legal aid and none in defending public money going to that most despised group: illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. Even Observer readers may not want to hear about them and would much prefer to see a piece on Miley Cyrus. If so, don't worry. By this time next year, the sources for stories like ours on the women of Yarl's Wood will have disappeared. It will be as if they don't exist.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Personally I think people have Smart Watches the wrong way around. They think that watches are going to be an extra screen for mobile phones.
To me, the biggest problem with the device swarm, particularly Ubuntu's idea that your phone becomes your main computer, but portable, is that it's just so damned easy to lose it.
To me, the obvious move is to use the watch as the main processor / storage for a mobile computer (how often do you lose your watch?) and use a tablet as a dumb input / output device.
(I guess there are battery problems though.)
Thursday, August 22, 2013
FORT MEADE, Md.—The swift and brutal verdict read out by Army Col. Judge Denise Lind in sentencing Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison means we have become a nation run by gangsters. It signals the inversion of our moral and legal order, the death of an independent media, and the open and flagrant misuse of the law to prevent any oversight or investigation of official abuses of power, including war crimes. The passivity of most of the nation’s citizens—the most spied upon, monitored and controlled population in human history—to the judicial lynching of Manning means they will be next. There are no institutional mechanisms left to halt the shredding of our most fundamental civil liberties, including habeas corpus and due process, or to prevent pre-emptive war, the assassination of U.S. citizens by the government and the complete obliteration of privacy.
Wednesday’s sentencing marks one of the most important watersheds in U.S. history. It marks the day when the state formally declared that all who name and expose its crimes will become political prisoners or be forced, like Edward Snowden, and perhaps Glenn Greenwald, to spend the rest of their lives in exile. It marks the day when the country dropped all pretense of democracy, obliterated checks and balances under the separation of powers and rejected the rule of law. It marks the removal of the mask of democracy, already a fiction, and its replacement with the ugly, naked visage of corporate totalitarianism. State power is to be, from now on, unchecked, unfettered and unregulated. And those who do not accept unlimited state power, always the road to tyranny, will be ruthlessly persecuted. On Wednesday we became vassals. As I watched the burly guards hustle Manning out of a military courtroom at Fort Meade after the two-minute sentencing, as I listened to half a dozen of his supporters shout to him, “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley! You’re our hero!” I realized that our nation has become a vast penal colony.
If we actually had a functioning judicial system and an independent press, Manning would have been a witness for the prosecution against the war criminals he helped expose. He would not have been headed, bound and shackled, to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His testimony would have ensured that those who waged illegal war, tortured, lied to the public, monitored our electronic communications and ordered the gunning down of unarmed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen were sent to Fort Leavenworth’s cells. If we had a functioning judiciary the hundreds of rapes and murders Manning made public would be investigated. The officials and generals who lied to us when they said they did not keep a record of civilian dead would be held to account for the 109,032 “violent deaths” in Iraq, including those of 66,081 civilians. The pilots in the “Collateral Murder” video, which showed the helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad that left nine dead, including two Reuters journalists, would be court-martialed.
The message that Manning’s sentence, the longest in U.S. history for the leaking of classified information to the press, sends to the rest of the world is disturbing. It says to the mothers and fathers who have lost children in drone strikes and air attacks, to the families grieving over innocent relatives killed by U.S. forces, that their suffering means nothing to us. It says we will continue to murder and to wage imperial wars that consume hundreds of thousands of civilian lives with no accountability. And it says that as a country we despise those within our midst who have the moral courage to make such crimes public.
There are strict rules now in our American penal colony. If we remain supine, if we permit ourselves to be passively stripped of all political power and voice, if we refuse to resist as we are incrementally reduced to poverty and the natural world is senselessly exploited and destroyed by corporate oligarchs, we will have the dubious freedom to wander among the ruins of the empire, to be diverted by tawdry spectacles and to consume the crass products marketed to us. But if we speak up, if we name what is being done to us and done in our name to others, we will become, like Manning, Julian Assange and Snowden, prey for the vast security and surveillance apparatus. And we will, if we effectively resist, go to prison or be forced to flee.
Manning from the start was subjected to a kangaroo trial. His lawyers were never permitted to mount a credible defense. They were left only to beg for mercy. Under the military code of conduct and international law, the soldier had a moral and legal obligation to report the war crimes he witnessed. But this argument was ruled off-limits. The troves of documents that Manning transmitted to WikiLeaks in February 2010—known as the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs”—which exposed numerous war crimes and instances of government dishonesty, were barred from being presented. And it was accepted in the courtroom, without any evidence, that Manning’s release of the documents had harmed U.S. security and endangered U.S. citizens. A realistic defense was not possible. It never is in any state show trial.