Wednesday, July 31, 2013

GeekWeaver Lives!

A story over on SmartDisorganized about the return of GeekWeaver and why my software is like Cthulhu.

Bradley Manning Verdict

Julian Assange :
Today Bradley Manning, a whistleblower, was convicted by a military court at Fort Meade of 19 offences for supplying the press with information, including five counts of ’espionage’. He now faces a maximum sentence of 136 years.

The ’aiding the enemy’ charge has fallen away. It was only included, it seems, to make calling journalism ’espionage’ seem reasonable. It is not.

Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions, and induced democratic reform. He is the quintessential whistleblower.

This is the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short sighted judgment that can not be tolerated and must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is ’espionage’.

President Obama has initiated more espionage proceedings against whistleblowers and publishers than all previous presidents combined.

In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that praised whistleblowing as an act of courage and patriotism. That platform has been comprehensively betrayed. His campaign document described whistleblowers as watchdogs when government abuses its authority. It was removed from the internet last week.

Throughout the proceedings there has been a conspicuous absence: the absence of any victim. The prosecution did not present evidence that - or even claim that - a single person came to harm as a result of Bradley Manning’s disclosures. The government never claimed Mr. Manning was working for a foreign power.

The only ’victim’ was the US government’s wounded pride, but the abuse of this fine young man was never the way to restore it. Rather, the abuse of Bradley Manning has left the world with a sense of disgust at how low the Obama administration has fallen. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness.

The judge has allowed the prosecution to substantially alter the charges after both the defense and the prosecution had rested their cases, permitted the prosecution 141 witnesses and extensive secret testimony. The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to crack him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial.

The Obama administration has been chipping away democratic freedoms in the United States. With today’s verdict, Obama has hacked off much more. The administration is intent on deterring and silencing whistleblowers, intent on weakening freedom of the press.

The US first amendment states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". What part of ’no’ does Barack Obama fail to comprehend?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

My First Fiverr Gig

Things that interest me : Quora, Fiverr, RSS, scripting, micromarkets ...

What if you put them together? My first Fiverr gig!


Well, first I wrote a quick script to extract my recent Quora answers as part of taking back control of my online writing. Then I offered it to Quorans, but realized that, for some, the technical aspects would be too difficult for them to download and use. How else might those people engage my hack?

At the same time I'm thinking a lot about micromarkets, the future of work (both my personal future and more general questions about how it's going to be organized), about where RSS and feeds are going in the post-Google-Reader / Fargo age.

It seemed like a fun experiment to do.

BTW : Thanks to my mother for the great flower picture I used to advertise this gig. Originally I posted a screenshot of the text of some Quora answers and them reformatted in a new page. But Fiverr obviously thought that was too boring and rejected the gig until I changed it. A beautiful, but irrelevant, flower seems to be more to their taste.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Edward Snowden's Statement

Edward Snowden :
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Yelling At Strangers In The Gutter

Notice I have the feed from Yelling At Strangers (my linkblog) now included in the gutter on the right of this blog.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Vinay on Snowden etc.

Vinay has a good overview of where we are now :

I don’t know what happens next. Snowden has shone a lot of light into a very, very dark corner, but there are vastly worse corners which are still in darkness.

There are three main factions of response to the new reality in which we operate. They are

Germany pushes back using international law against US intrusion into its sovereignty. The US likewise.

Civil Libertarians push back within the court system in America and the UK asking for answers, real oversight, and civil rights.

Cipherpunks now push end-to-end encryption of all messages as a basic civic duty by which we attempt to protect each-other from the State gone wrong.

The hardest part of all of this is going to be keeping all of these groups cooperating and moving in the right direction. The Germans, of course, want data retention and the right to spy on their own citizens, as most EU countries do. They will be quite unhappy with the cipherpunks. The civil libertarians are quite distrusting of encryption as an end-run around the legal system, a technical implementation of a civil right that could be over-turned by superior technology: a worthy argument, but let them change the law to comply with the Constitution then complain about crypto. Finally, the non-state wing of the cipherpunks view international and national action as a distraction: the system cannot be fixed, the guilty cannot be punished, and the only available approach is to remove the power of the State to do what we do not wish it to: a digital insurrection.

The desperate need right now is for orientation to the new reality that Snowden’s actions have exposed. The old map of superpower alliances may be toast, with China, the EU and Russia allied against the US in at least basic security concerns. The black-clad paranoids of the hackerspaces are now fully vindicated, and preparing GPG and OTR for mass adoption is now an urgent step. Finally, the ACLU & co are now, without a doubt, completely vindicated – but can they actually close with their targets, or will they be intimidated and fobbed off by corrupt courts?

It is all to play for, but discard your old map and do the analysis from scratch. There is much more going on than the old models predicted. Gods help all of us as we reorient and reintegrate, and take action to survive.

Disorientation is normal. Go about your day, citizen!

Yelling At Strangers From The Sky

In an attempt to wean myself off the big YASNS / cloud providers, I have a new link-blog on the super-cool Tumblr Fargo outliner  : Yelling At Strangers From The Sky

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

RIP Doug Engelbart

Update: Dave Winer (indirectly) reminds us that Engelbart's watchword was "bootstrapping", that is incremental / piecemeal development.
Bootstrap is an ancient computer science term. When you turn on a computer it bootstraps, or "boots." First it loads the most ancient bit of code, probably written in the 1970s. It runs a program written in the 80s, which in turn launches a program written in the 90s. Each of the levels loads only for the purpose of loading the next bit of history. Doug Engelbart was the first to use the term in the context of this piece, as far as I know. All engineers bootstrap all the time. To understand bootstrapping is to understand software, imho. It's the process that matters, not the bits, or system requirements.

Today "lean" and "agile" are the hyped terms, but Engelbart was on the case here too.

Update 2:
But this would also be a corner-turn for the VC industry, because, as it's now structured, they funnel tens or hundreds of millions of dollars through a relatively small number of companies. However an opportunistic VC would have an incubator (call it something else if you want) that flows much smaller amounts of money to the bright eyes, without much fuss and not many strings attached, while we figure out how to get a few backplane companies going.

Did Dave just invent Y-Combinator?

Evo Morales Plane Stopped In The Search For Snowden

VIENNA (Reuters) - Bolivia accused Austria of "kidnapping" its president, Evo Morales, on Wednesday after authorities searched his plane during a stop-over in Vienna on suspicion he was taking fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden to Latin America.

A senior Bolivian diplomat said the Austrians had acted at the bidding of the United States, which has been trying to get its hands on Snowden since he revealed details of its secret surveillance programs last month.

"We're talking about the president on an official trip after an official summit being kidnapped," Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, told reporters in Geneva.

The Bolivian plane, which was taking Morales home from an energy conference in Moscow, was stranded at Vienna airport for several hours after Portugal and France refused to allow it to fly through their airspace.

The search found that Snowden was not onboard and the plane eventually left Vienna about noon on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Snowden is believed to be still in the transit area of a Moscow airport, where he has been trying since June 23 to find a country that will offer him refuge from prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.

Flying 3D Printer

It's a gratuitous stunt, but it's nice someone tried it.

Nice Delta RepRap