Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

general thoughts on economics and government, IMO

March 9, 2011

Some thoughts after a discussion with a friend and self-described “libertarian”:

Government isn’t a means to a socially prosperous end. However, government can serve a positive (or negative) role during the process of social change. It’s a tool that may be beneficial or harmful depending on how it’s put to work. Regarding contemporary economics, implementing a purely laissez-faire or strict command economy will surely stifle. Our nature (which we’ve inherited yet differs from, the animals) demands a nuanced approach. We must be given the freedom to learn as individuals yet our aggression is best kept in check, at least to some degree. I think of our current existence as wounded yet promising. We’re often in conflict; that is our history and present. Confronted with scarcity and a fear of it, greed often dominates and we ruthlessly compete. Yet, we are capable of deep compassion and often, with no strings attached, care for others and the environment. I think government can be useful medication for the wound as we heal; or it can be salt.

Freedom Box

February 22, 2011

Today I decided to support Freedom Box. Funding for the project is hosted on Kickstarter. I encourage contributions but if that’s not possible, please read the following excerpt below explaining why this software is being written.

Why Freedom Box?

Because social networking and digital communications technologies are now critical to people fighting to make freedom in their societies or simply trying to preserve their privacy where the Web and other parts of the Net are intensively surveilled by profit-seekers and government agencies. Because smartphones, mobile tablets, and other common forms of consumer electronics are being built as “platforms” to control their users and monitor their activity.

Freedom Box exists to counter these unfree “platform” technologies that threaten political freedom. Freedom Box exists to provide people with privacy-respecting technology alternatives in normal times, and to offer ways to collaborate safely and securely with others in building social networks of protest, demonstration, and mobilization for political change in the not-so-normal times.

Freedom Box software is built to run on hardware that already exists, and will soon become much more widely available and much more inexpensive. “Plug servers” and other compact devices are going to become ubiquitous in the next few years, serving as “media centers,” “communications centers,” “wireless routers,” and many other familiar and not-so-familiar roles in office and home.

Freedom Box software images will turn all sorts of such devices into privacy appliances. Taken together, these appliances will afford people around the world options for communicating, publishing, and collaborating that will resist state intervention or disruption. People owning these appliances will be able to restore anonymity in the Net, despite efforts of despotic regimes to keep track of who reads what and who communicates with whom.

principled pain and suffering?

December 15, 2010

Australian politician Bronwyn Bishop wants those “stolen” cables “retrieved”. After getting schooled on Digital Info 101, she later admits that her desire is a futile attempt to put the genie back in the bottle. Yet she won’t entirely back down. She claims to stand for something. Something…”principled”.

Update: Apparently, I’ve been had. The Twitter account is not Bronwyn Bishop’s. I’m going to leave this post up as a reminder to myself and others that things are not always as they seem on the Internet.

apology failure

September 10, 2009

Generally, I have no problem with Joe Wilson saying “You lie!” during Obama’s speech in regard to “good manners” or “unbecoming behavior”. Manners and behavior are overrated. If Obama lied, then such protestation could be justified. What’s disturbing is Wilson’s apology:

“While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable.”

If you disagree, you don’t accuse another of lying, you state why there is disagreement. Joe had a chance to shed light thru his apology (i.e. bring proof of Obama’s intentional dishonesty), but proved the purpose of his outburst was disruptive, not honorable. Disruptive heckling is blurring the line between town-hall meetings and joint sessions of the United States congress.

school trek

September 7, 2009

It’s true folks, they’re “beaming him in”. Using a transporter operated by Montgomery Scott, Obama will arrive to deliver his promotional death panel speech and lay the groundwork for the upcoming “federal takeover” of all US schools. Americans should man their battle stations, “speak out with one voice”, and ask the president to disengage immediately.

“thanks”, brokep

July 6, 2009

Apparently, some Pirate Bay users are unhappy that the site is being (has been?) sold. I’m not sure why there’s gloom – it’s just a site. Instructions to download similar files can be (and are) hosted on other sites. For nostalgia, some may desire the name “Pirate Bay” to refer to an uncompromising domain (it’s quite possible users may see the site compromised in the future) – but nostalgia is useless.

The money generated from the sale will go to an unnamed foundation that understands the political importance of this issue. As well, the video/audio tags of HTML 5 could (but not necessarily) make the Video Bay a site that needn’t require visitors to install any proprietary software on their machines in order to have a quality experience. The avoidance of proprietary software is what makes “breaking” any technical restriction as easy as slipping out of Jell-O handcuffs.

What I did notice is that the Video Bay asks one to register with an email address and tag it with a username. I sympathize when it comes to those posting, but it’s unclear to me why one who simply wants to watch/listen to and/or download a file must register.  So while my thanks are sincere, they do come with scare quotes. This is more information about you in the hands of others. Why does the Video Bay require this? Will it always operate this way?

a (cynical?) perspective on this historic US presidential election

November 6, 2008

While some may label this as cynicism, my joy over the election results comes not from an Obama/Biden win as much as a McCain/Palin loss. What I do hope for, is that eight years from now I’ll be celebrating the win.

Obama, McCain, and Lessig

October 27, 2008

Glyn Moody calls it libel:

Although it is unclear at this point who Senators Obama and McCain might choose, AAP believes it essential that key officials who will deal with intellectual property issues in a new administration have a full understanding of the importance of intellectual property rights for those who hold these rights and for broader U.S. economic and trade interests. AAP is concerned, for example, that based on their past academic relationship, Senator Obama might choose among his appointments a divisive figure such as Larry Lessig – a law professor and leading proponent of diminished copyright rights.

Suggesting that Lawrence Lessig would make a poor advisor due to an insufficient understanding of the effects of US copyright law, is ludicrous. Not only does Lessig understand copyright, he understands copyright in a digital and networked world – the world some publishing companies fight to put the brakes on using DRM and the DMCA. Most importantly, Lessig understands that our new technologies don’t fit the old law. It’s this mismatch that drives the conflict and division, not him. If anyone has done the work it takes to find a common ground – a solution that not only respects the importance of copyright but is pragmatic in the face of new technology, it’s Lessig.

Obama should not only request Lessig’s assistance, he should beg him for it.

glassbooth: election 2008

October 15, 2008

A friend/colleague passed Glassbooth on to me. The results:

1. Cynthia McKinney

2. Ralph Nader

3. Barack Obama

4. John McCain

5. Bob Barr

With less than a month to go, it’s obvious that – like usual – the structure of American presidential politics and mainstream media have circumscribed the potential winners (McCain vs. Obama). Until America’s high-stakes two-party system is overhauled, I’m compelled to endorse Obama instead of a higher ranking candidate for pragmatic reasons. That is, a vote for Obama/Biden is a vote to stop McCain/Palin. Sad but true.

Care to share your results?

the Foos fight McCain

October 9, 2008

MSNBC reports that the McCain campaign is being asked by the Foo Fighters to stop playing “My Hero” at political rallies. The band released a statement claiming:

To have [the song] appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song.

Only property can be “appropriated”, not copyrighted work. Unfortunately, the Foo Fighters mistakenly refer to copyright as “Intellectual Property” which just confuses the issue. However, if we insist on playing the “property” analogy game, the closest action to “appropriation” would be to claim authorship. The McCain camp did not do this.

The only way to “tarnish” a copyrighted work is to change it and distribute or perform the derivative work without notice of the adjustments. Even then, “tarnish” is really in the eye of the beholder. There is no “tarnishing” when using a context (e.g. a rally) in trying to persuade an audience toward an interpretation of an original work left intact.  And while an exception to persuasion would surely be a rally promoting hatred, the McCain campaign is at worst promoting stupidity, not hate. So long as the song’s attribution stays intact, it’s used non-commercially, and is non-derivative in nature, I lean heavily toward laws allowing such uses of published art, regardless of how much I sympathize with the Foo Fighters in this case.

Putting the law aside however, I see it in the best interest of the McCain camp to cease using the song and honor the request of the artist. Politically, they’ve nothing to gain by fighting the Foos on this one.