Archive for the 'Post Tipping Point' Category

The Conet Project TCP / 1111 is funded!

Monday, December 31st, 2012

We just received notification that The Conet Project: TCP / 1111, the five disc edition, has successfully reached its funding goal, over by one percent.

Thank you to everyone who blogged, tweeted, emailed, encouraged, and put their money where their mouths are.

The further in to the twenty first century we go, the better it gets. Crowdfunding. Bitcoin. The Free State Project.

Exiting times ahead, for certain.

Happy New Year to all BLOGDIAL readers!

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The solution to the GMO problem: a withering, internet mediated boycott

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

In the film of Dune, Paul Atreides scans a box of the Spice Melange with a hand held device, before eating a sample. Passing the device over the spice, and it finding no contamination the device intones ‘safe’ in a soft female voice.

This is all you need to stop the contamination of the food supply with GMO goods.

An iPhone app that connects to a database of all food products known to be safe could be used to inspect every barcode on products you buy, returning safe, or nothing.

If you buy a product that returns nothing, this means it is either safe or not in the database, or that it is a GMO contaminated product and you should not eat it.

It is important that the software works in this way, because it means that the developers will not be at risk of a lawsuit for a wrongly labeled product, placed in the database by mistake. All that is needed is a database of clean foods, not a database of all good foods AND bad foods.

There is a piece of software that works in this way, with a focus on books:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snaptell/id291920403?mt=8

With this app, you can scan the cover of any book, or its barcode and the software will retrieve entries on Amazon and other sites for you to buy it.

There is no reason why an app that scans the barcodes of products and returns wether or not they are contaminated could not be written, very quickly, to address this problem. Creating this software would be a piece of cake.

It is clearly pointless to run to the State to ask it to, “protect our food”. In any case, it isn’t your food until you buy it, and you cannot rely on the State for protection from every possible harm, and neither should you. This is especially true when the protection you need can be had straight away and under your control, totally ethically, without force of any kind.

Clearly there are millions of people who do not want to consume GMO contaminated foods. All of these people either have iPhones or Droids in their pockets. The market is ripe for an app that can put these two together to stamp out GMO food once and for all, via the power of a complete boycott, mediated by the internet on portable devices.

Bitcoin and the State: Asking permission to be free

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Should people who want to see the widespread and rapid adoption of Bitcoin seek tight regulation and integration with the State, or should they rely only on their skills as developers, marketers and entrepreneurs to create the rock solid, reliable and trustworthy products that people will use in their millions, like the other well known internet companies that have changed the way we do things?

*****

A Bitcoin innovator has just applied for and received a registry entry from the US Federal Government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network:

http://www.fincen.gov/financial_institutions/msb/msbstateselector.html

on that linked page you can read the following statement clarifying FinCEN’s position on each entry they list:

“The inclusion of a business on the MSB Registration Web site is not a recommendation, certification of legitimacy, or endorsement of the business by any government agency.”

This disclaimer appears on the certificate as the first paragraph, in large letters. The certificate also says that, FinCEN does not verify information submitted by the MSB. Information provided on this site reflects only what was provided directly to FinCEN. Read the rest of this entry »

Using the proliferation of cameras to identify provocateurs

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

From BLOGDIAL, “The answer comes before the question” January 13th, 2009

http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=1517

[…]

Imagine this scenario. Someone somewhere sets up a Web 2.0 site that features photos of bad police and other officials, or those mysterious agent provocateurs that have been plaguing the useless demonstrations around the world. Imagine that the software behind this site (which could be connected to iPhoto 09) identifies all the bad people and exposes them to the public, nullifying all acts of political infiltration over night. Anyone setting up any sort of anti-state gathering or demonstration or action could, with a gauntlet of workers armed with iphones, vet every demonstrator as they turned up to weed out all the infiltrators, collaborators and provocateurs.

I guarantee you that this will happen, and not only that, but that someone is going to put into a copy of iPhoto 09, a huge archive of photos from demonstrations and political meetings going back decades to pick out the bad guys.

This explosion and convergence of technologies is a double edged sword, and since there are more of us than there are of them, it will be the case that all this technology and the networks that join them together will result in something totally unexpected; the tools may turn around and bite the state in the ass in an unexpected way. The very nature of networks says that this will happen; the population by virtue of its vast networked numbers can overpower any government in a scenario where the network is the power.

We are not powerless like the slaves in the Soviet Union were. We have fantastic tools, all of them free, right in our hands. Those tools, by the act of using them, change the game entirely, and the more the state pushes against the mass, the more dense and impenetrable it becomes.

This is a war that they cannot ever win.

[…]

Now look at the attached video, uploaded to YouTube by noshockdoc on Nov 11, 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

1+1=2 but 1,000,000+1,000,000=history

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

The popular media are full of ‘news’ about Greek finances and their impact on the political landscape of Europe and beyond;

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick: Greece’s 130bn bailout merely buys it time

Robert Zoellick, the outgoing President of the World Bank, has warned that Greece’s latest 130bn (108bn) bailout would merely buy it time, adding that a European recession would hamper crucial reforms needed to lift the area out of the crisis.

The desperate acts of vainglorious politicians (not to mention the blinkered journalists who insist political /economic restructuring is the big story here) are of interest for one reason only: to remind us of that feature noted by Thomas Carlyle in his opus of 1837.

Hunger and nakedness and righteous oppression lying heavy on 25 million hearts: this, not the wounded vanities or contradicted philosophies of philosophical advocates, rich shopkeepers, rural noblesse, was the prime mover in the French revolution; as the like will be in all such revolutions, in all countries.

I am indebted to Edward Hallett Carr and his magnificent lectures collected in ‘What Is History?’ for selecting this quote in his discussion that history is ‘a matter of numbers’.

Athens mayhem raises fears of Greek social explosion

(Reuters) – Greek political leaders say the nation must accept yet more punishing austerity or face a social explosion, but after a night of violence and destruction in Athens, some people fear this explosion may already be about to begin.

‘Punishing austerity’ lies heavy on more hearts every day. The number grows. History awaits.

THX-1138 leaks out in Egypt

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Save us from the lawyers and the luddites

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

John Matonis has a new and excellent post on his ‘Monetary Future’ blog.

In it, he logically goes through some of the issues surrounding Bitcoin. It is well worth reading.

One section however, spurred this BLOGDIAL post. It’s the part about Vili Lehdonvirta’s ideas on ‘virtual goods’…

[…]

I am worried that Bitcoin is a step too far as it leaves no possibility for even democratic governments to enforce their laws. This is a topic I would love to debate with the community and hear opposing views. I think the end result could be a better understanding for me, but also a better understanding for the Bitcoin community on how to live in harmony with democratic authority.

Absolutely astonishing. A ‘step too far’? Towards or away from what exactly? We do not want to live in harmony with democratic authority. Democratic authority, to us, is inherently illegitimate, evil, immoral and completely unjustifiable. There are people who are attracted to Bitcoin precisely because it is beyond the control of ‘democratic authority’. As for it being a step too far, we must bear in mind that no one is forcing anyone to use Bitcoin. You decide on your own to use it, and if it succeeds or fails, you take the benefit or profit or losses respectively. Violent Statists are of course, vehemently opposed to free trade, voluntary exchange and liberty. Bitcoin is to the Statist as sunrise is to Dracula.

Matonis chimes in with…

For the most part, I respect Vili Lehdonvirta’s academic work on virtual goods ownership, but he harbors confused thoughts on the broader acceptance of bitcoin through dilution of its most beneficial properties, because he mistakenly extends the notion of virtual goods legal recognition to virtual currency legal recognition.

Fascinating. The Statists from the legal profession class are described by Murray Rothbard in ‘For a New Liberty’ as follows:

We see clearly why the State needs the intellectuals; but why do the intellectuals need the State? Put simply, the intellectuals livelihood in the free market is generally none too secure; for the intellectual, like everyone else on the market, must depend on the values and choices of the masses of his fellow men, and it is characteristic of these masses that they are generally uninterested in intellectual concerns. The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a warm, secure, and permanent berth in its apparatus, a secure income, and the panoply of prestige.

[…] since the early origins of the State, its rulers have always turned, as a necessary bolster to their rule, to an alliance with societys class of intellectuals. The masses do not create their own abstract ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and promulgated by the body of intellectuals, who become the effective opinion moulders in society. And since it is precisely a moulding of opinion on behalf of the rulers that the State almost desperately needs, this forms a firm basis for the age-old alliance of the intellectuals and the ruling classes of the State. The alliance is based on a quid pro quo: on the one hand, the intellectuals spread among the masses the idea that the State and its rulers are wise, good, sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable and better than any conceivable alternatives. In return for this panoply of ideology, the State incorporates the intellectuals as part of the ruling elite, granting them power, status, prestige, and material security. Furthermore, intellectuals are needed to staff the bureaucracy and to plan the economy and society.

[…]

In all societies, public opinion is determined by the intellectual classes, the opinion moulders of society. For most people neither originate nor disseminate ideas and concepts; on the contrary, they tend to adopt those ideas promulgated by the professional intellectual classes, the professional dealers in ideas. Now, throughout history, as we shall see further below, despots and ruling elites of States have had far more need of the services of intellectuals than have peaceful citizens in a free society.

[…]

For States have always needed opinion-moulding intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable; into believing that the emperor has clothes. Until the modern world, such intellectuals were inevitably churchmen (or witch doctors), the guardians of religion. It was a cozy alliance, this age-old partnership between Church and State; the Church informed its deluded charges that the king ruled by divine command and therefore must be obeyed; in return, the king funneled numerous tax revenues into the coffers of the Church. Hence, the great importance for the libertarian classical liberals of their success at separating Church and State.

For a New Liberty

The whole idea of ‘Digital Goods’ is a fallacy, created by Statist professionals in order to gain a foothold in the emerging digital economy that threatens to disrupt their authority and completely replace the old world economy in many areas, specifically the delivery of films, books and music, and now through Bitcoin, the process of moving money around the globe.

The fallacious notion of ‘Digital Goods’ is pyramided on the idea that copyright (an artificial concept of the State) is legitimate and logical. As is the case with copyright, the idea of Digital Goods conflates the correct idea of property rights in real-world physical goods with a false right in intangible pure information, which can be infinitely copied, transmitted and transformed without loss.

An idea can have a human originator, but once that idea is conveyed to another man, it resides in the mind of that man. The only way that you can prevent that second man, the receiver, from using this idea is to initiate force against him. On this basis alone copyright as a legitimate idea falls, since it violates the non aggression axiom. I will leave it to you to explore the rest of this idea at your leisure. I also strongly recommend that you read ‘Against Intellectual Monopoly‘.

Bitcoin is an extraordinary and important innovation. It is the first system where a ‘Digital Good’ cannot be double spent. That means Bitcoins can be duplicated perfectly an infinite number of times, but they cannot be spent more than one transaction at a time between two people.

Bitcoins retain all the qualities of information (near zero cost transmission, infinite transformability, infinite lossless replicability), but the Bitcoin ecosystem changes them into something that has some of the qualities of physical property, whilst retaining all of the advantages of pure information. You can actually own a Bitcoin secure in the knowledge that even though everyone can read your Bitcoin, make copies of it, and see it in the Block Chain, they cannot steal it from you and spend it. You can copy Bitcoins ad infinitum, but inside the system is the only place where they have value or more accurately, utility. Bitcoin is the first instance of a digital representation that has some of the scarcity properties of a physical good.

Interestingly, this idea if transposed onto a music file, picture or film, could not work to prevent people using (double spending) those things, because there is no inherent value in owning a digital copy of a music file, film or book.

Imagine that instead of digital signatures, the Bitcoin block chain was used to control signed MP3 files. You could then have an ecosystem where unique copies of tracks (unique in that they were digitally signed, could not be forged and ownership was verifiable) could circulate for payment. The problem with this is that in this scenario music has two uses, one when it is stored in a file, and another when it is played in a music player, as well as being a string of numbers stored somewhere. There is also the ‘problem’ of the intent of music creators being that the same music is available to many people all at once.

Bitcoins do not have any use other than to confirm that they are owned by someone. This is why they can be used to transmit money over the internet. A digression, but interesting nonetheless, because this is the sort of thinking the large media companies should be doing or paying to have done for them, if they want to survive in any form over the next decade.

Apart from the revolutionary and singular case of Bitcoin in the Bitcoin ecosystem, all digital representations of ideas have zero intrinsic value, because they can be copied at a cost that approaches zero. In fact, the more copies there are, the lower the cost of obtaining a copy becomes because there are more storage locations to get them from and the cost of your time to search for them decreases. On some level, the law industry understands this, as they put pressure on Google to remove search results that point to files they claim contain ‘intellectual property’ belonging to their clients.

Digital technology has changed the way the world handles information forever. Trying to superimpose the outmoded, ridiculous and erroneous 19th century ways of thinking about property and business on people living today is a fruitless and anti-human endeavour. What’s more, it does not make everyone more honest and make business more efficient. Look at the dispute resolution mechanisms in eBay and Amazon, and you get a glimpse of how the free market works to protect everyone and benefit everyone. The State does not poke its snotty nose into the dispute resolution systems of these online services and the vast majority of transactions happen without any problems, and where there are problems, they are resolved within the mechanisms of the services to everyone’s satisfaction.

Just as the buggy whip makers, the lake ice industry and all superseded industries were eliminated by progress, the notion that music, books and any work that can be digitised should remain scarce, by force, is an astonishingly evil idea. The difference in people today as compared to those living in the age of the horse and cart it seems, is that this generation of men is not sufficiently agile, and a subset of them is unwilling to pivot and change business models to deal with the new reality. This is probably due to the very rapid pace of change, and the fact that there appears to be no future whatsoever for the people in the business of hoarding and supplying scarce information distributed in physical containers. They are squeezing this model for every drop of blood they can get before it becomes untenable to ask for money in exchange for physical discs or files.

Ill informed and self interested cronies and Statists are trying to keep man in horses and carts when the internal combustion engine car is in the garage of every home. It simply doesn’t make any sense on any level, is immoral, and the only reason why they can get away with it is they have an agent with the monopoly of violence to back them up: the State. In absentia of this force, no one would listen to the Statists, the MPAA/RIAA, the luddites, the lawyers, the buggy whip manufacturers and the Statists. Since they offer nothing of value, they would simply be ignored.

I predict that there will come a time when none of these people are taken seriously, and they are ignored and sidelined. The world simply will not be held down to the level of Stone Age Man to suit the needs of a vanishingly small number of venal, violent and ignorant men and their blinkered apologists. The dispute resolution systems that are an emergent property of sites like Amazon and eBay will spread out into the real world, making the State and its proponents redundant. It would be a fascinating project to try and separate these arbitration services and generalise them so that the public could use them instead of the courts of the State.

The fact of the matter is that lawyers have no right to tell anyone how to voluntarily exchange goods and under what terms those goods are to be exchanged. Their role is to arbitrate in disputes where both parties agree to be subject to the rules of the arbitrator, and nothing more. Because the vast majority of humans can exchange without disputes, they must create conflict in this area to maintain their social status and incomes, with the help of the State. This is why lawyers support the fallacious idea of copyright, and why they want to extend this sickness to Bitcoin, and all areas online.

The Statists refuse to accept reality, or cannot understand it, or understand it and actively fight to control it with violence. Lawyers especially have the most to gain from keeping the immoral, illogical and absurd copyright laws in force.

Or do they?

The fact of the matter is that once copyright laws are removed from all statute books, the amount of work for lawyers will not decrease, but will in fact increase, as creative people adapt to the new business models.

For example, no one has the right to steal a physical disk from anyone. If a musical work is created and stored in a fixed medium, and the right to be the first to sell it is sold to someone, a person who steals that disc and releases what is stored on it could be held liable for the damage caused to both contracting parties.

A disc of an unreleased highly anticipated pre-sold masterpiece would have an agreed value that is set out in a contract, and a value in pre-sales. Once it is leaked by theft and no one will pay for it, losses have been imposed upon the creative party, since exclusivity has been broken by the thief. In this scenario, damages are not calculated by how many copies are in the wild but by the fact that a physical disc has been stolen, its contents leaked and sales potential has been destroyed through cancellations. This is of course, completely separate from a work that is released on a disc, sold to a person, and that person making a copy for whatever reason. This is entirely legitimate, for reasons laid out clearly in Against Intellectual Monopoly.

This scenario is the same as someone breaking into a jewellery store and stealing a diamond necklace. Once that necklace has been stolen, it cannot be sold to someone else. The scenario of a pre-release disc being stolen and released is even worse, because the irreplaceable, unique first use opportunity has been destroyed forever. This is the true nature of the damage and theft done to both parties by this sort of act; the value of such a theft can be estimated and a valid moral claim made against a thief. Once again, this has nothing to do with the subsequent copies made by people who got a hold of the data by whatever means.

I use the example of the theft of a necklace deliberately, because it is used by the copyright monopoly to justify everyone being forbidden from making copies of what they own. Note how I am separating the act of copying what you have legitimately purchased from the destruction of potential by an unauthorised pre-release of a stolen disc.

There are many other circumstances where fault can be placed in this scenario. For example, if one party fails to maintain security and this is the cause of the leak, someone is at fault and has to pay. This can be laid out explicitly in a contract. These byzantine details are the job of lawyers to sort out, set terms for and organise. It is for lawyers to define these agreements, fix the agreed penalties, pursue the wrong doers in case of a breach of information. This would be a huge amount of complex work, worth an enormous amount of money. Lawyers are major beneficiaries of a world without copyright.

Of course, once a suite of music or book or other information is released, it can be copied ad infinitum, but then the next thrill is the thing that is valuable, and the public has an insatiable appetite for the new; this is just one possible model for the creative to explore, and of course, since they are the creative, its up to them to think of new ways of approaching the market in a reality where every idea can be copied and can spread world-wide in a matter of hours, if you hit exactly the right note.

The ignorant, imagination-less Statists want to prevent this astonishing world of the super abundance business model from fully emerging. They are doing everything they can to wreck the exponential growth of tools, contracts and technology that will unarguably benefit the entire planet, for the sake of a handful of ignorant, comfortable, computer illiterates.

Unfortunately for them, the harder they push against the internet, the stronger it becomes. Every service they have tried to cripple has either resulted in that service strengthening or spawning new services. Bulletin Board Systems, IRC DCC channels, Napster, Gnutella, Bittorrent are all examples in chronological order of how software outpaces the luddites, and of course, that list excludes the peripheral discoveries like MP3 that fuel the creation of new services.

This is a battle that they cannot win and which they should not win, because they have no case or moral foundation whatsoever.

Read this article in Hungarian.

Robots, socks and gloves

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Whilst reading over the comments to the video of some robotic, brainwashed OWS chanters trying to disrupt a Ron Paul speech, I noticed something that seemed vaguely familiar; a comment, which in content and form looked like many other comments I have been coming across that try and discredit Ron Paul by misrepresenting his ideas.

Unfortunately for the people who are doing this, Google can help us find out if they are an organized group or not.

Here is the root comment that looked suspiciously like many comments that I have read, from Raw Story:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/21/ron-paul-gets-mic-checked-by-new-hampshire-protesters/#disqus_thread

and here is another example from a YouTube comment stream:

http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=lI1gvPmA_c8

You can find your own examples yourself. There are quite a few out there, with slightly different wording and in different contexts. A cursory search indicates that there might be a small group of people who are behind these comments. I don’t have time to research who they are with any precision. But we can do an analysis of what they are up to.

This activity is called ‘Glove Puppetry’ or more commonly Sock Puppetry.

Groups of people with an agenda to change the tone or direction of an online discussion, for money or the lulz, take on positions that are different to (opposition for money) the polar opposite of (opposition for lulz) the dominant group in a thread or stream of comments, to manipulate them, troll them and destroy any chance of a reasoned linear discussion.

Sock puppetry is also being done by the State, to try and influence public opinion. You can read about this practice in these links.

This is a very interesting subject, on many levels. Can Sock Puppetry work in the age of the internets? Google is only a click away from any instance of puppetry, so any lie can be instantly neutralised. Also, a Sock Puppet entering into a nest of people who are thinking in one way (correctly or not) cannot gain traction without being exposed as a troll and voted down where a down arrow is available. Sock Puppets do not believe what they are typing, they are working off of a script. Within one or two replies you can spot a Sock Puppet because their thinking and writing is not coherent. When the script comes to its end, all they have is ad hominem attacks, which means they lose.

We wrote about this as an example of Baudrillard’s ‘Mass’. You should read ‘In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities‘ for some insight into the difficulty of penetrating coherent groups of people who are thinking in one way, though in this case the fit is not exact.

In the meantime, now that you have these two examples, you know the format of the current organised poison trolling that is taking place wherever a Ron Paul discussion or stream of comments is in progress. I will leave it to you to find your own examples, and to discover who the source of these troll / Sock Puppet posts is.

Hopefully, if enough people find out about these Sock Puppets, their effect will be neutralised. Its good to refute the bad arguments of people who are misguided, but wasting time on Sock Puppets is not a good use of time.

Police Undercover Snatch Squads and Agents Provocateurs

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The unintelligent, inexperienced and completely deluded students are out again in force, to be kettled, sheared, abused and used as fodder to provide the police with much needed overtime money.

What is interesting here is that we may be seeing the seed of the idea that all the video cameras that everyone has by default could be used for something useful, active and defensive, instead of just a child’s toy.

From BLOGDIAL, “The answer comes before the question” January 13th, 2009

Imagine this scenario. Someone somewhere sets up a Web 2.0 site that features photos of bad police and other officials, or those mysterious agent provocateurs that have been plaguing the useless demonstrations around the world. Imagine that the software behind this site (which could be connected to iPhoto 09) identifies all the bad people and exposes them to the public, nullifying all acts of political infiltration over night. Anyone setting up any sort of anti-state gathering or demonstration or action could, with a gauntlet of workers armed with iphones, vet every demonstrator as they turned up to weed out all the infiltrators, collaborators and provocateurs.

I guarantee you that this will happen, and not only that, but that someone is going to put into a copy of iPhoto 09, a huge archive of photos from demonstrations and political meetings going back decades to pick out the bad guys.

This explosion and convergence of technologies is a double edged sword, and since there are more of us than there are of them, it will be the case that all this technology and the networks that join them together will result in something totally unexpected; the tools may turn around and bite the state in the ass in an unexpected way. The very nature of networks says that this will happen; the population by virtue of its vast networked numbers can overpower any government in a scenario where the network is the power.

We are not powerless like the slaves in the Soviet Union were. We have fantastic tools, all of them free, right in our hands. Those tools, by the act of using them, change the game entirely, and the more the state pushes against the mass, the more dense and impenetrable it becomes.

This is a war that they cannot ever win.

http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=1517

[…]

Now look at this video, uploaded to YouTube by noshockdoc on Nov 11, 2011:

If these people had any sense, they would have already set up this web service as I described in 2009.

Using Augmented Reality ID:

They could check each ‘protestor’ against the online database of Agent Provocateurs and police officers to make sure that they had not been infiltrated.

Of course, anyone who is that smart is not interested in demonstrating in the first place, but we will leave that aside for now.

The point is, these young and very foolish people are behaving as if it is 1960 and not the end of 2011. As I have said before, again and again, the age of demonstrations is over. The shape of them, how they play out, move, surge and flow is well understood. There can be no surprises with them. Nothing comes of them, no matter how large they are, as we saw with the StopWar demonstrations before the destruction of Iraq.

The problem these people have is that if they were intelligent enough to know this, they would not be demonstrating, and would be well on the way to formulating a strategy that would actually give them what they want. Their problem, clearly, is a toxic mix of a lack of intelligence and experience.

They do not know exactly what they hope to achieve with these acts, they have no discrete goals or deliverables, they have no means of creating a new strategy because they lack the mental capacity to formulate one; in other words, they are a completely lost cause.

One thing that is coming out of this is interesting however.

Because everyone has a camera at these demonstrations, it might come to pass that the light bulb switches on over the head of some computer science student as she realises that it should be possible to create what I describe in the post above.

There are literally dozens of cameras in this clip; surely someone somewhere must be thinking that there is a use that can be put to the footage to help weed out the provocateurs. Who knows?

What we can say with a high level of certainty is that these students are going to achieve nothing by marching in the street. Everything they are planning, even if it is not known about in advance by surveillance is easily counter-able because marching and demonstrating is a ‘dead tactic’ that the State has a perfect understanding of.

All of this is a complete distraction of course; even this very post has distracted me from doing something else productive. Unless by chance it spurs the creation of the system I have been writing about.

Once again, demonstrations are ‘Yellow Ribbon Thinking’:

http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=1152

they divert energy from useful acts and thinking, and prevent or delay permanent solutions from emerging. You should not participate in them; instead, you should be working only on things that have discreet goals and that has metrics that you can measure directly so that you can know if you are being successful or not.

Why the quoted price of Bitcoin doesn’t matter

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Bitcoin is a very new technology, even though the concept that it brings to life is decades old. The double spending problem has been solved; this means that it is possible to use a digital certificate to stand in the place of money and be sure that no one else can spend that certificate other than you as long as you hold it. This is an unprecedented paradigm shift, the implications of which are not yet fully understood, and for which the tools do not yet exist to fully take advantage of this new idea.

This new technology requires some new thinking when it comes to developing businesses that are built upon it. In the same way that the pioneer providers of email did not correctly understand the service they were selling for many years, new and correct thinking about Bitcoin is needed, and will emerge, so that it reaches its full potential and becomes ubiquitous.

Hotmail used familiar technologies (the browser, email) to create a better way of accessing and delivering email; the idea of using an email client like Outlook Express has been superseded by web interfaces and email ‘in the cloud’ that provides many advantages over a dedicated client with your mail in your own local storage.

Bitcoin, which will transform the way you transfer money, needs to be understood on its own terms, and not as an online form of money. Thinking about Bitcoin as money is as absurd as thinking about email as another form of sending letters by post; one not only replaces the other but it profoundly changes the way people send and consume messages. It is not a simple substitution or one dimensional improvement of an existing idea or service.

As I have explained previously, Bitcoin is not money. Bitcoin is a protocol. If you treat it in this way, with the correct assumptions, you can start the process of putting Bitcoin in a proper context, allowing you to make rational suggestions about the sort of services that might be profitable based on it.

If Bitcoin is a protocol and not money, then setting up currency exchanges that mimic real world money, stock and commodity exchanges to trade in it doesn’t make any sense. You would not set up an email exchange to buy and sell email, and the same thing applies to Bitcoin.

Staying with this train of thought, when you type in an email on your Gmail account, you are inputting your ‘letter’. You press send, it goes through your ISP, over the internets, into the ISP of your recipient and then it is outputted on your recipient’s machine. The same is true of Bitcoin; you input money on one end through a service and then send the Bitcoin to your recipient, without an intermediary to handle the transfer. Once Bitcoin does its job of moving your value across the globe to its recipient it needs to be ‘read out’, i.e. turned back into money, in the same way that your letter is displayed to its recipient in an email.

In the email scenario, once the transfer happens and the email you have received conveys its information to you, it has no use other than to be a record of the information that was sent (accounting), and you archive that information. Bitcoin does this accounting in the block chain for you, and a good service built on it will store extended transaction details for you locally, but what you need to have as the recipient of Bitcoin is money or goods not Bitcoin itself.

Bitcoin’s true nature is as an instant way to transmit money anywhere in the world. It is not an investment, or money itself, and holding on to it in the hopes that it will become valuable is like holding on to an email or a PDF in the hopes it will be come valuable in the future; it doesn’t make any sense.

Despite the fact that you cannot double spend them and each one is unique, Bitcoins have no inherent value, unlike a book or any physical object. They cannot appreciate in value. Mistaken thinking about Bitcoin has spread because it behaves like money, due to the fact it cannot be double spent. This fact however has masked Bitcoin’s dual nature of being digital, duplicable and not double spendable.

Bitcoin is digital, with all the qualities of information that make information non scarce. It sits in a new place that oscillates between the goods of the physical world and the infinitely abundant digital world of information, belonging exclusively to the digital world but having the characteristics of both. This is why it has been widely misunderstood and why a new approach is needed to design businesses around it.

All of this goes some way to explain why the price of buying Bitcoins at the exchanges doesn’t matter. If the cost of buying a Bitcoin goes to 1 This does not change the amount of money that comes out at the other end of a transfer. As long as you redeem your Bitcoins immediately after the transfer into either goods or currency, the same value comes out at the other end no matter what you paid for the Bitcoins when you started the process.

Think about it this way. Let us suppose that you want to send a long text file to another person. You can either send it as it is, or you can compress it with zip. The size of a document file when it is zipped can be up to 87% smaller than the original. When we transpose this idea to Bitcoin, the compression ratio is the price of Bitcoin at an exchange. If a Bitcoin is $100, and you want to buy something from someone in India for $100 you need to buy 1 Bitcoin to get that $100 to india. If the price of Bitcoin is 1 then you need 10,000 Bitcoins to send $100 dollars to India. These would be expressed as compression ratios of 1:1 and 10,000:1 respectively.

The same $100 value is sent to India, wether you use 10,000 or 1 Bitcoin. The price of Bitcoins is irrelevant to the value that is being transmitted, in the same way that zip files do not ‘care’ what is inside them; Bitcoin and zip are dumb protocols that do a job.

As long as the value of Bitcoins does not go to zero, it will have the same utility as if the value were very ‘high’.

Bearing all of this in mind, its clear that new services to facilitate the rapid, frictionless conversion into and out of Bitcoin are needed to allow it to function in a manner that is true to its nature.

The current business models of exchanges are not addressing Bitcoin’s nature correctly. They are using the Twentieth Century model of stock, commodity and currency exchanges and superimposing this onto Bitcoin. Interfacing with these exchanges is non-trivial, and for the ordinary user a daunting prospect. In some cases, you have to wait up to seven days to receive a transfer of your fiat currency after it has been cashed out of your account from Bitcoins. Whilst this is not a fault of the exchanges, it represents a very real impediment to Bitcoin acting in its nature and providing its complete value.

Imagine this; you receive an email from across the world, and are notified of the fact by being displayed the subject line in your browser. You then apply to your ISP to have this email delivered to you, and you have to wait seven days for it to arrive in your physical mail box. The very idea is completely absurd, and yet, this is exactly what is happening with Bitcoin, for no technical reason whatsoever.

It is clear that there needs to be a re-think of the services that are growing around Bitcoin, along with a re-think of what the true nature of Bitcoin is. Rethinking services is a normal part of entrepreneurialism and we should expect business models to fail and early entrants to fall by the wayside as the ceaseless iterations and pivoting progress.

Bearing all of this in mind, focussing on the price of Bitcoin at exchanges using a business model that is inappropriate for this technology simply is not rational; its like putting a methane breathing canary in a mine full of oxygen breathing humans as a detector. The bird dies even though nothing is wrong with the air; the miners rush to evacuate, leaving the exposed gold seams behind, thinking that they are all about to be wiped out, when all is actually fine.

Bitcoin, and the ideas behind it are here to stay. As the number of people downloading the client and using it increases, like Hotmail, it will eventually reach critical mass and then spread exponentially through the internet. When that happens, the correct business models will spontaneously emerge, as they will become obvious, in the same way that Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook, cellular phones and instant messaging seem like second nature.

In the future. I imagine that very few people will speculate on the value of Bitcoin, because even though that might be possible, and even profitable, there will be more money to be made in providing easy to use Bitcoin services that take full advantages of what Bitcoin is.

One thing is for sure; speed will be of the essence in any future Bitcoin business model. The startups that provide instant satisfaction on both ends of the transaction are the ones that are going to succeed. Even though the volatility of the price of Bitcoin is bound to stabilise, since it has no use in and of itself, getting back to money or goods instantly will be a sought after characteristic of any business built on Bitcoin.

The needs of Bitcoin businesses provide many challenges in terms of performance, security and new thinking. Out of these challenges will come new practices and software that we can only just imagine as they come over the horizon.

This article is available in Hungarian

US CENTCOM Strategy of Troll FAIL

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

As the empire starts to crumble, and the talking heads in the MSM dwindle in influence, replaced by the likes of Alex Jones and Infowars, desperation methods are being rolled out to try and sabotage alternative and social networking media.

It will not work.

The problem they have is one of reputation, and six degrees of separation.

Because everyone is connected to everyone else by only six steps, it is now impossible to inject a lie into the hive mind of The Mass and have that lie survive scrutiny.

We have spoken about The Mass before on BLOGDIAL; it is the accurate prediction of the Twitter mediated hive mind that is impervious to the State and its lies.

Even if this vile attack on the truth through manipulation and lies was successful in any way, countermeasures can be built in software that would completely eradicate the influence of these glove puppet agents provocateurs.

Using the model of the PGP web of trust and the fact of six degrees of separation, it is possible to build a self organising, self healing global network of trusted introducers who can re-tweet only what is known to have not come from a glove puppet.

These trusted introducers and their messages would carry more weight than any glove puppet, and in fact, Twitter almost does this spontaneously through its simple method of people following each other and getting to know the sort of tweets that come out of the people they follow.

Anyone who uses these social networking tools understands that un-following is instant, adaptive network healing; if someone you follow says something that is a lie you either refute them by replying in public or un-following them and never again re tweeting their messages.

These simple actions are like the behaviour of antibodies fighting off infection, in this case, the infection of lies told by lying glove puppets.

These military people simply do not understand the world the are now living in. They cannot use their ridiculous twentieth century PSYOP strategies by ‘upgrading‘ them and superimposing them on Twitter; it simply will not transpose to these media.

What they must now realise is that lying as a strategy is finished. This would be the breakthrough that would put them on a strong footing for total domination of the social networking space. Sadly (or happily) they simply have not got a clue, nor the ethical foundation to make the correct strategic decision.

Lets do this!

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

They will fail.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

Wait a minute, is it the US Military, or is it some snake-oil salesman in California who made a successful pitch?

The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet.

This is utter nonsense, Grauniad style. Censorship has nothing to do with organised glove puppetry; everyone can continue saying whatever it is they like, unimpeded. Can these morons even define the words they are using? Shocking stupidity, and par for the course at the Grauniad!

Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.

Critics are nothing more than cry babies whining instead of writing software. As I say above, a web of trust can be built either spontaneously or with software designed to tamp down glove puppetry and MILCOMTROLLS. You can always spot trolls very easily, especially when they use templates or multiple identities to spam comments. The Telegraph comments sections are full of garbage; all you have to do to tune it out however, is to set Disqus to ‘best rated’.

The single act of people rating comments up (and not down, there is no downvote button) crowd-sources the bullshit out of sight. If an organised team of MILCOMTROLLS tries to hijack the comments, it is always the case that the best refuting comment outshines the glove puppetry, and the takeover backfires completely.

The people who put this contract out to tender have absolutely no idea how any of this works, and it is going to backfire on them spectacularly. Just ask Johan Hari about how Google can expose misdeeds in English. Any MILCOMTROLLS that try and poison threads or spin the hash tags will be spotted, outed and crowded out, reinforcing the exact opposite messages that they are trying to push.

The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities known to users of social media as “sock puppets” could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

So what? Its just like other governments wanting nuclear weapons because the USA has them, or countries like India wanting ID Cards because most European countries have them.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.

This is unfeasible, and if it is feasible, the web of trust can isolate and expunge these glove puppets. Also, consider that when individuals write blog comments or send tweets, they think about what they are writing, instead of working from a script. The only way this MILCOMTROLL plan could possibly work is if they hired individuals to write from the MILCOM point of view, genuinely on a case by case basis, with the target articles distributed to them for attack.

You cannot create a fool proof system where one person can control ten identities and not be crowded out or discovered. Because each of these identities, credible or not, will all be propagating the same point of view, this fact alone would be enough to characterise, isolate, and quarantine them.

Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”

Ron Paul 2021!

He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to “address US audiences” with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.

Its unlawful to glove puppet in English for American audiences, but its A-OK to ASSASSINATE Americans.

You cant make this stuff up.

Centcom said it was not targeting any US-based web sites, in English or any other language, and specifically said it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.

Lies lies and more lies.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.

Once again, coordinated messages will be identified and neutralised. Think about this as a possible way of destroying the effectiveness of this dastardly plan.

Akismet is a distributed tool for eliminating spam. It is 99.99% effective. A system like that could be used to completely eliminate the occurrence of glove puppets and mass up/downvoters.

Since these people will be working in a coordinated way, their acts will be synchronised. It will be possible to identify them as a group and then systematically exclude them from showing up in comments or as up-votes. Digg has some experience in this, where massive groups of paid Diggers were organised to push stories onto the front page. Since these people all work together, it only takes a few instances of them working to simultaneously to generate a unique fingerprint of their behaviour, which can then be tested against when future MILCOMTROLL style attacks are initiated.

Of course, all this happens silently in the software, so like SEOs trying to game Google, they will meet with a very serious problem the instant they roll this programme out. Anyone working with Gmail knows that it is spam free. This proves that distributed, collaborative filtering and secret sauce software can work to keep out the bad guys.

Centcom’s contract requires for each controller the provision of one “virtual private server” located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

These people are not going to be posting in English. This is a big hurdle for the glove puppets who are going to be operating their MILCOMTROLL identities. Online credibility is not just a matter of getting an accurate word for word translation of an idea; there are cultural references, nuances and cues that the American military are notoriously and hopelessly bad at. Can you imagine some shorn headed operative in jungle camo, sitting in an air conditioned room in Tampa Florida, trying to pass herself off as a muslim man in Riyadh? Or ten different people in Riyadh?!

The whole idea is simply ridiculous, and in fact the targets of this rubbish will not need any special software to detect these MILCOMTROLLS, they will give themselves away when they post during prayers or some other stupid (and fatal) basic cultural error.

It also calls for “traffic mixing”, blending the persona controllers’ internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer “excellent cover and powerful deniability”.

This is snake oil straight from the brochure. NO $ALE!

The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces.

Ridiculous. There were no al-Qaida in Iraq before the Americans got there. This is pure and utter bullshit, and those with memories longer than goldfish know this. The war of blowing people to bits, and pictures of it, are worth many thousands of MILCOMTROLLS. You cannot win hearts and minds with a gun, or a drone. Period. This is a waste of time and a waste of money, and I strongly suspect that anyone who has been on a tour in Iraq will confirm this. The military are giving more money to Ron Paul; more than all the other candidates combined. This is not an accident; these people know what is really going on, and no amount of snake oil, lies, glove puppets or trolls can stop the truth from coming out.

Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

And its not working, on a purely objective PR level, removing all aspects of right or wrong, who started what or anything other than the measure of mindshare. All you have to do is watch the propaganda that these people produce on LiveLeak. No troll, no commenter no one can counter the stark shock value of what these people are disseminating. They are winning the PR war because their PR is quantitatively better. Once again, this has nothing to do with what you personally think about them and their motives, its a pure matter of mathematical fact.

OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.

The best counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme would be to elect Ron Paul. It is a scientific fact that all terrorism against the USA would cease thirty days after Ron Paul was elected.

Do you think that that is a big claim to make? Very well, dont believe, me take it from someone, the only person in fact, who has done a 100% accurate study of the true nature of terrorism: Professor Robert Pape, in his lecture “Dying to Win”

In this lecture, he will prove to you with unassailable facts that if Ron Paul wins, terrorism goes away.

This month Petraeus’s successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV “supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities”.

This is utter nonsense on stilts. The ‘enemies narrative’ as outlined by Dr. Pape is that America is occupying other people’s countries. That is the ONLY narrative, and no amount of glove puppetry can alter this fact. Only a complete removal of American forces from foreign lands can change the narrative and end the nightmare.

[…]

Finally, we get to the ‘me too’ part of the article:

It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that “a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person’s prejudice”. However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered “prejudice” as a result.

Is an online identity, a nom de plume a ‘false instrument’? Any website that takes comments from anyone using any name has entered into a contract where such an act is acceptable, and so de-facto, the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 could not apply. The fact is that UK law is not anywhere near being relevant to glove puppetry and where they apply existing law, they nearly always get it horribly wrong, like the recent case of the autistic Troll imprisoned for… trolling.

Trolling is a simple matter of freedom of speech (property rights). The people who own the servers are publishing on their own property. They enter into contracts with people who leave comments. It is as simple as that. There is no space in that contract and interaction for the State to interject itself.

This article was amended on 18 March 2011 to remove references to Facebook and Twitter, introduced during the editing process, and to add a comment from Centcom, received after publication, that it is not targeting those sites.

[…]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

Yeah, bullshit.

This is so full of fail there is fail spilled all over the floor.

The people who are least susceptible to MILCOMTROLL propaganda are the targets of this insane scheme. They are not going to buy any of this, and any attempt to spin the Twittersphere or blogosphere in English, in the USUK, as they are no doubt trying to do right now, is doomed to failure.

The mass rejects their malignant attempts at influence at every step, and as the economy continues to degrade, all calls to ignore the Federal Reserve, wage more wars, re-elect mobsters and murderers is going to ring so hollow that the sounds will resemble the biggest bell ever cast.

Crony Capitalists deploy glove puppet schizophrenic luddite

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

The crony capitalist copyright monopoly has rolled out its latest delusional computer illiterate schizophrenic luddite, Jeremy Hunt, to try and cripple the internets.

First things first.

Culture does not need a secretary. The idea that the State should have a position to ‘have a say’ in matters to do with culture is absurd on its face. Art galleries, artists, authors, music makers, sculptors and anyone involved in culture in any way do not need to be overseen, managed, given ‘guidance’ or ‘represented’ by a ministry. Only States like the USSR have traditionally had such corrosive, totalitarian and frankly, disgusting posts. Actually, France has a Minister of Rock & Roll, but France doesn’t count.

Even if you accept that the State should have a ‘Culture Secretary’ the internet is a technical brief, not a cultural one. No doubt there are moves afoot to create a new ‘Secretary for Digital’. The State should not be able to produce these new positions willy nilly, since they are public servants.

OK, Lets do this.

Google should join fight on piracy, says Jeremy Hunt

Culture secretary calls on advertisers and search engines to make life more difficult for those that ignore copyright laws.

What a disgusting, irrational and ridiculous call; to ‘make life more difficult’ for people. The internet exists to make life easier. What Jeremy Hunt is calling for is to cripple the internet, to make service providers divert capital away from improving their services into something that no one but a tiny group of venal beasts want. This is not the call of a human being, this is a call from a monster that wants to destroy progress, inhibit the utility of the greatest invention since fire, and to harm millions of people all over the world. Absolutely repulsive.

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, is to tell Google and other search engines that they should play a greater role in the fight against online piracy. Mr Hunt will ask them to make life more difficult for pirates.

And they are all going to tell him, politely, to go straight to hell. Jeremy Hunt is in good company; he is spouting the same garbage that Andy Burnham used to on this matter.

Copying music is not piracy. It is not theft. The BBC even said so, in a grovelling apology after they aired a scandalous, unforgivable, stupid, retarded and evil attack on Bittorrent and were taken to task for it:

First though, an apology. File sharing is not theft. It has never been theft. Anyone who says it is theft is wrong and has unthinkingly absorbed too many Recording Industry Association of America press releases. We know that script line was wrong. It was a mistake. Were very, very sorry.

If copyright infringement was theft then Id be in jail every time I accidentally used football pix on Newsnight without putting Pictures from Sky Sport in the top left corner of the screen. And Im not. So it isnt.

No where near enough of an apology, but as far as the BBC goes, this is grovelling, first class.

He is expected to tell the Royal Television Societys Cambridge Convention that reasonable steps will make a significant difference, and also make the suggestion that if the industry does not help the Government it will legislate via the new Communication Bill. We intend to take measures to make it more and more difficult to access sites that deliberately facilitate infringement, misleading consumers and depriving creators of a fair reward for their creativity, Mr Hunt will say.

The world is changing. The number of people who know about crony capitalism, the abuses of the RIAA/MPAA and the rest is growing exponentially. Even the scumbag lying State shills at the BBC say that people like Hunt, “..(are) wrong and (have) unthinkingly absorbed too many Recording Industry Association of America press releases”.

Jeremy Hunt is on the wrong side of history, and he hasn’t got the brains to know it. If he does know that what he is saying is unfounded, illogical codswallop, then he is a coward for not stating the plain truth, which is that the internet has changed the way people consume media, these changes are benefits which will bring prosperity to everyone, and the old business models are dead as the Dodo.

The Government wants search engines to penalise website whose content is ruled unlawful. Less prominent results would have a direct effect on revenues from advertisers as well as sales.

If you removed all the links to any torrent site or site that provides links to other sites, what would happen is that someone would write an application that will absorb and re-distribute all those searches. It would spur the creation of a one stop place to find everything you need, and it could be designed in such a way that it can not be shut down. It would make the distribution of links more efficient, and this would mean more file sharing.

The internet sees Jeremy Hunt and his luddite ideas as damage and routes around him and them. Anything that is done to stop people communicating will cause more robust systems to be developed and deployed to bolster communication. We have seen this again and again. Napster was shut down and that caused gnutella to be developed. Then, the Bittorent protocol was developed as a direct answer to the problem of hosting files on central repositories. The same thing can be done with links. A distributed search engine, unstoppable, with no central point of attack will up the stakes and Jeremy Hunt would be the one that caused it to come into being. That is what is called an ‘own goal’ in the UK.

Mr Hunt will argue that online businesses deserve the same legal protection as physical ones. We do not allow certain products to be sold in the shops on the high street, nor do we allow shops to be set up purely to sell counterfeited products. Neither should we tolerate it online, he is set to say.

This is a fallacious, straw man argument. Physical goods are not the same as information and it comes right out of the MPAA script. When you copy a file or an idea, nothing is lost, and more to the point, Google does not facilitate copying, it merely points to resources that may or may not ‘infringe copyright’. There is no reason whatsoever to call upon business to take proactive measures against links that potentially point to items that are not even criminal in the first place.

He will add, however, The government has no business protecting old models or helping industries that have failed to move with the times. But those new models will never be able to prosper if they have to compete with free alternatives based on the illegal distribution of copyrighted material.

This is double talk. Government is protecting the old business models by insisting that there is such a thing as copyright. It is helping industries that have failed to move with the times, explicitly, the music and film industry. Secondly, Hunt says ‘free alternatives’ are bad; what if the new business model is the free model?. By saying that free is not acceptable, Hunt is picking winners, helping the dinosaur media and failing to move with the times. It is not the place of Jeremy Hunt or any public servant to determine which business models are and are not appropriate. Jeremy Hunt is talking nonsense on stilts.

Despite campaigns from internet freedom activists, the high court ruled in July, after a lengthy process, that the internet service provider BT should block a website that flagrantly infringed copyright, called Newzbin. Although the Internet Watch Foundation is able to use a sped-up legal process, it currently can only do so for sites relating to illegal online pornography. Google, however, claims that takedown requests from reliable copyright holders are dealt with in four hours. The government moving its pressure from ISPs to search engines marks a new approach to its multi-faceted attack on digital piracy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/8759414/Google-should-join-fight-on-piracy-says-Jeremy-Hunt.html

They will fail.

Since the advent of modems running at 14.4k people have been sharing files, and it has grown year on year without fail every year. The mainstream media and the copyright monopoly have lost both the war and the argument. The movie studios still pull in hundreds of millions for their blockbusters, and so the much reported death of their industry has not materialised, as it never does whenever they whine that a new technology is going to wipe them out.

It is nothing short of absurd that Jeremy Hunt and his cohorts want to turn Britain into a leader of all things internets, but in the same breath, they do everything they can to cripple the companies that work with it. You cant have it both ways; either you want your East End Fantasy to take root or you do not. If you do, get out of the way, and let business flourish. If you do not, carry on as you are, making these ridiculous paid promotions for the copyright monopolists and watch everyone write you off as a potential place to locate.

In the past, anyone thinking about writing an innovative service, like a CD Ripping service, would have run a mile from the UK. Only now, as the CD is dying as a format will it become legal for a company like this to set up… or will it? Who knows? What is for sure is that if you plan on starting an internet business in the UK, you are taking a huge risk that Jeremy Hunt & Co. are going to suddenly, at the behest of your competitors, put you out of business either by directly legislating against you, or scaring investors away by giving a speech.

One thing is for certain; the tide is turning against Jeremy Hunt and all the glove puppets who sound suspiciously similar. What do I mean by that? Hmmmm, Which one is Jeremy Hunt, and which one is Andy Burnham? can you tell?:

Hunt or Burnham?:
“We must ensure that copyright delivers maximum benefit to performers and musicians. That’s the test of any model as we go forward”

Hunt or Burnham?:
“Let me be absolutely clear so there are no misconceptions about where the Government is on this. We share a real support for artists and musicians.”

Hunt or Burnham?:
“Music has been hit hard over the last ten years, and if we dont do something there is a real danger that parts of the music industry will be washed away.”

Hunt or Burnham?:
“Developments in communications have changed the music world and I think we are now at a time that calls for partnership between Government and the music business as a whole: one with rewards for both of us; one with rewards for society as a whole.”

Hunt or Burnham?:
“My job Governments job is to preserve the value in the system.”

Hunt or Burnham?:
“What do we need to do to help our businesses grow and evolve between now and 2025? Where can regulation help and where is it a barrier? What can we do collectively to enhance the whole UK market?”

Hunt or Burnham?:
“We have an extraordinarily strong and diverse media landscape in this country, combined with a remarkable wealth of talent in our creative industries.”

They are indistinguishable are they not?

Honestly, I dont care about what these people think; the only thing that matters is that they have the guns. As long as they have the monopoly on violence, they will be able to distort, destroy, corrupt and damage. If they did not have the monopoly on violence, Jeremy Hunt might be a school teacher somewhere, harmless, quiet and of no concern to anyone.

Thankfully, the market, the internet, and the people on it are more powerful than Jeremy Hunt. No matter what he says, no matter what he asks for, and no matter who he can bully into obeying his luddite wet dreams, the internet and the market will route around him and his disease and the spice will flow!

Precursors to Bitcoin legislation emerge

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

It is clear that the State is not going to quietly disappear into the night, and leave everyone to live as free men. Given that they still feel the need to preserve the illusion that they have the consent of the governed, we can expect any technology that threatens the State to come under legislative attack, after a carefully orchestrated series of media smears, hysterical news articles, straw man attacks and ‘real world’ examples of harm where Bitcoin is presented as an enabling factor.

Bitcoin has the potential to severely disrupt the ability of the State to steal money from people. Bitcoin is being built by developers who want to preserve the privacy and security of its users. If Bitcoin and systems like it become wildly popular, as popular as the internet itself, then this will mean that financial transactions will ‘go dark’ and the state will not be able to intercept, detect or steal money from citizens.

Email communications are routinely monitored by the state, both covertly and overtly. This eavesdropping could be stopped completely if the users of email encrypted their communications. The tools to do this are free and simple to use, and yet, mass adoption of encryption for email has not take off after over a decade of availability. Had encryption been built into email from its inception, privacy would have been the default for email.

The development of Bitcoin is being done with privacy in mind from the beginning. In order to make a Bitcoin transaction, a user must accept that her transactions have privacy features built in by default.

The mistakes and built in disadvantages and myriad security problems of email are not going to be repeated with Bitcoin, and if Bitcoin becomes as ubiquitous as email it will represent a significant step towards liberty for all people world-wide.

When the State is perturbed by new technological developments and sees them as a direct threat, they build a case for legislation either through a crisis, real or fabricated, or through an academic attack from its intellectual class.

The recently published paper, ‘Shadowy Figures: Tracking Illicit Financial Transactions in the Murky World of Digital Currencies, PeertoPeer Networks, and Mobile Device Payments’ by John Villasenor Cody Monk and Christopher Bronk is an example of an academic attack of this type:

http://www.bakerinstitute.org/publications/ITP-pub-FinancialTransactions-082911.pdf

The paper works from the premiss that the State has rights, that it has a right to control and steal from individuals, it has the sole right to define what money is and is not through its legal tender laws and that it also has the right to forbid people from transacting in anything other than the currency it issues.

In short, it works from a position that takes the State and its power as a given. It is an excrescence of members of the class of “opinion moulders” in society as described by Murray Rothbard; men who’s alliance with the State is based on a quid pro quo, where in return for spreading and reinforcing the idea among the masses that the State and its rulers are wise, good, sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable, with no conceivable alternatives, the State incorporates the intellectuals as part of the ruling elite, granting them power, status, prestige, and material security.

Lets begin with the executive summary:

Almost no one would argue that governments do not have a right to track and trace digital financial transactions associated with activities such as terrorism and human trafficking. It is less clear, however, how governments can surmount the formidable technical and organizational challenges associated with detecting and monitoring these transactions. The solution will require a combination of self-regulation, government-industry collaboration, and change in both technology and culture within government agencies.

Actually, there are many people who argue that not only does the state have no right to track and trace digital financial transactions, but that the state does not have any rights at all. Only man has rights. The State (under the American system of government) has powers that are delegated to it by the people through a carefully crafted Constitution, enumerating and limiting those powers.

Using the standard fear-mongering terms of terrorism and human trafficking in relation to this gives you a foretaste of what is to come in this shabby publication. The State uses terrorism as a pretext to surveil everyone’s transactions, en masse, not just those of terrorists, who are now defined as essentially anyone who breathes air. This is the only explanation for the millions of Americans who are listed on the State’s despicable ‘No Fly List’, whose explicit purpose is to prevent acts of terrorism.

This is also the pretext they are using as they are pulling off the pants of wheelchair bound 97 year olds at airports, looking for bombs in the diapers of infants and requiring banks to report on all transactions over arbitrary limits. No one who is in full possession of the facts of State surveillance under the guise of prevention of terrorism believes this line any more. These measures are solely and demonstrably designed for the control of the ordinary citizen.

Human trafficking is another straw man argument; anyone who is trafficking in human beings will quite sensibly be using cash to receive or make payments. This is the same bogus argument put forward when attempts were made to regulate cryptography in the 1990s; it was claimed that terrorists were using Steganograpy to hide messages in images. It was a completely false Hollywood movie plot of course, and the idea that human traffickers would take an electronic payment rather than large Euro notes or One Hundred Dollar bills is patently absurd. Once again, anyone who thinks even casually about this comes to the conclusion that these arguments for the legislation and control of digital money are weak at best.

This paper is littered with fallacious arguments:

While there is a wide spectrum of views regarding the right to digital privacy, almost no one disputes the notion that the right to digital financial privacy does not extend to providing an impenetrable legal shield for the online financial activities of terrorist groups, human traffickers, or drug cartels.

Once again, there are many people who argue that prohibition is immoral, and that the entire ‘War on Drugs’ is a fiasco and a disaster on every level.

To say, “almost no one disputes the notion that the right to digital financial privacy”, is a pure example of the appeal to belief fallacy. Just because many people believe something, you cannot infer that their beliefs are correct or that an act based upon them is justified.

The State is most certainly not justified in surveilling everyone’s transactions to intercept money and goods that do not involve crimes where there is a victim. The matter of prohibition is a perfect example of this.

Hawala and other informal value transfer systems long predate the advent of computers and the Internet, and, in more recent years, have been of concern to authorities because of their potential to be used for money laundering and terror financing

I will not address every instance of the straw man of terrorism or human trafficking in this publication.

Money laundering is a euphemism for transactions out of view of State surveillance. Any transaction that takes place outside of State control is essentially ‘Money Laundering’ according to the State. This means that, for example, people living in Greece, who are forbidden from making any transaction over 1500 in cash, even though the money is legitimately theirs and they are not engaging in any act that is defined as criminal activity by the State, is guilty of ‘Money Laundering’ by the mere fact that they are making a transaction above an arbitrary size.

What the authors of this paper are suggesting is that digital money systems, by virtue of their built in privacy mechanisms are de-facto money laundering systems because they deny the State the ability to surveil them. This is classic State reasoning, Kafkaesque and irrational, of the kind that is used to justify every predation and immoral piece of legislation that the State cares to write, from the laws prohibiting you from growing certain species of plant, to eminent domain, the innumerable different licenses, regulations and compulsions of all kinds and beyond.

tracing a specific suspect transaction that is intentionally buried in the noise can be like trying to find a pickpocket who just stole a wallet in a crowded market. The knowledge that the pickpocket is certainly among the hundreds of people within view is of little comfort if there is no practical ability to search every person in the market.

Its interesting that the authors use the analogy of a pickpocket when describing the act of a citizen making a transaction of their own money to another person over an anonymous network. It is the State of course, that is the pickpocket and thief, not the citizen minding her own business and transacting voluntarily and in private.

In l996, physician Douglas Johnson started spending his evenings writing software to create e-gold, a new digital currency that, though not issued by any government, would be fully backed by gold stored at various locations around the world. By 2001, there were nearly 300,000 e-gold customer accounts with an aggregate value of about $16 million.4

Anyone who does not believe that the State is building a case to come after Bitcoin is deceiving themselves. They are already using the one size fits all pretext of terrorism to shut down minters of physical coins like the Liberty Dollar and this case along with the case of e-gold should be of interest to people who use Bitcoin. E-gold had assets worth 16 million dollars, and:

“Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals, currently valued at nearly $7 million.”

Bitcoin is worth 10 times the amount NotHaus’s gold was worth, so I’m sure it is receiving 10 times the destructive attention from our glorious overlords.

[…]

Libertarian News

Bitcoin is bigger in dollar value than both e-gold and Liberty Dollar combined, and it is decentralised with no single company controlling it, unlike the e-gold and Liberty Dollar services. This academic paper is, I am quite sure, a direct result of this fact, and the fear that Bitcoin is sure to continue to grow in strength in every respect. This paper will be distributed widely among the State actors who will seek to understand Bitcoin within a framework of their own thinking and ideology.

You can expect that every trick in the book is going to be used to retard the growth of Bitcoin. You will see smears thrown at it that will include terrorism, human trafficking, and drug dealing (as we have already seen in this paper) but also expect child porn and paedophillia to be used to taint these systems. For those who are not persuaded by hysteria, the financial news networks are busy telling their viewers that Bitcoin is to be avoided at all costs. None of these attacks are logical or rational of course.

While e-gold was backed by actual gold, Bitcoin is fully virtual, backed only by the confidence of the people who use it for transactions. A governmental entity attempting to shut down Bitcoin servers in its territory would almost certainly find that even more servers would spring up, Hydra-like, in other parts of the world. As of July 23, 2011, there were approximately 6.9 million Bitcoins trading at a value of more than $13 per Bitcoin, corresponding to a total supply of over $90 million.11

And here we have another problem which this paper does not address; Bitcoin is not money. This will be the first counter argument tilted against any attack by the State against a high profile company that trades in Bitcoins. E-Gold and Liberty Dollars had one thing in common; they both traded in objects that are demonstrably money, and which are in fact, better money than the Federal Reserve Notes that are legal tender in the United States.

Bitcoin is different in that it is not money, but is a protocol, like TCP/IP. I predict that this will be a successful argument, because if it falls, then the financial regulators will be given the power to regulate the resale of any good or service for which a token or recipt is issued simply because money is exchanged for goods and services.

If the State was staffed by actors who were rational, they would not be attacking these services; they would immediately accept them all as payment for taxes. In this way, they would ensure that whatever happens and whatever systems come to pass, they will have a stake in them and a stream of revenue. By trying to stamp out digital currencies, refusing to accept them and trying to force people to use their worthless and inflating fiat currencies, they will end up being starved of cash as people switch from bad currencies issued by central banks to digital money transfer systems.

The potential Achilles heel of Bitcointhat each server in the network contains a complete record of all transactionswill almost certainly be addressed in future systems that distribute transaction information so that no single server or small collection of servers contains a complete transaction record. It is also possible to envision systems in which the transaction records are not only distributed, but evanescent, so that even the collective information stored on all the servers in the system at any given time would not enable a complete reconstruction of transaction history.

This is essentially what we have been saying; Bitcoin as a brand may or may not not succeed, but for certain if it does not, an improved successor in a following iteration is bound to be created. Solid Coin is one of the first challengers in this respect. They claim that their client software and network, which are a fork of the open source Bitcoin source code, is superior to Bitcoin and are not afraid to trumpet this claim.

For individuals using any digital system properly, the loss of a small working balance is not a deal breaker. When a digital money transfer network collapses and a new replacement network emerges, whatever fiat or non fiat currency you have to hand and wish to transmit can be sent through the new system. The companies that facilitate exchanges could be wiped out, but they will quickly be replaced by successors since some of the software suites used to run exchanges are open source software. This means that the digital money economy can survive multiple crashes no matter what the causes of those crashes are. The need for people to transact at a distance with very low fees is so great that it will never be possible to get rid of this idea, no matter what the inconvenience of a crash means in terms of short term losses.

It is statistically inevitable that some fraction of the more than 300 million transactions performed using M-PESA in 2010, and of the much larger number of transactions that will be performed in 2011 and future years, will not be legitimate. And some fraction of those, in turn, may involve payments that bear on American national security or law enforcement concerns.

The paper goes on to describe M-PESA and its spectacular growth, and then claim that a small fraction of the 300 million transactions performed in that system will be ‘of concern’ to American national security or law enforcement.

This is not the problem of anyone in the world other than the U.S. Government, and if Ron Paul becomes president, it will no longer be the concern of the U.S. Government.

We must remember when we read these words that the phrase ‘law enforcement concerns’ means prohibition and the bogus ‘war on terror’ both of which are entirely illegitimate. In absentia of these two rationale, there is no concern of any kind when we talk about what the un-banked are doing in the middle of what most Americans would consider to be “nowhere”. These are artificially created problems looking for solutions, and they should be rejected by all right thinking people on principle.

And, the 2008 financial crisis illustrated that the economic picture constructed by the organs of the U.S. government tasked with financial and commercial measurement, oversight, and regulation can have significant blind spots. These examples illustrate that the barriers to observing financial activity can be organizational as well as technological. Accordingly, successfully addressing the complexities of illicit financial transactions in cyberspace will require structural and technological steps taken by regulatory, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, as well as the private sector.

This is of course, completely ridiculous. The causes of the 2008 financial crisis were and are well understood by students of the Austrian School of Economics, and were predicted, repeatedly on television. There were no ‘blind spots’ save in the eyes of the Keynesians and the slavish apologists for the Federal Reserve. Note also, how apologists for the State use the prefix ‘cyber’ when they are talking about things on the Internet they do not like and ‘digital’ when they are describing things they perceive as beneficial.

The economic pictures constructed by organs of the U.S. Government are nothing more than fairy tales. Take for instance the way that unemployment is measured. It is a fact that the way the counting is done has been deliberately manipulated to massage the numbers downwards. The website Shadow Stats specialises in presenting honest data rather than the skewed numbers generated by political needs of the State.

To claim that digital currencies make calculation difficult for government is absurd. If calculation is so critical for the State, they should force the Federal Reserve to publish ‘M3’, the number that describes the money supply, and they would not use statistics to lie about the true state of the economy. All of this is, of course, separate from the fact that the State has no legitimate purpose in generating these numbers and using them to engineer society in the first place.

The private sector has no interest in crippling their products so that the state can gain back door access to them and their customer’s data. Burdening them with these proposals is anti-business, anti-progress and anti-liberty and is illegitimate.

In addition to fostering self-regulation within the various industry sectors involved in the movement of money, the U.S. government should establish an interagency government/industry working group or expand the charter of an existing group to focus specifically on emerging financial threats.

These measures will not work to ameliorate the artificial problem of ‘financial threats’. Since all of the software, both in terms of clients, servers and exchanges are open source, any attempt to poison a digital currency will immediately cause a fork. Solid Coin is a perfect example of this; they have forked Bitcoin in advance of any threat from the State, based solely on the casually spoken words of Gavin Andressen at the first Bitcoin conference.

Should any involvement by law enforcement actually be confirmed, or the Bitcoin source go closed, Solid Coin will gain tremendous momentum. Digital currency sees the State as damage and routes around it, to re-purpose a venerable phrase. Like a physicist trying to know the location and energy of a quantum particle at the same time, any attempt to touch these systems will be self defeating.

Another set of relatively low-tech but still useful solutions pertains to systems that can monitor the premises where MMT agents conduct business. Digital image and video recording is now routinely used in venues as diverse as banks, stores, and taxis. A properly designed system could aim to ensure that cash could only be accepted or disbursed when both the agent and the person providing or accepting the cash were on video.

And here we have an example of the mindset of the State, and in this case, the rancid anti-Americanism that is at the heart of many thinkers in the U.S.A. All people are presumed guilty. You have no right to privacy. Surveillance should be universal and pervasive. All financial transactions should be treated as suspicious by default.

Look at the list in this section; they even approve of surveillance in taxis as a method of eliminating financial privacy. This is as far away from the American dram as it is possible to get, and people do not want the sort of world that the authors of this paper envision as necessary. This is why Bitcoin, E-gold, the Liberty Dollar and systems like it are popping up all over the place. If the State was legitimate and a force for good, there would be no need for people to spend their time developing currencies whose central feature is to get your money out of the clutches of the State. In fact, this might go some way to explaining why email was developed without encryption built in (apart from the fact that it pre-dates modern fast processor and the Public Key Cryptography systems that were developed after the advent of email). In the 1960s people’s faith in government had not been shaken to its core. Nowadays of course, there is little faith in the State; it is widely and correctly understood to be a malevolent and destructive force for evil.

For the United States to ensure its national and financial security, the ability to understand the massive flow of digital information that is the global financial system today, from micro to macro, and from baht to Bitcoins, is of fundamental importance. Where once the numbered Swiss bank account, the wire transfer to a shell corporation, or, as in All the Presidents Men, a paper bag containing $25,000 in cash were primary means for covert financial activity, the Internet and mobile phone networks are the potential setting for a vastly expanded set of new, digital avenues for conducting hidden transactions.

Given the rate of change of the digital landscape, any set of solutions constructed based on a single snapshot in time will quickly become obsolete. However, by creating the collaborations, regulatory frameworks, and technologies that reflect todays more fluid and diverse financial transaction environment, government and industry will be better positioned to address illicit transactions today and to adapt to address those of the future.

The conclusion of this paper amounts to wishful thinking. The jig is up for the State in its present form. They are going to have to adapt radically and philosophically if they are going to remain as the arbiters of anything at all.

Part of this radical change will be to address what exactly is meant by, “the United States to ensure its national and financial security”. What exactly is the United States financial security? The U.S. is a nation of people; if their money is secure, i.e. not being inflated away by the Federal Reserve, and they can transact locally and at a distance for next to nothing, what is the problem?

The problem is that the authors are not talking about the people of United States and their financial security; they are talking about the State, the Federal Government, and its financial security. In plain English, they are referring only to the Federal Government’s ability to levy taxes and collect them.

Digital currencies and peer to peer transactions are a direct threat to the Federal Government and its ability to tax. This is the only threat that they are truly concerned with; all of the other threats they list here are statistically insignificant compared to the trillions of dollars that could potentially be lost to them in a peer to peer digital currency world.

The statistical probability of being affected by terrorism is less than many daily fatal occurrences, like death from bee stings or anaphylactic shock from adverse food reactions. I do not even need to quote car accident statistics or even lightning strikes, or alcohol, or pharmaceutical related deaths, all of which happen at greater frequencies than terrorism by orders of magnitude.

Terrorism is not a pretext for trying to stop the future from being summoned. As for human trafficking and crimes against children, as ghastly and reprehensible as these crimes are, they are, mercifully, exceedingly rare and should not be used to destroy the tools, systems and free society that entrepreneurs and the creative are building.

It is completely inhuman, illegitimate, immoral and unethical to attempt to suppress and destroy people’s rights. In the 21st century, we have the tools, the understanding and the will to build the systems that will forever repudiate the claims of the State that it was ever needed to make everything run smoothly. Digital currencies like Bitcoin are only one tool in this movement, the writings of Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul and the distribution systems that spread these ideas are the main ways that this revolution is taking place. No doubt, in private, the authors of this piece would call for the internet itself to be permanently and entirely shut down for the sake of ensuring the ‘security of the United States’. It is this irrational, un-American thinking that is behind the recent discovery that Justin Raimondo has been under F.B.I surveillance, simply because he writes articles.

It is a great tragedy that so many Americans have lost touch with the idea of what America was meant to be. Apart from that tragic loss, its interesting to note that this paper is concerned not with the plight of the poor in the ‘third world’ and the unbanked millions who have no access to capital. They are not concerned with the human suffering that could be lessened by the new technologies that are being developed. They are only concerned with themselves, and their own narrow parochial interests, that are borne out of a fundamental misunderstanding of the proper role of government and what people’s rights are.

Its up to every person who can think and write and run software to refute these fallacious arguments, to use the new systems at whatever level they can and to spread the ideas of liberty. We simply must not let these wrong headed statist arguments go unchallenged.

I have refrained from explicitly detailing the thinking behind the assertions I have made in this piece that claim or infer that we do not need the State, that the State is illegitimate on its face, and that it has no rights in and of itself. I will leave it to the reader to visit the Ludwig Von Mises Institute website for the background, evidence and proof that these are all facts. There are posts on this Blog that go into this in detail also. You cannot go far wrong by reading Lew Rockwell’s blog for a complete rundown of these ideas and links to many scholars and philosophers. If you want to understand the basics of all of this, you should buy and read Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty which is also available for free. To understand money and how the State has interfered in it to its near total destruction, you need to read What has government done to our money, also by Murray Rothbard.

With these tools in your hands you will be able to understand and prove to yourself that everything I have said in this piece is true, and why the paper that I have debunked is as wrong as something can be wrong.

It is incumbent upon you to demonstrate that you are not a part of the coercion and violence that the paper critiqued here espouses, and that you are willing to live with other human beings without them. If you are willing to co exist peacefully with your fellow man, then you should reject the basic premiss of this scandalous paper and its fallacious reasoning. If you do not, then you must concede that you are a violent person, that you approve of the coercion and violence of the State, and that the ends justifies the means.

Libertarians are willing and able to co exist with you. They are non violent; the very heart of their philosophy is that they can never initiate force against anyone. The measure and test of the ethical basis and morality of your philosophy should be wether or not you can co exist with others as the Libertarians can.

Many of you reading this will believe in democracy. You will use that word interchangeably with ‘fair’, ‘just’, ‘ethical’ and ‘good’. It is none of those things. I put it to you that your society cannot survive as it is without coercion and violence, and that it is doomed to failure because it is based on coercion and violence.

Hungarian translation of this article.

Guardian warmongering over Pakistan encryption ban

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

The Guardian helps to whip their idiotic readers into line in advance of regime change for Pakistan. All articles of the type that you read below are designed to discredit the governments, like them or not, of the target countries with lies, hypocritical attacks and pure propaganda.

France ‘banned encryption’ in the 1990s; Dominique Strauss-Khan ended the restrictions Where were all the howling articles about interception then?

Where are the howls today about the deliberately weakened A5 GSM encryption? Where are the howls from the Guardian about ECHELON? Where are the howls about RIPA, which forces you to reveal your passphrase? Where are all the howls about the German government’s attempts to break into Skype calls? Where are the howls about all the abuses going on from inside their precious ‘democracy’?

Before you attack Pakistan, get your own house in order. If you do not, then every foreign country in the world will point to you as an example of how to govern correctly. US/UK has full access to all land line phone calls, mobile calls, internet traffic that is not encrypted and a myriad of other ‘intelligence sources’ which actually means immoral privacy violations on a mass scale. They also have access to all of the communications taking place in Pakistan.

It is only natural that Pakistan, who is not invited to share in the data collected by the west from ‘their own citizens’ that they should take steps to get access themselves.

Lets do this!

Pakistan to ban encryption software
Internet service providers will be required to inform authorities if customers use virtual private networks in government crackdown

This is no different to the moves in the west to force ISPs to retain data and cut off users who are sharing files. Once the French (for example) figure out that VPNs can be used to share files and beat their ban, they will move to outlaw them also. You dont think that France could possibly ban VPNs? they already did something just as stupid, as you can see here.

Internet users in Pakistan will no longer be able to access the web through virtual private networks following the government ban.

Millions of internet users in Pakistan will be unable to send emails and messages without fear of government snooping after authorities banned the use of encryption software.

The same is already true of users in the US/UK. Millions of internet users cannot send email without fear of government snooping, so what is the problem with Pakistan doing the same thing? I wonder if these Guardian shills can explain why they think that its OK for US/UK to ‘snoop’ on communications but its NOT OK for Pakistan to do so. Of course, they would not call it ‘snooping’ in the US/UK, they call it ‘security’. It is base hypocrisy turned up to eleven.

A legal notice sent to all internet providers (ISPs) by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, seen by the Guardian, orders the ISPs to inform authorities if any of their customers are using virtual private networks (VPNs) to browse the web.

Seen by the Guardian, but not by you. Pics or it didn’t happen. There is absolutely no reason why the Guardian should not publish this document so that we can see if for ourselves. But of course, the Guardian is a paternalist newspaper that rather than let you make up your own mind, presents a sugar coated, fact free fait accompli for you to swallow whole. Wether its articles on economics, computer security or anything else, they do not present you with all the facts. But lets move on…

Virtual private networks allow internet users to connect to the web undetected, meaning that they can access banned websites and send emails without fear of government interception.

Pakistan’s 20 million internet users have previously been banned from popular social networks, such as Facebook, because of blasphemous material about the prophet Muhammad. All internet traffic in the country travels through the Pakistan Internet Exchange, which can be intercepted by the military and civil intelligence agencies. The move echoes a crackdown against encrypted communications across the border in India and in China.

And what is left out of this part is the fact that BBM is encrypted, and that back door access to it has been given to the State right here, the recent mass looting being the pretext. Lets also not forget that right here, it was seriously proposed that Twitter and Facebook be ‘shut down’ in an ’emergency’ by the state.

Why are these journalists whining about China, Pakistan and India, when the same nasty things are being done right here? Those countries are acting rationally and following the example of the UK.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority legal notice urged ISPs to report customers using “all such mechanisms including EVPNs [encrypted virtual private networks] which conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring”. Anyone needing to use this technology needs to apply for special permission, the notice said.

OUTRAGEOUS! Not.

Authorities in Islamabad insisted that the ban on VPN access was intended to stem communications by terrorists.

Terrorists do not use VPNs or GPG/PGP. Those of you who are up on this remember the bogus Steganography Threat that did the rounds years ago. Bad journalists at papers like the Guardian claimed that terrorists were hiding secret messages inside photos posted on the internet. There has never been a single instance of this found; it was just pure hype, just like this article is pure hype, and like the pretext Pakistan is using to ban VPNs because of ‘Terrorism’ is pure nonsense.

However, banks, call centres and many other businesses use encrypted connections to communicate with their branches and customers, to protect sensitive data such as account numbers and passwords.

Which is why the French ban in the 1990s didn’t make sense, and this doesn’t make sense either.

“This is like banning cars because suicide bombers use them,” said Shakir Husain, chief executive of Creative Chaos, a Karachi-based software company. “You have to find out who these guys [extremists] are. This is a blanket, knee-jerk, response.”

Mr Husain, you cannot possibly expect common sense out of these people. They exist in a parallel universe where logic, rational thought, morality, ethics and decency are poisons.

There is strict regulation of internet traffic in Pakistan.

LETS BOMB THEM! REGIME CHANGE! SPREAD DEMOCRACY!

Last year, the authorities banned the entire Facebook website for months after a user launched a contest to draw a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.

LETS BOMB THEM! REGIME CHANGE! SPREAD DEMOCRACY!

Accessing the internet on BlackBerry smartphones is problematic, because of the device’s high-security encryption software.

But its not a problem for the US/UK, because they have back door access, and journalists at the Guardian do not care about that; instead, they care about a country thousands of miles away, where no one reads their rag, where only the elites use the internet, and where they cannot have any influence whatsoever. No, this article is designed to make you feel good about living in the ‘free’ west, to pour scorn on Pakistan, and to loosen your resistance in advance of the day when the bombs start dropping on them.

Recently the regulator made it impossible for Pakistanis to access the website of Rolling Stone magazine, after it published an article on the high proportion of the national budget in Pakistan that goes on its military.

[…]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/30/pakistan-bans-encryption-software

In Britain, you can be arrested for possessing books. Pakistan banning Rolling Stone is no different in any way.

Britain has the highest level of google takedowns in the whole world. Blogs are amongst the most targeted. Of course, the Guardian has nothing to say about this whatsoever; all eyes on PAKISTAN!

This is warmongering, hypocrisy and nauseating, stinking garbage wrapped into one pice of filthy propaganda.

Anyone with an intact moral centre understands that the people in Pakistan have the right to live in whatever way they choose. It is not the place of anyone to point a finger at them and say that they are not living correctly; point your bony finger at your own State and its dirty dealings, immoral restrictions, privacy invasions, lies and mass murders and fix your own problems.

Lest we forget, people in Pakistan are not plagued by millions of CCTV cameras; you can walk all over the place there without being watched. Which country has the most CCTV cameras in the entire world, violating millions of people on a daily basis?

It seems today, that it is impossible to read any article in a newspaper that tells the truth.

It doesn’t matter any more.

No one is getting their news from the war machine and its paid shill monsters. Take a look at this:

Look at the seething, roiling anger in the face of the murder machine apologist, face contorting like a cornered rat. These people know that the jig is up, no one trusts them anymore, no one is listening to them; all they have are straw men, ad hominems and syrupy appeals to emotion.

This is why we have the absurd stories of viagra fuelled rape squads and all the other completely bat-shit insane lies paraded by the lie machines. These stories, the manufactured propaganda smears are as sick as the people who repeat them. They need to go this far, because they have been caught lying so many times with the more reasonable sounding stories that only completely crazy scenarios will work to grasp anyone’s attention.

Sadly for them, thanks to the internet, these lies do not last more than a few days before they are completely debunked. They are running out of tools (plausible and implausible lies) that they can sell. This is why they are so angry; there is no higher volume to turn their lies to past eleven on the dial, and it is why, as you can see in the video above, they are so angry at Russia Today, who are playing better chess than them.

Russia Today is outflanking all other news media by telling the truth using the mouths of people who have the truth in them.

They get on a wide variety of completely credible people to tell you the whole truth, and who, when you research what you have been told, can be verified every time as telling the whole truth.

Contrast this with what The Times, the BBC and The Guardian peddle, and you begin to understand why Russia Today has all the respect, attention and the traffic, and why the US/UK mainstream media is losing money, credibility and attention.

Thinking correctly about Bitcoin

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

An essential feature of the standard attack against Bitcoin is to point to the price charts generated by a single Bitcoin exchange and then use that as definitive proof of Bitcoin’s unsuitability for any purpose.

The attack uses these single source charts to ‘prove’ that Bitcoin is a mania, like the Dutch Tulip mania or Bollengekte of 1637, or that Bitcoin is ‘insecure’ or any other fundamental flaw, technical, financial, philosophical or psychological you care to mention.

Let us be perfectly clear; these Bitcoin detractors are ignorant of what Bitcoin is. They are near horizon thinkers, dullards, luddites, and the sweetest irony of it all is they are peddling their flawed ideas on a medium that directly disproves their theories.

I have already debunked and quashed many of the fallacies that are routinely trotted out whenever Bitcoin is discussed by the ignorant on our blog; now I want to clear up a different fundamental mistake that all the current detractors of Bitcoin are routinely making, which is perfectly exemplified by the recent MarketWatch video item, which unintelligently parrots all the anti-Bitcoin nonsense as if it were being read from a centrally provided script or press release.

The fundamental mistake these ignorant people are making is this; Bitcoin is not an investment, it is a container and payment method.

When you think about Bitcoin in these terms, it becomes instantly clear that Bitcoin itself should not be treated like stocks or commodities. If you think of Bitcoin as only a container you use to shuttle payments to people for things on and off-line, you immediately understand that looking at stock market style charts of its value from a single exchange as a way of gauging its future potential is completely ridiculous.

Bitcoin’s potential lies in its power to facilitate peer to peer purchases; it is not a commodity or a stock or a company, it is a method, a container, a protocol that people use to make purchases between themselves.

Think about it this way; if, in 1997 you were told about a thing called ‘the Internet’, that would replace sending letters, utility bills and postcards through the mail to people all over the world at no cost, via a system that would not be run by any central authority and which was sure to utterly change the world and make people millions of dollars, you would be interested in it as an investment.

Someone could (having fundamentally misunderstood what the Internet actually is) buy many domain names and then issue certificates against them, put these certificates into an exchange, and then start to sell them to investors. Charts would have been generated, and as a land rush began as the potential of the Internet became apparent to everybody, you would have seen a massive spike in the quoted prices of domain name certificates.

Unique names like ‘sex.com’ could have been bought into by syndicates, who issued shares in it so that the cost of investing in ‘rare’ domain names could be spread out. You could buy shares in that domain name syndicate, and see their value rocket up.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Domain names are nothing more than a method to instruct client programmes on computers to connect to a numeric address that refers to a server computer on the internet. They have no value in and of themselves; the value in a domain name rests solely in the work that programmers put into expressing the ideas of entrepreneurs who run the websites the domain points to.

A three letter domain name like ‘sex.com’ is no guarantee of success on the web in and of itself; the same is true of Bitcoin. No one would have paid a billion dollars for the domain name ‘google.com’ before Google put millions of man hours and genius into their software, for example.

If you want to ‘invest in the Internet’, you need to invest in a company that uses the internet to provide value to people. You cannot invest directly in the Internet, which is nothing more than a series of protocols defining containers for information that have been agreed upon by individuals. When you think about Bitcoin in these terms, you start to understand why all these foolish pundits sound so ridiculous. They literally have no idea what they are talking about.

Bitcoin is a way to convey value from one person to another without a third party. Email is to postal services as Bitcoin is to money. It has no monetary value in and of itself; it has a very high utility, not intrinsic value. This is why looking at a single chart from MTGox and inferring anything about Bitcoin in general, or its future, or its utility and true nature is completely absurd. This is why attempting to apply Austrian monetary theory to Bitcoin is a fool’s errand. Bitcoin is not money, any more than a leather wallet is money or an email is a letter written on your personal stationary; you would not define a wallet as money, or a domain name as money or a piece of paper with ink on it simply because someone buys and sells them as goods.

The real issue is not whether Bitcoin will ever be so widely adopted that it, “acts like a real, stable currency”. The only issue is wether or not it is widely adopted, and when the disruptive effects it will have on the current crop of online payment systems that are in thrall to the State, begin to emerge.

And Bitcoin is a very very disruptive technology.

Think about Bitcoin in comparison to PayPal. PayPal is essentially a centralized brick-less bank, that keeps a ledger of user’s accounts and transfers, and which charges per transaction fees. It strictly controls how much of your own money you can withdraw from them to your own bank account, how much of your own money you can spend at any one time, and PayPal are notorious for their freezing of user’s accounts, service problems and lust for compliance with the regulations of the State. For example, users of PayPal unfortunate enough to live under the yoke of the government of India have recently been informed that they will not be allowed to receive payments that exceed $500 per transaction and that they will not be able to keep any of their money in their PayPal accounts longer than one week; all money received into PayPal must be transferred to their Indian bank account within 7 days.

I will take for granted your outrage at these anti-human and arbitrary restrictions.

Now consider Bitcoin. Bitcoin turns every user into an operator of their own fully functional, trans continental, free of State control PayPal service. They can accept money and then transfer Bitcoins from their computer to anywhere in the world instantly, without interference from anyone. They can accept Bitcoins on their computer in exchange for goods or services in a similar manner. The key insight that mainstream thinking people are missing is that Bitcoin can be exchanged for anything, not just money. Its accounts are essentially disposable and not tied to you permanently. You do not have to identify yourself to any third party in order to use it. If you adopt Bitcoin you are at liberty to use it in any way you like, with as much of your money as you like.

When you think about Bitcoin correctly, you can begin to see that its potential is as big as the advent of the internet itself, since money is half of all transactions. In the same way that email disrupted the postal service, Bitcoin will disrupt the making and receiving of payments. If you want to send a post card, you do not have to use a postman or government mail. You simply send an email. From your mobile phone. This is taken for granted, now, but it represents a tectonic shift in the way people communicate.

Think about how the internet and Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft’s Perceptual Audio Coding software (that powers the MP3 file format) has changed the way music is distributed and consumed. No more buying Cassettes, Vinyl records and CDs in stores; no more middle men between the musicians and the music lovers. This is what Bitcoin is going to do in the realm of money transfer. And of course, the circle will be completed when music lovers pay tributes to their favourite musicians with Bitcoins.

Very small payments will now become possible and plentiful…anyone can develop their own money transfer and content monetizing service on top of Bitcoin without having to interface with one of the main payment processing companies. This represents a massive shift and unprecedented opportunity on a global scale. There are so many possible uses of Bitcoin you could spend all day imagining its potential uses, and you might still completely miss its killer application.

None of the people trying to pour cold water on Bitcoin ever mention Namecoin, which is a DNS alternative based on Bitcoin. This is probably because they are ignorant of what Bitcoin actually is, and are simply regurgitating what others have written and said about Bitcoin, rather than doing their own thinking about it. DNS, as I say above, is the system of marrying words with the numeric addresses of computers on the internet. It is how people connect to sites on the net with their browsers, allowing them to type in a name instead of a number. The DNS system is being attacked by the State as a way of taking publishers off-line. Google “ICE domain seizures” to find out what I am talking about. Namecoin has the potential to decentralise the DNS system, making it impossible for the State to seize domain names and attack publishers.

This is only one possible future use of Bitcoin, and as we have seen with the appalling totalitarian police state scandals surrounding government sabotage and poisoning of the centralised DNS system, Namecoin could remove the power of the State to control this critical part of the Internet infrastructure.

The potential of Bitcoin is obvious to those that are intelligent, that understand computers and software, who have some knowledge of the present state of and recent history of the internet and the problems of money transfer online. Anyone who knows what this really means is awestruck, gobsmacked at how everything is about to fundamentally change.

To conclude, whenever you hear anyone attack Bitcoin, your first response should be to be skeptical of the intelligence and depth of understanding of the attacker. They will cite any or all of the following to try and dissuade you from adopting Bitcoin:

  • Bitcoin has no backing
  • The exchange rate is volatile (with obligatory MTGox chart)
  • Bitcoin is a Speculative Bubble
  • Bitcoin is used for buying drugs
  • Bitcoin is run by amateurs ‘The MyBitcoin Fiasco’
  • Bitcoin is only for techies, not for the average person

All of these reasons for avoiding Bitcoin are straw men, trotted out by the unintelligent who cannot think for themselves, have weak powers of insight, are very probably computer illiterate, or who are philosophically predisposed to disliking Bitcoin because they have mistaken it for money due to other people having claimed that it is money.

The first and last straw men are particularly galling. The dollar is backed by nothing, and these same people insist that it is money simply because other people accept it as money, but by magic, this logic cannot simultaneously apply to Bitcoin. The Internet was once ‘only for techies’ and now everyone uses it, and the people who do not are the exception, the ‘disadvantaged’ who must be helped to get onto it. If it were not so tragic, you would think these pretexts for rejecting Bitcoin were funny.

I predict that the same will be true of the mass adoption of Bitcoin as it was for the mass adoption of the Internet. In the very near future, the people who do not use Bitcoin for sending and receiving payments will be the exceptions, and the disadvantaged.

I will leave it to you to extrapolate from that, what the true value of Bitcoin is.

The Internet is starving the streets

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Whilst roving around a major city in the UK, I was overwhelmed by the filth, the poverty, the distorted faces, the ground-in misery, the decay and the hopelessness in evidence whichever way you cared to look.

Contrast this with the shining, enthusiastic, clean, efficient, free, beautiful, soaked with hope and promise Internet, where everything is possible, if you can write software or operate a mouse.

Buying things in the streets is a disgusting experience. Not only are people ugly and rude, but the streets themselves are incredibly filthy, with layers of ground in grime from the feet and garbage of millions of people who leave every type of food and waste behind them like upright slugs trailing dirty slime behind them.

You may be lucky enough to need something from a shop that is clean and neat, and it may even have staff that can speak in a polite manner. When you enter, if you are really lucky, it could even have air conditioning. Even if that is the case, after you have done your business, for which you are robbed of an extra 20% on top of the price you pay for no good reason, you have to return to the pig-filthy streets to get anywhere, and you had to arrive by those same foul streets to get there in the first place, and when you leave, you are burdened with packages.

Contrast this with shopping on the Internet. You click through some beautifully laid out pages, compare and contrast prices from different ‘stores’, read the voluntarily donated opinions of other decent, literate people who are honest and who have your best interests at heart, and then, when you make your decision, you click a button to find that the next day your shoes arrive.

Even then, if you do not like your new shoes, you can return them and get your money back, no questions asked.

The online world is much better than the ‘real world’. It is travelling without moving. It is connecting without effort. It presents a face to you that goes out of its way not to offend you. It is intelligent, cultured, educated, funny, humble, gentle, easy to get on with, inoffensive, useful and entirely beneficial.

What happens when you try and connect these two worlds, to try and bring the benefits of the online world to the ‘real world’? Read the rest of this entry »

Nobody Asked For A Violent State

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I live in Stockholm, Sweden. A hundred years ago, one of the largest employers in the city was the State. Their business was as straightforward as it was necessary: help keep keep people safe, provide schools, a social safety net, maintain an army, provide universal healthcare, and prevent parents from educating their children at home.

They would cut up large blocks of the land of Sweden, parcel them out into districts, and then number every person in those districts through a universal State issued ID Card. People would rely on the State for almost everything, even to make sure their food was safe.

When households in Sweden were freed from the State early in the first half of the twenty first century, the State was made obsolete. After all, what the state did was keep people safe and provide services, and everybody could suddenly do that themselves.

This was a fairly rapid process in the cities. With the availability of guns and private security from circa 2020, most households subscribed to their own private security firm by the end of the 2030s. One of the citys largest employers the State had been made totally obsolete by ideological and moral development.

There were many personal tragedies in this era as the Statesmen lost their breadwinning capacity and needed to retrain to get new, non violent jobs in a completely new field; the free market. The profession of Statesman had been leisurely and privileged, and seeing your industry disintegrate in real-time wasn’t easy.

But here are a few things that didnt happen as the State industry became obsolete:

No private security firm owner was sued for making their own security and ignoring the existing State security services.

No laws were proposed that would make private schools liable in court if the education they provided was superior to that destroyed public teachers jobs.

Nobody demanded a monthly property tax from the house owners that would go to the State employees Union.

No lavishly expensive expert panels were held in total consensus about how necessary the State and its ‘public sector’ was for the entire economy.

Rather, the State monopoly became obsolete, was ignored, and the economy as a whole benefited by the resulting decentralisation.

Were about to see a repeat of this scenario, and right now the State the violent industry has the audacity to stand up and demand special laws and say that the economy will collapse without their unnecessary services. But we learn from history, every time, that it is good when an practice becomes obsolete. That means we have learned something important to do things in a more efficient, moral way. New skills and trades always appear in its wake.

The State tells us, again and again and again, that if they cant have their monopoly enshrined into stone with ever-increasing penalties for ignoring it, that no security will be produced at all. As we have seen, equally time and again, this is hogwash.

What is absolutely true is that the State cant produce anything efficiently. But you cant instigate monopoly legislation based on your selfish needs, when others are doing the same thing for much less and without coercion. There has never been as much opportunity available as now, thanks in part to the Internet, just because all of us love to help each other. Its not something we do because of money, its because of who we are. We have always volunteered.

What about schools, then? There are examples of home educated people (and many have beat State educated pupils into the best universities and high paying jobs). But it may be true that the argument for home education is somewhat stronger with the nuclear family structure.

Im going go out on a limb here and say, that even if it is true that home education cant be done the same way with the Internet and our civil liberties both in existence, then maybe its just the natural progression of education.

I spend quite a bit of time with teenagers through my work with the Pirate Party. One thing that strikes me is that they dont much obey the State’s laws, at least nowhere near the way I did when I was a teenager. Just like I threw out my mental shackles 15 years ago, maybe this is just the natural progression of culture. Nobody would be surprised if we moved from violent State provided services to a voluntary natural society and true free market culture at this point in history.

After all, we have previously had all the services the State now provides as the high points of culture in the past, without the State. Even radio theaters (and famous ones). Nobody is particularly concerned that those expressions have had their origins in a near State free society and that society has moved on to a new culture of true Liberty. There is no inherent value in a culture of coercion and violence and preventing the changes weve always needed.

Everywhere I look, I see that the State needs to be cut down to allow society to move on from todays violent stranglehold on culture, peace and knowledge. Teenagers today typically dont even see the problem of a natural society they take voluntarism and Liberty in the connected world so totally for granted, that they discard any signals to the contrary as Statist nonsense.

And they certainly dont ask for ‘free’ handouts from the State.

http://torrentfreak.com/nobody-asked-for-a-refrigerator-fee-110821/