Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rick Perry: ‘Gravity Is Only A Theory’

August 21st, 2011 · Pat Landers

PORTSMOUTH, NJ—Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry clarified his position on gravity at a campaign stop today, and simultaneously expressed his distrust of the scientific community. “We cannot blindly trust that gravity will remain constant,” said Perry, “when our best understanding of it is just a theory.” He called on Congress to pass a gravity independence act mandating structural reinforcements enabling existing and future landmarks to withstand possible surges in gravity up to six times its normal intensity, in addition to bedrock tethers to prevent landmarks from escaping into orbit during a total loss of gravity. Perry also pushed for a Great Lakes emergency containment system in order to, “protect the bounty and splendor of America’s principal shipping waterways from the unknowable moods of gravity.” Perry added, “It is shameful that due to partisan politics, the current administration has continued to treat gravity as a fact, gambling our shared history as Americans on what is nothing more than science’s best guess.” Hewing to his record as a fiscal conservative, Perry assured those gathered that the entire cost of gravity independence could be defrayed by further budget cuts in education.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Climate Change Act Reconsidered

A public meeting held in the UK House of Commons on the 30th of November 2011

Solid facts presented by four witnesses with impeccable credentials.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dialogue Management Program released

Get rid of frustrations and overcome speech anxiety with Dialog4. Experience superior task performance, enjoy meetings more, and reach more favorable decisions. Dialog4 evaluates all peoples’ requests in order to get you a turn at the right time. Avoid wasted time and domination of meetings by people who have nothing important to say or who intimidate others by cutting people off.

An equal-time resolution algorithm ensures that no one can dominate the discussion. It can be set to cut off a speaker after a certain time and give the next turn to the person waiting, who has spoken the least thus far. Dialog4 can ensure that no one even knows that you wanted to speak, if you are trying to take a turn at the wrong time. Thus, the transition from speaker to speaker is protected, since the responsibility for either cutting off an over-time speaker or rejecting a pending request is shared by the group. This is true because the Group has agreed to use the program to select among conflicting requests and the number of persons waiting is never revealed. 




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Guidelines for Mailing Lists


Consider the cost to readers of any post. If even an obviously inappropriate message is distributed, one that just takes readers a few seconds to scan and then skip, the total time used is still large. With 350 readers, a post that takes an average of 3 seconds for each reader to deal with means a total of 17.5 minutes is used (350 readers x 3 seconds / mail = 1,050 seconds / 60 =17.5 min.). This is probably the minimum time expenditure on any message that is even selected for scanning. So, on a list with 350 subscribers, if you spend 17 minutes preparing a message, there will be a balance between your time investment and that used by readers, even if they only scan your message and make no response.


Disregarding these guidelines or a lack of self discipline in following them will result in defensive attention management. That is, certain authors will not be read at all by many readers. Most mail programs allow a rule to be set which then automatically directs all mail from a given address to the trash. (This is normally not available in the List Digest Mode.) This has the unfortunate effect of fractionating the joint awareness that permits the readership to function as a group.


Do not broadcast requests for information you can obtain from a known source. Requests such as, "What are the contents of book Foo published by Bar" are not appropriate. This information can normally be obtained by typing the title or some keywords into Google or some other search engine. An alternative is to search the previous messages for a key word or phrase. This can often be done from a List's web interface.




B. When replying to a message:


1. Do not change the subject line (unless you are changing the subject). Such changes make it harder for some mail readers to follow the threads in a discussion. If you are changing the subject, consider using the "was" construction:
New Subject (was: Old Subject)


2. Include enough of the original message to provide a context. Remember that electronic mail is not as immediate as a telephone conversation and the recipient may not recall the contents of the original message, especially if he or she receives many messages each day. Including the relevant section from the original message helps the recipient to recall the context of the discussion.


3. Include only the minimum you need from the original message. Quote only the smallest amount you need to make your context clear.


4. Use some kind of visual indication to distinguish between text quoted from the original message and your new text - this makes the reply much easier to follow. ">" is a traditional marker for quoted text, but you can use anything provided its purpose is clear and you use it consistently.


5. Never post a "me too" message or one that says you "agree" or "disagree" with the original post. Use e-mail to the poster for this type of response. Posts should contain information of interest to all readers, not just the original author.


6. Do not post responses to posts you feel are inappropriate or abusive. If you feel that the author is saying something worth reading, but in an inappropriate way, respond to the poster. Tell the author what you think is incorrect about the post. If possible, suggest how to accomplish the objective in an appropriate way. If you have responded to a person a few times without the desired effect, and you feel that the group as a whole could benefit from a solution to the problem, only then should you post. The nature of your message should be a suggestion, if possible, of how such problems can be avoided in the future.


7. Do not type your message in all-uppercase - it is extremely difficult to read (although a short stretch of uppercase may serve to emphasize a point heavily). Uppercase indicates shouting in email messages.


8. Use correct grammar and spelling. Electronic mail is all about communication - poorly-worded and misspelled messages are hard to read and potentially confusing.


9. Do not reply to a previous message by manually entering the address of the List and then adding a subject line. This will not include often hidden headers that many mail reading programs use to thread a discussion. Therefore, your reply will become detached from the ongoing discussion, instead of appearing in the thread. This can result in readers incorrectly skipping your reply, because it appears to be a new topic. 




C. If you start a new topic:


1. Do not reply to a previous message to get the address of the List and then change the subject line. This will include often hidden headers that many mail reading programs use to thread a discussion. Therefore, your new topic will become attached to the middle or end of an ongoing discussion, instead of appearing as a new thread. This can result in readers incorrectly skipping your new topic, because it appears as a continuation of one they are no longer interested in following. You can copy the address of the List into the "To" field of a new message.


2. Always use your Subject line to state the topic of your message as completely as possible. Statements should always end with periods, questions with question marks (typically), and high energy, high impact declarations with exclamation points.




D. User names:


1. Each email address should have one and only one user. If a post is a joint product, indicate this at the beginning and end. Some mail reading programs allow certain names to be automatically selected. Help the reader by using the same name at all times. This will improve the chances that people will read your posts.


2. A "Personal name" is an arbitrary string that many mailers will allow you to define, which is attached to your e-mail address as a textual comment. Always provide a personal name, if your mail system allows it - a personal name attached to your address identifies you better than your address can on its own.


3. Use a sensible personal name: "Guess who" or other such phrases are annoying as personal names and hinder the recipient's quick recognition of you and your message.




E. Uniform Resource Locator (URL) formats:


When putting e-mail and web addresses inline into a sentence (or, in fact, anytime), you might wish to enclose them in angle brackets "<>", especially to avoid problems where they might absorb surrounding punctuation into becoming underlined and clickable, such as at the end of a sentence. Angle brackets are also useful for long URLs that break across lines.




F. Yahoo Terms of Service are generally applicable:


1. Do not post content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable


2. Do not impersonate any person or entity or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity


3. Do not forge headers or otherwise manipulate identifiers in order to disguise the origin of any content transmitted through the Yahoo! Service


4. Do not post content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships


5. Do not post unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation


6. Do not post any material that contains software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment


7. Do not violate any applicable local, state, national or international law


8. Do not "stalk" or otherwise harass another




G. Sources:


Click title of this article for Comp.groupware FAQ Guidelines


http://www.ucalgary.ca/it/help/articles/email/etiquette


http://www.penmachine.com/techie/emailtrouble_2003-07.html


http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

Saturday, October 8, 2011

False bad news about population growth, natural resources, and the environment



Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature













Be not a cancer on the earth -
Leave room for nature -
Leave room for nature
(Christian, 1981)



"Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature" and "Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature" are the first and last of ten inscriptions on The Georgia Guidestones (R) (Bridges, 1981). The construction cost of the over one hundred thousand kilogram (100 metric ton) granite structure (Bridges, 1981) has never been released, but its value has been estimated at about half a million -2009- dollars (Smith, 2009).

The sponsor(s) of the construction of The Georgia Guidestones (R), also known as the American Stonehedge, have not been disclosed. The person who contracted with the Elberton Granite Finishing Company to build the structure used the pseudonym Robert C. Christian (Bridges, 1981).

"The sponsors behind the The Georgia Guidestones (R) explained their reasons for the monument" (Bridges, 1981):

There are alternatives to Armageddon. But they will not happen without coordinated efforts by millions of dedicated people in all nations of the Earth.…
The monument has been named The Georgia Guidestones (R). It consists of four large upright blocks of granite, each measuring two meters wide and five meters high. They mark the extreme positon of the rising and setting of the sun in its cycle of 18.6 years. They surround a central stone which is oriented north and south. This stone contains ports aligned with the celestial pole and with the paths of the sun and moon as they cross the horizon. The central stone also marks the passing of the sun at noontime throughout the year. (Christian, 1981)

Robert C. Christian elaborated upon the precepts on the monument in a book. Smith (2010) comments:

Christian left behind a 1986 book, "Common Sense Renewed," that is still for sale at the Elberton Granite Museum. Many of the concerns he lists in it wouldn't be out of place at a modern Republican gathering: growing entitlement spending, stifling regulation, the breakdown of the traditional family.

But he also warned that the world's problems were symptoms of overpopulation, turning civilization as we knew into an "atomic tinderbox," and requiring some limited form of world government to save mankind from annihilation, he concluded.

Smith (2009) claims that the book calls for severe restrictions upon reproduction, since it states that "Reproduction is no longer explicitly a personal matter." He also claims that selective breeding would be imposed, since the book states, "Humanity has successfully applied practical genetic principles in developing domesticated plants and animals. It is now within our power to begin the domestication of our own species in a parallel fashion."

Smith (2009) concludes: "While circumstantial, the evidence is so persuasive that we believe that Robert Edward “Ted” Turner III played the role of Robert C. Christian in the Georgia Guidestones creation story." He also notes that Turner made a $1 billion donation to the United Nations. However, this was actually a pledge related to his founding of the United Nations Foundation in 1998. One of the Foundations first grants was almost $12.2 million to the United Nations Population Fund (DiscoverTheNetworks.org, Undated B).

From DiscoverTheNetworks.org (Undated A):

To “protect” the environment and limit population growth, Turner advocates a “one child per family” policy.

Turner also has promoted nuclear disarmament through Ted Turner Documentaries, whose eight-hour television series about weapons of mass destruction, Avoiding Armageddon, aired on PBS stations in April 2003 and was hosted by Walter Cronkite.

Also in 2006, Turner signed a statement that accompanied the documentary film The Great Warming, which maintained that not only did global warming pose a threat to the future of life on earth, but also that it was largely a result of human industrial activity.

In April 2008, Turner made the unsubstantiated claim that within a few decades, most of humanity would be extinct as a result of global warming.

Outspoken about his leftwing political views, Turner candidly calls himself “a socialist at heart.”

A recent interview:

Charlie Rose. (2008). A conversation with Ted Turner.

While the precepts inscribed on The Georgia Guidestones (R) have generated much discussion among conspiracy theorists about secret plans to decimate the World's population, a simpler explanation is that they were simply a reaction to the threats that dominated public thinking of the period. The 1980s began as a period of heightened tension in the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. There was discussion within the Reagan Administration of "winning" a nuclear war against the the USSR. The leadership of both the European allies of the USA and of the USSR regarded such views as dangerous, if not insane. The enormous increases in military spending by the USA, including the development of a "missile shield" to intercept Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were seen as a move toward a first-strike capability.

The Encyclopedia of the New American Nation (Undated) notes:
Reagan … deliberately strove to upset the balance of terror by focusing on defense rather than deterrence. The shift had important ramifications for the Cold War. Reagan reauthorized the development of the B-1 bomber and the next generation of highly accurate and MIRV [Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle]-equipped Peacekeeper missiles....

Reagan's supporters included a religious right faction which viewed a nuclear war as necessary to bring Biblical prophesy to fulfillment, thereby ushering in the "End Times" and the return of Jesus Christ. The combination of changes in the nuclear force posture and the dominant ideology, of public statements by Reagan about the "Evil Empire", and of threatening military maneuvers in Europe created a real fear that a full scale nuclear exchange was imminent, both in the USA and USSR. In fact, at one point the Soviet Leadership was convinced that an attack was imminent. Assurances from their operatives in London that everything was normal at the Ministry of Defense were necessary to calm them. So, The Georgia Guidestones (R) could well have been intended as a message to the survivors of a full-scale nuclear exchange.

Another major concern of the period was overpopulation. It was popularized by the mass media and books, such as the Population Bomb, a best-selling book written by Paul R. Ehrlich in 1968. Julian Simon rejected this view in The Ultimate Resource (Princeton University Press, 1981), arguing that the most valuable resource of all was people. In an article in Science, he stated (Regis, 1997):

"False bad news about population growth, natural resources, and the environment is published widely in the face of contrary evidence. For example, the world supply of arable land has actually been increasing, the scarcity of natural resources including food and energy has been decreasing, and basic measures of U.S. environmental quality show positive trends. The aggregate data show no long-run negative effect of population growth upon standard of living. Models that embody forces omitted in the past, especially the influence of population size upon productivity increase, suggest a long-run positive effect of additional people."

In the pages of Social Science Quarterly, … Simon challenged Ehrlich to put his money where his mouth was.... Ehrlich and his colleagues picked five metals that they thought would undergo big price rises: chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten.…

Between 1980 and 1990, the world's population grew by more than 800 million, the largest increase in one decade in all of history. But by September 1990, without a single exception, the price of each of Ehrlich's selected metals had fallen, and in some cases had dropped through the floor.…

Which is how it came to pass that in October 1990, Paul Ehrlich mailed Julian Simon a check for $576.07.


It seems clear that Turner's knowledge of the Earth's population limits was not drawn from the scientific literature, since even with the technology of the 1970s the Planet could support a population of 60 billion people (Revelle, 1976).


References:




Bridges, B. (Ed.), The Georgia Guidestone Guidebook (pp. 17-21). Elberton, GA: Elberton Granite Finishing Co., Inc. (URL , Downloaded October 8, 2011)

Christian, R. C. (1981). The purpose.… In Bridges, B. (Ed.), The Georgia Guidestone Guidebook (pp. 17-21). Elberton, GA: Elberton Granite Finishing Co., Inc. (URL )

DiscoverTheNetworks.org. (Undated A). Ted Turner. (URL , Downloaded May 26, 2010)

DiscoverTheNetworks.org. (Undated B). United Nations Foundation. (URL , May 26, 2010)

Encyclopedia of the New American Nation. (Undated). Deterrence - Mutual assured destruction (mad). (URL )

Regis, E. (1997, February). "The Doomslayer". Wired (Issue 5.02). Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. (URL , Downloaded May 27, 2010)

Revelle, R. The Resources Available for Agriculture. Sci. Amer. 235(3) Sept 76, p 165-178.

Charlie Rose. (2008, April 1). A conversation with Ted Turner. (URL , Downloaded May 26, 2010)

Smith, V. (2009, Dec. 28). Decoding the Georgia Guidestones. Van's Hardware Journal. (URL , Downloaded May 22, 2010)

Smith, M. (2010). Waiting for the end of the world: Georgia's 30-year stone mystery. CNN International. (URL , Downloaded May 23, 2010)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Human Biopreservation Institute launches social networking site

(This beta test has been suspended. Persons wishing to participate should contact the Secretary, the author of this Blog.)


The social networking site Human Biopreservation is now accepting users. The Site facilitates mutual support among cryonauts in case of a life threatening emergency. The smartphone application Vital Signs connects to the Site in order to provide real-time alerts. The Human Biopreservation Institute will accept 150 users for beta testing at this time.


The Site is unmoderated. However, you can permanently block information from any User. You will see more information from someone you indicate is a "friend" than from others, if you restrict access. Privacy controls allow you to accept or reject different types of information. You can also approve comments on your blog, profile, photos, or videos


Since emergency response requires real-world data, Users must provide access to their contact information. Provided information can be made visible to Users or only to Administrators. Different information can be provided in the public and private data entry fields. For example, a business telephone number could be provided in a publicly visible field and a home telephone number could be provided in a private field visible only to Administrators. You can also restrict access to your public information just to your friends. So, you have almost complete control over distribution of your information, since you can restrict sharing to any degree.


Users must have finalized their arrangements for biopreservation or be willing to assist in an emergency. Assistance could be as simple as noticing that an alert has been transmitted to the Site and then attempting to call the alerting telephone in order to determine whether the alert was a false alarm.


Testing of real-time support requires an Android cellphone with accelerometers. However, the Site doesn't require a cellphone for social networking functions. It is advisable to start using the Site immediately, even if you don't have a suitable cellphone. You will then be familiar with the Site and be able to start using the real-time capabilities immediately when you do obtain a cellphone. You will also be able to assist other cryonauts.


Blog posts featured on the social networking site Human Biopreservation as of September 14, 2011:


:Cryonics catacomb


:Majority would like their body frozen after death


:Photographic insight into the practice of cryonics


:The Social Climate at the Cryonics Institute



Information Security


During a beta test, there is a risk of inappropriate release of information. However, the most common source of problems is a weak password. Do not use a password that has been previously used, a name, a telephone number, etc. Compromise of your password could result in you being banned from the Site. We will be testing passwords with penetration tools. Users with weak passwords will be suspended. These pages explain how to choose a strong password:


How to Create a Password You Can Remember


Generate strong yet memorable passwords


Information transmitted to and from the Site is unencrypted. Therefore, it could be captured in transit. This is a minor risk, since sensitive information is only accessible during transmission. It is much more likely that information stored on the Site is compromised. If you are not comfortable entering sensitive information, even in the private fields available only to the Administrators, you should enter, "Contact the Secretary." However, such a restriction could delay an emergency response. Even restricting data access to Administrators could cause a delay, since that reduces the number of persons that could potentially respond to an alert. Additional security information is provided in the Terms of Service on the Site. Please review that information before deciding what information you will provide. If you do not wish to enter information in a required field, just type "Withheld" instead.




About the Human Biopreservation Institute


The Human Biopreservation Institute (HBI) is the proposed Cryonics Industry trade association. The Steering Committee includes:


:Dr. Robert R. Newport, M.D., Chairman


:Prof. David S. Stodolsky, PhD, Acting Secretary and Site Administrator


:Dennis T. Nut, Software Developer and Site Administrator


:Ronald G. Havelock, PhD, OD


:Eugene Leitl


:Danila Medvedev


:Michael Perry


:David Pizer


:Alexei Potapov


:Shannon Vyff




Please use this link to register.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Market Stalinism


The phrase ‘anti-globalization movement’ is a coinage of the US media and activists have never felt comfortable with it. Insofar as this is a movement against anything, it’s against neoliberalism, which can be defined as a kind of market fundamentalism—or, better, market Stalinism—that holds there is only one possible direction for human historical development. The map is held by an elite of economists and corporate flacks, to whom must be ceded all power once held by institutions with any shred of democratic accountability; from now on it will be wielded largely through unelected treaty organizations like the IMF, WTO or NAFTA. In Argentina, or Estonia, or Taiwan, it would be possible to say this straight out: ‘We are a movement against neoliberalism’. But in the US, language is always a problem. The corporate media here is probably the most politically monolithic on the planet: neoliberalism is all there is to see—the background reality; as a result, the word itself cannot be used. The issues involved can only be addressed using propaganda terms like ‘free trade’ or ‘the free market’.

Friday, August 26, 2011

violence may be invisible, but it remains inscribed in the very logic of our economic common sense

However tawdry their origins, the creation of new media of exchange – coinage appeared almost simultaneously in Greece, India, and China – appears to have had profound intellectual effects. Some have even gone so far as to argue that Greek philosophy was itself made possible by conceptual innovations introduced by coinage. The most remarkable pattern, though, is the emergence, in almost the exact times and places where one also sees the early spread of coinage, of what were to become modern world religions: prophetic Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, and eventually, Islam. While the precise links are yet to be fully explored, in certain ways, these religions appear to have arisen in direct reaction to the logic of the market. To put the matter somewhat crudely: if one relegates a certain social space simply to the selfish acquisition of material things, it is almost inevitable that soon someone else will come to set aside another domain in which to preach that, from the perspective of ultimate values, material things are unimportant, and selfishness – or even the self – illusory.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Impacts 'more likely' to have spread life from Earth

Asteroid impacts on the Earth may have scattered more life-bearing debris to Mars, Jupiter or beyond our Solar System than previously thought.

Marriage and divorce 'up weight'

To some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk

Friday, August 19, 2011

States are, after all, ultimately forms of violence

There is another factor here that is even less remarked, but I think equally important. Everyone knows that faced with a broad and potentially revolutionary coalition, any governments’ first move will be to try to split in it. Making concessions to placate the moderates while selectively criminalizing the radicals — this is Art of Governance 101. The US government, though, is in possession of a global empire constantly mobilized for war, and this gives it another option that most governments do not. Those running it can, pretty much any time they like, decide to ratchet up the level of violence overseas. This has proved a remarkably effective way to defuse social movements founded around domestic concerns. It seems no coincidence that the civil rights movement was followed by major political concessions and a rapid escalation of the war in Vietnam; that the anti-nuclear movement was followed by the abandonment of nuclear power and a ramping up of the Cold War, with Star Wars programs and proxy wars in Afghanistan and Central America; that the Global Justice Movement was followed by the collapse the Washington consensus and the War on Terror. As a result early SDS had to put aside its early emphasis on participatory democracy to become a mere anti-war movement; the anti-nuclear movement morphed into a nuclear freeze movement; the horizontal structures of DAN and PGA gave way to top-down mass organizations like ANSWER and UFPJ. From the point of view of government the military solution does have its risks. The whole thing can blow up in one’s face, as it did in Vietnam (hence the obsession, at least since the first Gulf War to design a war that was effectively protest-proof.) There is also always a small risk some miscalculation will accidentally trigger a nuclear Armageddon and destroy the planet. But these are risks politicians faced with civil unrest appear to have normally been more than willing to take — if only because directly democratic movements genuinely scare them, while anti-war movements are their preferred adversary. States are, after all, ultimately forms of violence. For them, changing the argument to one about violence is taking things back to their home turf, what they really prefer to talk about. Organizations designed either to wage, or to oppose, wars will always tend to be more hierarchically organized than those designed with almost anything else in mind. This is certainly what happened in the case of the anti-nuclear movement. While the anti-war mobilizations of the ‘80s turned out far larger numbers than Clamshell or Abalone ever had, but it also marked a return to marching along with signs, permitted rallies, and abandoning experiments with new forms of direct democracy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A globalization movement?

The phrase ‘anti-globalization movement’ is a coinage of the US media and activists have never felt comfortable with it. Insofar as this is a movement against anything, it’s against neoliberalism, which can be defined as a kind of market fundamentalism—or, better, market Stalinism—that holds there is only one possible direction for human historical development. The map is held by an elite of economists and corporate flacks, to whom must be ceded all power once held by institutions with any shred of democratic accountability; from now on it will be wielded largely through unelected treaty organizations like the IMF, WTO or NAFTA.

The empire of debt

The fact that we have cast such institutions in a language of freedom does not mean that what we now think of as economic freedom does not ultimately rest on a logic that has for most of human history been considered the very essence of slavery.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Investment Manager's View on the Top 1%

Unlike those in the lower half of the top 1%, those in the top half and, particularly, top 0.1%, can often borrow for almost nothing, keep profits and production overseas, hold personal assets in tax havens, ride out down markets and economies, and influence legislation in the U.S. They have access to the very best in accounting firms, tax and other attorneys, numerous consultants, private wealth managers, a network of other wealthy and powerful friends, lucrative business opportunities, and many other benefits. Most of those in the bottom half of the top 1% lack power and global flexibility and are essentially well-compensated workhorses for the top 0.5%, just like the bottom 99%. In my view, the American dream of striking it rich is merely a well-marketed fantasy that keeps the bottom 99.5% hoping for better and prevents social and political instability. The odds of getting into that top 0.5% are very slim and the door is kept firmly shut by those within it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Johan Galtung, Peace & Conflict Pioneer, on How to Stop Extremism that Fueled Shooting

So Breivik talks cultures where the Nazis talked race. But otherwise, the similarity is almost point to point.

But you see, then, when again you ask the question, "What does it remind you of?" there is a horrifying answer, which will be very difficult for Norway to process. This is exactly the ideology of the Washington-led attack on Muslim countries. There’s a civil war in Europe. It’s called "clash of civilizations,".... The road is greased by failed states and by local groups taking command those failed states, so that in these failed states, the local groups, be they Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, these groups can launch decisive attacks on the Christian Western mainland, and particularly then U.S. And 9/11 is then interpreted in that context. And point three, makes no sense to have any dialogue. These people, you cannot talk with them. Terrible as it is, the only language they understand is violence. Well, my country, Norway, is a part of that: sharpshooters in Afghanistan killing Taliban.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Individuals Tending to Savagery

MEXICO CITY -- An anti-technology group calling itself "Individuals Tending to Savagery" was responsible for a package bomb that injured two university professors just outside Mexico City, a prosecutor said Tuesday.The explosion at the Monterrey Technological Institute's campus in the State of Mexico on the outskirts of the capital Monday injured two professors, one of whom was involved in robotics research. Neither suffered life-threatening injuries.
"The ITS is a movement that, in accordance with its ideals, opposes any development of neo- or nanotechnology anywhere in the world, and they are linked to attacks in several different countries of Europe, including Spain and France," Castillo said.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monckton shows IPCC Pachauri is dishonest

Lord Monkton shows how Pachauri was told about bad graphs and dishonest conclusions but stills continues to ignore this advice.


Really amazing, because Lord Monckton asks Phil Jones if the warming trend is accelerating and he says no. He then asks additional climate body's, and they ALL state no! Then he asks the US scientists to evaluate the SAME data, and they state YES (in other words, the flat out lie!).

Climategate 'hide the decline' explained by Berkeley professor Richard A. Muller

Fraud by leading "scientists" of the global warming scam exposed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thank climate change for the rise of humans

SOME claim climate change will destroy our species; now it seems it also helped forge it. The rapid fluctuations in temperature that characterised the global climate between 2 and 3 million years ago coincided with a golden age in human evolution.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is nothing sacred? The sad demise of Norway's "sex priest"

“Christendom, as propagated by the church,” he says, “has been more hostile to sex than any other religion,” leading directly to widespread rape, abuse, and general unhappiness.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Artificial Ape

Memes provably don't exist. Technological development is too complex to be explained by Darwinian like evolution.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In the wake of economic reform

In the wake of a quarter century of root and branch neo-liberal economic re-engineering of whole society I have been asked to reflect on the prospects for a renewal of nation-building today.

Does a long-term relationship kill romantic love?

The linked Publication's conclusion is in line with previous research findings: In an overwhelming majority of cases (from 6 of 7 to 9 of 10 couples) romantic love completely disappears. These findings relate to sexually monogamous couples.


Three types of love are identified:
Eros / Romantic love (intensity, sexual interest, and engagement)
Mania / Passionate love (romantic love with obsession) 
Storge / Companionate love (warm, less intense love, devoid of attraction and sexual desire.)

The chronologic sequence and research findings (My comments in parenthesis):
Passionate love - (This gets the couple together.) If it doesn't end soon enough, relationship satisfaction is decreased. Too much drama for the long-term.
Romantic love - (This builds and maintains the pair bond.) It declines later in all cases, but for 1 of 8 couples it remains high enough to maintain sexual interest and therefore continue.
Companionate love - Also called "friend love." Satisfaction with the relationship is lower than with romantic love. (This is where an overwhelming majority of marriages end up under the monogamy for life / one-and-only plan.)

From the paper:
Conclusion
Contrary to what has been widely believed, long-term romantic love (with intensity, sexual interest, and engagement, but without the obsessive element common in new relationships), appears to be a real phenomenon that may be enhancing to individuals’ lives— positively intense long-term romantic love sets a standard that couples (and marital therapists) can strive for that is higher than seems to have been generally considered realistic. This could also be distressing for long-term couples who have achieved a kind of contented, even happy—but not intensely romantic—status quo, assuming it is the best anyone can expect. Couples benefit from downward social comparison with other couples and will even distort their evaluation of their own relationship to an objectively unrealistically positive view.
These last two sentences may explain the more extreme resistance to polyamory often seen:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mexico's 'Holy Death' cult growing

A cult which reveres death is growing rapidly in Mexico and its influence is now spreading to neighbouring countries including the US.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Global warming movement is merely a front for the religion of death

As we have exhaustively documented, the global warming movement is merely a front for the religion of death – neo-eugenics – and the agenda to impose draconian population control measures and eco-fascism in the name of saving the earth.
Leaders of this new cult include people like Finnish environmentalist guru Pentti Linkola, who has called for climate change deniers be “re-educated” in eco-gulags and that the vast majority of humans be killed with the rest enslaved and controlled by a green police state, with people forcibly sterilized, cars confiscated and travel restricted to members of the elite.
Linkola would feverishly enjoy using the red button depicted in the climate ad to liquidate skeptics, since he once observed that another world war would be “a happy occasion for the planet” because it would eradicate tens of millions of people.
As we have documented, although not going quite as far as Linkola, the eco-fascist movement is attracting prominent advocates, including James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia hypothesis. Lovelock told the Guardian earlier this yearthat “democracy must be put on hold” to combat global warming and that “a few people with authority” should be allowed to run the planet.
This sentiment was echoed by author and environmentalist Keith Farnish, who in a recent book called for acts of sabotage and environmental terrorism in blowing up dams and demolishing cities in order to return the planet to the agrarian age. Prominent NASA global warming alarmist and Al Gore ally Dr. James Hansen endorsed Farnish’s book.
Another prominent figure in the climate change debate who exemplifies the violent and death-obsessed belief system of the movement is Dr. Eric R. Pianka, an American biologist based at the University of Texas in Austin. During a speech to the Texas Academy of Science in March 2006, Pianka advocated the need to exterminate 90% of the world’s population through the airborne ebola virus. The reaction from scores of top scientists and professors in attendance was not one of shock or revulsion – they stood and applauded Pianka’s call for mass genocide.
The current White House science czar John P. Holdren also advocates the most obscenely dictatorial, eco-fascist, and inhumane practices in the name of environmentalism. In his 1977 Ecoscience textbook, Holdren calls for a “planetary regime” to carry out forced abortions and mandatory sterilization procedures, as well as drugging the water supply, in an effort to cull the human surplus.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Member Communications

Communications among members of human biopreservation organizations and others interested in life-extension technologies has been deficient for a large number of reasons. This page is made available as a supplementary communication channel for discussion of these issues.

I will attempt to respond to any questions or comments posted here in a timely manner. Off topic comments will be deleted.

Users should be aware that this is a publicly accessible page. Names of persons should not be used and names of organizations should be avoided, unless essential for understanding. Private communications should be transmitted by email, Skype, or instant messaging client.


Added April 18, 2011:

I have suggested the elimination of arbitrary censorship on a List. It is clear that my suggestion was not clearly understood. The first feedback I have received argues that the principle I wish to apply is that a committee should have decision authority over publication to that List. This misses both the idea of Rule of Law and the principle of Freedom of Speech.

There has been no opportunity for me to clear up these misunderstandings. Since I am not directly involved in the discussion among the Board Members, nor am I posting to the List in question.

My view is that arbitrary censorship has no role in a democratic organization. Members can email me for a copy of the censored message (Please examine my Candidate Statement on the Files page first.)


Added April 26, 2011:

The Moderator of the List in question has mischaracterized my objection as not wanting to be moderated. What I objected to was surreptitious censorship. The censorship not only deleted text, but also included replacing text without attribution. This is, perhaps, the worst form of mutilation of a text as defined under the Copyright Law. Mutilation of text is characterized as a violation of the author's Moral Rights under that Law. Moderation would have resulted in the message being returned as being inappropriate for the List in some way. These violations were concealed, since I was not informed that they had taken place.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Restricting oil production to ensure a higher price.

The Texas Railroad Commission’s mandate was to “prevent waste”, which from the beginning was a mixture of the legitimate engineering issue of efficient field management and the more controversial economic goal of restricting production in order to ensure that producers received a higher price.

Perhaps a more interesting conclusion in this article is the association between oil price shocks and economic downturns. The conclusion is that whoever controls the price of oil controls the economy as a whole.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is the World ready for direct democracy?

Please support my "idea" on Google Moderator (Click title above).



The old Mac server running Manila is showing 2629 hits 15-2-2011 at 11:35 AM.
8502 at 20-2 at 1:58 PM


This abstract now has 4523 reads (update 20-2: 4576; 1-3: 4626; 13-4: 4750):

http://dss.secureid.org/discuss/msgReader$14

Sunday, February 6, 2011

THREE RECENT CRYONICS-RELATED NOVELS

There is a quote from the book, “Such as a whole society of people who become so wrapped up in avoiding death, they forgot to be alive?”

The author is not familiar with terror management theory, because it would then be obvious to her that this describes all current societies.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

US forces citizen to lie to family and friends

The National Security Letter (NSL) statute, which was expanded through the USA Patriot Act, allows the FBI to use NSLs to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers without any prior court approval or suspicion of any kind. While misuse and abuse of the NSL power has been widely documented, the Obama administration is now seeking to expand the statute to allow the FBI to demand even more records without court approval. In July, the Obama administration proposed to expand the statute to allow the FBI to get American's internet activity records without court approval or even suspicion of wrongdoing.

CCC Talk

Saturday, January 22, 2011

IEA doubles global gas reserves estimates

The world may have 250 years of gas usage at current levels thanks to "unconventional gas" from shale and coal beds, Anne-Sophie Corbeau, senior gas expert at the IEA told BBC News.
Estimates may even be revised upwards.
Studies are underway into newly-recoverable sources, Ms Corbeau said.
But she stressed that the totals were highly uncertain, and depended on price, technology and the accessibility of supplies.
"The gas story is huge," she told BBC News.
"A few years ago the United States was ready to import gas. In 2009 it had become the world's biggest gas producer. This is phenomenal, unbelievable

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wikileaks, Karl Marx and you

wikileaks.pngBy Alistair Davidson, published on December 23rd, 2010
An opinion/analysis piece by a supporter of L&S
Despite blanket media coverage of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, there has been little discussion of the fact that Assange is merely one leader within a large and complicated social movement. The better analyses have found it interesting that the Swedish Pirate Party are aiding Wikileaks; some note links to the German Chaos Computer Club. But only “geeks” and “hackers” (technology workers) are aware that all of these organisations are members of the same movement.
This social movement, which has been termed the “free culture movement”, has a thirty year history. It incorporates elements reminiscent of earlier workers’ movements: elements of class struggle, political agitation, and radical economics. The movement’s cadre, mainly technology workers, have been locked in conflict with the ruling class over the political and economic nature of information itself. As Wikileaks demonstrates, the outcome will have implications for all of us.The free culture movement exists as a consequence of the internet’s political economy. Personal computers have radically transformed the economic nature of information. Before the 1970s, a given piece of information was tied to a physical object - a piece of paper, an LP, a roll of film. Entire industries were built on selling paper, LP’s and rolls of film with particular bits of information on them. Then the personal computer arrived and suddenly information of all kinds could be duplicated infinitely at minimal cost - and distributed by the internet to a global audience. Every human could have a copy of every piece of art ever created for the cost of a broadband connection.
In the terms of capitalist economics, every good has a marginal cost, which is the cost of producing one more item. Computers reduce the marginal cost of information to zero, and the internet makes distribution, legal or otherwise, trivial. Information has become "non-excludable" (copying cannot be prevented) and "non-rivalrous" (if I give you information, I keep my copy of that information). In this situation, it is almost impossible to treat information as a commodity - as capitalist economics would have it, information is a public good, like roads or national defense.
As a result, there is a contradiction within capitalism. The most obvious source of profit, the very reason for a capitalist society to invest in information technology, is to extract value by selling information as a commodity. Meanwhile information technology has steadily undermined the practicality of treating information as property.
As computers have rendered “intellectual property rights” unenforceable, the remaining method of privatising information is secrecy. Information collection and secrecy is the business model of Google and Facebook - collecting and selling information about us to their advertisers. Information collection and secrecy are also the core functions of the modern security state. It is in this context that the immense social significance of Wikileaks’ actions becomes apparent: Wikileaks is a key part of the free culture movement’s assault on the bastions of privatised information.
The present situation was predicted by visionary hackers over thirty years ago, and they set out to ensure the victory of free culture over proprietary culture, open organisation over closed, and privacy over Big Brother.
The word hacker predates the personal computer, originating at the MIT Tech Model Rail Club in the 1950s. Amongst geeks, it is used to mean a technically skilled individual who is driven to learn and experiment, a person who believes in sharing what they’ve learned with the community.
Hacker culture proper originated in the 1970s, in hobbyist clubs dedicated to the first personal computers. Hackers quickly became used to copying software freely - after all, it cost nothing to share, and reading the software’s “source code” was educational. Software became the first modern information good: infinitely replicable, at no cost.
However, others were already seeking to change the nature of software, to turn it into a commodity. How else, they asked, could the creators afford to eat? In 1976, Bill Gatesfamously complained:
As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid? Is this fair? ... Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? ... The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software …but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.
This was an early appearance of the new contradiction in capitalism - a conflict between the path of greatest production (infinite copying) and the existing source of profits (artificial scarcity). Karl Marx argued that conflict between new and old modes of production is at the core of social change:
The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. ... At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. --Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
As Marx might have predicted, Gates’ plea fell on deaf ears. By the mid 1980s, sharing software had never been easier and Internet Bulletin Boards were widespread. Hackers and others would make a computer-to-computer phone call to join discussions, and to download illegal copies of software. Hacker conferences and organisations emerged, including the left-wing Chaos Computer Club in Germany, and later the apolitical DefCon and “liberal” HOPE in the United States.
From its experiences of the new technology, this anarchic subculture developed a shared political and moral sense, now known as the Hacker Ethic:
  • Access to computers - and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works - should be unlimited and total.
  • Mistrust authority - promote decentralization.
  • You can create art and beauty on a computer.
  • Computers can change your life for the better.
  • All information should be free.
The similarity of the ethic to older conceptions of an egalitarian society has been noted by the discussion group Project Oekonux:
The critique of market exchange and of money, the rejection of hierarchy and borders, the critique of contemporary work and the revindication of passion and freedom as primary motivations, of cooperation and of sharing as the foundations of new relations, all this is found, to a degree more or less elaborated and coherent, in the "hacker ethic." Now these are elements that form part of the foundation of the communist project.
Some thinkers sought to move beyond an ethic and develop a political programme. The first and most important anti-propertarian theorist and organiser to emerge from the hacker world was Richard M Stallman. Stallman is a controversial figure, a geek's geek and not always polite to his political opponents. In spite of his apparent interpersonal shortcomings, he is widely respected as the founder of the free culture movement, perhaps the first person to understand the new economic situation, and certainly the first person to do anything concrete about it.
Stallman was driven to action when he saw the nature of software begin to change - increasingly, companies kept secret the details necessary to modify their programs, and sued anyone who distributed copies. The first modern information good was becoming a commodity, against its economic nature and against the Hacker Ethic.
In response, Stallman created a new ideology, Free Software, declaring software-as-commodity to be a moral evil: Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.
  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits
(note that "free" here does not refer to the cost, as in "free beer”, but to freedom, as in "free speech" - the word has two meanings in English)
As information workers, Stallman and his peers owned their means of production and had access to the means of distribution - by the 1980s, all they needed to bypass capital entirely was a computer and a phone line. In 1984, Stallman began a public collaborative effort to build a complete set of software that respected the four freedoms, announcing it with thedeclaration:
I consider that the Golden Rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement. ... So that I can continue to use computers without dishonor, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free.
He founded a political group, the Free Software Foundation, and in collaboration with the lawyer and free software leader Eben Moglen popularised another new concept - copyleft. A “copyleft” license is a special copyright license that brings legal enforcement to the four freedoms. It grants anyone the right to modify and share an information good, provided that any modifications are shared according to the same license. In other words, you may treat the work as communal property, as long as your own modifications also become communal property.
To hackers, avid readers of science fiction, it seemed obvious that in the near future all of humanity’s information would be stored on a global computer network. Stallman realised that if state or private interests controlled the software running the network, they could monitor or censor any information they wished - and decided that humanity as a whole must have the ability to share and modify all software. This idea was most fully developed by the lawyer Lawrence Lessig when he coined the phrase code is law.
In real space, we recognize how laws regulate - through constitutions, statutes, and other legal codes. In cyberspace we must understand how a different “code” regulates - how the software and hardware (i.e., the “code” of cyberspace) that make cyberspace what it is also regulate cyberspace as it is. As William Mitchell puts it, this code is cyberspace’s “law.” “Lex Informatica,” as Joel Reidenberg first put it, or better, “code is law.”
Cyberspace is regulated by software, much as the real world is regulated by law. It follows that if there is to be a free culture, then software must be free - otherwise, corporate and state interests have an unacceptable ability to collect and censor information.
These trends - the end of information scarcity, the distribution of the means of production into the hands of information workers, the development of a broader hacker community and ethic, the emergence of ideological leaders and organisations, and the creation of a legal theory - combined in the 1990s to produce an extremely rare economic event: the arrival of an entirely new mode of production. The first example of the new mode was the Linux project.
By the early 1990s, the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Project had assembled all the free software necessary to run a computer apart from one, known as the “kernel”. Finnish hacker Linus Torvalds created the free kernel “Linux” as a hobby project, licensing it under the FSF's copyleft license. Linus’ hobby soon became the first large engineering project to be conducted entirely online, and it developed faster than anyone envisaged. Twenty years later, it has benefited from millions of contributions from many thousands of workers around the world.
Free software - built on GNU and Linux - is now ubiquitous on internet servers, and recently began leading the market in smartphones (thanks to Google’s Android). The GNU/Linux ecosystem is a completely unique phenomenon - an engineering and artistic project of immense scope conducted across thirty years using a global workforce, with most of the work coming from volunteers simply because they enjoyed contributing.
Eric S Raymond, in his seminal essay the Cathedral and the Bazaar, made an early attempt to explain what was going on:
Linux was the first project for which a conscious and successful effort to use the entire world as its talent pool was made. I don't think it's a coincidence that the gestation period of Linux coincided with the birth of the World Wide Web, and that Linux left its infancy during the same period in 1993 - 1994 that saw the takeoff of the ISP industry and the explosion of mainstream interest in the Internet. Linus was the first person who learned how to play by the new rules that pervasive Internet access made possible. While cheap Internet was a necessary condition for the Linux model to evolve, I think it was not by itself a sufficient condition. Another vital factor was the development of a leadership style and set of cooperative customs that could allow developers to attract co-developers and get maximum leverage out of the medium. But what is this leadership style and what are these customs? They cannot be based on power relationships - and even if they could be, leadership by coercion would not produce the results we see.
Information workers were cooperating globally and without coercion to produce property that was to be communally owned. Non-coercive productive relations were inevitable given the underlying economic truth - a computer, internet access, and communally-owned free software are all the productive capital a computer programmer needs. The cooperative, ad-hoc and voluntary nature of GNU/Linux development is exactly the behaviour Marx predicted would emerge from free access to productive capital:
Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning. … labor [will] become not only a means of life but life's prime want -- Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme
Always confining themselves to information property alone, because of its non-scarce nature, the philosophers of the free software movement started to sound like libertarian communists - even though many in the community would not subscribe to leftist politics. FSF Lawyer Eben Moglen made the case forcefully in his essay Anarchism Triumphant:
At the center of the digital revolution, with the executable bitstreams that make everything else possible, propertarian regimes not only do not make things better, they can make things radically worse. Property concepts, whatever else may be wrong with them, do not enable and have in fact retarded progress. In the network society, anarchism (or more properly, anti-possessive individualism) is a viable political philosophy … because defection is impossible, free riders are welcome, which resolves one of the central puzzles of collective action in a propertarian social system.
Some hackers were unhappy with these ideological developments. On the grounds that business was perturbed by the FSF’s rhetoric, Eric S Raymond formed the breakaway Open Source Initiative to focus discussion on the technical superiority of open development models, avoiding troublesome talk about “freedom” and the nature of property.
Raymond had been invited out by Netscape to help them plan their browser source-code release ... we might finally be able to get the corporate world to listen to what the hacker community had to teach about the superiority of an open development process. The conferees decided it was time to dump the moralizing and confrontational attitude that had been associated with "free software" in the past and sell the idea strictly on the same pragmatic, business-case grounds that had motivated Netscape. They brainstormed about tactics and a new label. "Open source", contributed by Chris Peterson, was the best thing they came up with.
The Open Source Initiative helped to make business comfortable in the free software world, but the internet continued to have a troubled relationship with capitalism.
From the 1990s hackers and artists found themselves caught in an intensifying class conflict, as intellectual property owners manipulated the political process to strengthen laws protecting information’s status as property, even as that status became increasingly unenforceable in practise. To hackers, this could only be seen as an attempt to extract needless rent from a naturally abundant resource.
“Content owners”, alarmed by the emergence of file-sharing websites, began building digital locks, called Digital Rights Management (DRM), into DVDs, mp3s and even e-books. The hacker community was deeply offended by the idea of books that could not be resold or lent, and set about breaking the locks as fast as they could be designed. A class struggle was being fought simultaneously at the points of information production and consumption, because in the world of computers the point of production is the point of consumption.
Under intense music industry lobbying, several countries including the United States implemented laws banning any technology capable of bypassing DRM to allow copying. A series of high-profile prosecutions followed, most famously that of Russian programmer Dmitri Skylarov, who was arrested after giving a conference speech in the United States explaining how to break Adobe’s e-book DRM.
Under increasing attack, the wider geek and hacker communities began to radicalise to defend free speech and free information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was formed to offer legal support. Various hacker groups adopted political aims, most often aimed at guaranteeing free speech and defending the free internet.
The hackers were fighting the struggle, but during the 2000s the means of production and distribution for every kind of artist became available to anyone with a computer - free software began to allow the creation of a truly free culture.
Lawrence Lessig, who had predicted this as part of his “Code is Law” theory, founded Creative Commons, an organisation dedicated to giving individual writers, musicians and artists easy-to-understand ways of allowing others to share and modify their work, with the stated aim of bringing the freedoms of free software to all art:
It is no accident that those who understand this are those closest to technology. Our challenge will be to find ways to explain it so other creators get it as well .... Our single, overarching aim: build the public domain, by building projects that expand the range of creative work available for others to build upon.
Perhaps most importantly, they created a copyleft license for non-software works. Creative Commons provided the legal framework for the current flowering of free culture - Wikipedia, for example, may be copied and modified by anyone under a Creative Commons copyleft license. Artists began to join the free culture movement, dissatisfied with capital’s notion of them as interchangeable “content creators” and enticed by the possibilities of distribution free from industry control.
In 2003 now-infamous filesharing website the Pirate Bay, which has pioneered partnerships with Creative Commons artists, was spun off from Swedish group Piratbyrån. Piratbyrån was a think-tank on the nature of intellectual property created by hackers, artists and left activists to counter the Swedish Antipiratbyrån (Anti-Piracy Bureau). In 2006, they founded the Pirate Party, winning two seats in the European Parliament. and there are now Pirate Parties in countries across the globe campaigning for weaker intellectual property laws and free speech on the internet.
At least some members of Piratbyrån are radically anti-intellectual property, and their vision is consciously opposed to information as a commodity:
The copyright industry today likes to present the problem as if internet were just a way for so-called “consumers” to get so-called ”content”, and that we now just got to have ”a reasonable distribution” of money between ISP’s and content industry ... It is totally wrong to regard our role as to represent “consumer interests”. On the contrary, it’s all about leaving the artificial division of humanity into the two groups ”producers” and ”consumers” behind. ... We are now pounding the old mass medial aura and we are in a state of transgressing the hierarchical consumer-producer society. -- Rasmus Fleischer of Piratbyrån speaking at the 2005 Chaos Communication Congress
The Pirate Bay were not merely pirates - they saw themselves as taking deliberate political actions to undermine the existing economic structure in favour of a new mode of production.
Piratbyrån itself disbanded in June 2010 and the Pirate Bay was sold, however the high level of support for Wikileaks provided by Scandinavian activists and the Pirate Party suggests that the wider milieu is alive and well.
Wikileaks also has roots in an influential 1990s discussion group, the Cypherpunk mailing list. “Cypherpunk”, formed from the words “cipher”, or code, and “cyberpunk”, a science fiction genre full of rogue hackers fighting corporate tyrants, indicates the members’ loose ideology - that the anonymity and security provided by computerised cryptography (“crypto”) could create a new society free from coercion, a system know as crypto-anarchy.
Many of us see strong crypto as the key enabling technology for a new economic and social system, a system which will develop as cyberspace becomes more important. A system which dispenses with national boundaries, which is based on voluntary (even if anonymous) free trade. At issue is the end of governments as we know them today. ... Strong crypto permits unbreakable encryption, unforgeable signatures, untraceable electronic messages, and unlinkable pseudonymous identities. This ensures that some transactions and communications can be entered into only voluntarily. External force, law, and regulation cannot be applied. This is "anarchy," in the sense of no outside rulers and laws.
The cypherpunks were ahead of their time, clearly anticipating Wikileaks’s use of anonymous, encrypted internet drop-boxes by 15 years or more - but then Julian Assange was a regular poster to the list. The hacker community has created the future it used to speculate about.
In one notorious incident, cypherpunk Jim Bell published an essay entitled “Assassination Politics”, which discussed the creation of a completely anonymous site where users could sponsor the assassination of corrupt politicians. Bell was later jailed for spying on federal agents, themselves sent to spy on him for writing the essay.
Assange laid the philosophical groundwork for Wikileaks when he replied to Assassination Politics in his State and Terrorist Conspiracies:
How can we reduce the ability of a conspiracy to act? … We can split the conspiracy, reduce or eliminating important communication between a few high weight links or many low weight links. Traditional attacks on conspiratorial power groupings, such as assassination, have cut high weight links by killing, kidnapping, blackmailing or otherwise marginalizing or isolating some of the conspirators they were connected to. ... The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption. Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.
With a single mechanism, Assange demonstrates the political implications of the new economics of information. If all information is can be copied freely, then organisations may be faced with no choice but to conduct the majority of their dealings openly. He has simply carried Eric S Raymond’s conclusion about Linux - that its open organisational model would always be more efficient than Microsoft’s closed model - into the political realm.
Wikileaks is the first concrete realisation of the crypto-anarchist dream: completely anonymous leaking, dealing blows to tyranny. However it has also highlighted the weak points in the free internet, surviving dangers to freedom of speech and the new mode of production.
Perhaps the most obvious is that large corporations control the physical infrastructure of the internet - the big servers and all the actual wires from place to place. Another danger is the monopolisation of some services - social networking by Facebook, search by Google. And with the recent cutting-off of Wikileaks funds by PayPal, Visa and Mastercard, the danger of state-corporate action to deny funds has become starkly apparent.
As is typical, the hacker community has been working on solutions for some time. There are projects to create wireless “mesh” networks, and projects to create distributed, open alternatives to Facebook and Google. There is even the Bitcoin project, which has the ambitious goal of creating a distributed virtual currency.
Marx described, in broad strokes, the ways in which political economy shapes society and history, but left the detail up to those alive at the time. The activism, organisation and ideology we see in the hacker community today are the material consequence of a new mode of production, a fundamental shift in the political economy of information. The free culture movement has (so far) defeated all attempts, both legal and technological, to reimpose information scarcity. If Marx was right then this is simply because the winds of history are behind us.
There is no way to predict where this will end - some hackers theorise that in the future, manufacturing will decentralise in the same way as information production, a miniature factory in every home if you will. The processes favouring decentralisation and organisational openness will continue to gain strength, as will the reaction against those processes. The only certainty is that the economic nature of information has changed forever. That fact will still be transforming our society a century from now.
© 2010 Alistair Davidson. Originally published at http://www.libertyandsolidarity.org/node/104. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 3.0