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"People can edit pictures in Photoshop, neat," the Guardian article seems to say. "But, but, they can edit video now too! Horror! Horror!"

Enh. As I've said before, the true paranoid believes that the government had the technology to do this years ago, some going as far as to say at the beginning of motion pictures; at the very least, you could assume that talented and creative government employees would have the ability to do it. What the Guardian seems more worried about is that commoners -- er, regular people, I mean -- seem to be reaching that point now.

The glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel may well come from the democratisation of the technology. Since anyone will be able to manufacture any "news" they want to, and since the internet will provide an instantaneous and free means to disseminate it, then the concept of news itself will be devalued. Rather than believe everything, people will believe nothing. They will then begin to look more for analysis of the news to help them make sense of it and some merging of traditional mass media and (heavily branded) blogging will provide a framework for this to take place: blogging may be an unusually important part of mass media's future.

That may be an understatement or an overstatement. Ask me again in ten years -- and again in forty... ;)

Speaking of mass media, there's sort of a movement to quit slashdot. I don't agree with it enough to not go to slashdot, but it raises interesting points and proceeds to provide plenty of other sites where you can get your tech on, so to speak.

I don't need to produce unflattering comparisons to Communist Russia in order to talk about why TIPS is a bad idea -- I can directly relate it to information filtering to show why it can't work right. There's way, way too much incoming information already coming from "citizen spies", namely the crazies who've always been reporting terrorists to the government even when they've only been dreaming about terrorists. Even with Carnivore, there's just too much information to sift through. It cannot possibly fulfill its prescribed purpose. Even assuming you do manage to track down a single terrorist with this thing, you're going to end up with hundreds of regular citizens -- the people you're supposed to be protecting -- harassed and worse by law enforcement officials with an agenda, bad cops or bad agents. That's just not intelligent behavior...unless, of course, you yourself are protected from any legal shenanigans because you're, say, John Ashcroft.

The benefits for high-level government officials cannot be denied: They're not going to be hassled by the people who work under them, so why not make laws that violate the living fuck out of the citizenry's rights?

The problem with lawmakers making laws is that they're no longer citizens in the traditional sense.

In case you're in the mood for history being made in rooms full of angry people, the story about Richard Stallman and the EFF being silenced at the industry/government/pesky-consumer meeting was probably right up your alley -- I know it was up mine. Here's a few choice quotes...

Brett Wynkoop of NY for Fair Use did get a comment on the record because he sat at the table with Big Hollywood and Big IT and commandeered the microphone at one point, which meeting moderator Phillip Bond, undersecretary for Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce, later objected to. "We have a structure here," Bond said more than once when fair use advocates tried to take the floor.

During his short comment, which Bond tried to cut off, Wynkoop asked how this government-sponsored working group could consider moving forward without customer voices. He suggested Congress has already gone too far by passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and outlawing technologies that circumvent anti-copying efforts -- possibly making criminals of people who use magic markers to defeat a CD anti-copying scheme. "Should government be making statutes to criminalize fair use or make criminals of innocent citizens?" he asked.
At one point, the fair use and Free Software advocates thought they had more of a stage when MPAA president Jack Valenti told a NYLXS member he could respond if he'd let Valenti finish his thoughts. Valenti was saying that IT people, content people and content deliverers need to come to a consensus on an acceptable digital rights management, when NYLXS member Vincenzo ("one name, like Cher") stood up and shouted, "What about the public?" (Valenti's response, prompting loud groans from the crowd: "I am part of the public!")
Doug Comer, Intel's director for legal affairs, quarreled with movie industry officials. He noted that IT industry leaders sent an open letter to Hollywood this week saying there's more discussion needed between IT companies and Hollywood over who should shoulder the DRM burden. Valenti said the movie industry had responded within 24 hours to the letter, although the IT industry had taken 11 weeks to respond to an earlier Hollywood letter.

"Why make the point on that?" Comer asked angrily.

As Valenti and Comer continued to argue, Stallman said loudly from the back of the room: "So the movie companies and IT companies join together to restrict us?"
And Bond questioned Valenti's comments that DRM schemes need to fix the problem of peer-to-peer sharing, while saying, "it's in everybody's best interest to give the consumers what they want."

Bond responded: "Jack, you say we've got to deal with peer to peer, but I think that's what consumers want."
At one point Valenti even claimed that the movie industry supported VCRs when they first came out, supposedly like the movie industry is now supporting the Internet. Bob Schwartz of the Home Recording Rights Coalition reminded Valenti that the MPAA tried to get an injunction against VCRs in the early '80s and wanted to charge a $25 to $50 "piracy fee" for every blank videotape sold.
Ruben Safir, president of NYLXS ... suggested the movie and music industries can't complain about theft after they've legally sold movies and music to the public. "If someone breaks into my house and steals my CDs, who calls the cops, me or the music industry?" Safir asked. "If it's me, then that's my property."

At this point, a Disney executive becoming an intelligence agency overseer is practically a transfer, not a career change.

I don't quite understand what the Information Awareness Office is trying to do, but it's got to be progress of some form...either they're going to provoke strong backlash or result in better awareness of informational warfare techniques. I give them ten years to show their colors -- either True Intelligence Blues or Super-Control Steel Grays.

Just in case you didn't know the world is full of utterly crazy people, nudity as a weapon. You read it here first, folks! Go down to your local police precinct headquarters and expose yourself. Hell, they can't arrest us all -- we outnumber them!

It turns out that radioactive vegetables aren't good for you...which is too bad, frankly. If, say, cauliflower could endow humans with super strength, then I'd definately think more about eating it. I probably wouldn't vomit everywhere, either.

In all honesty, though, it's refreshing to see a British violation of civil rights for a change. All these American ones were getting boring.

Speaking of which, one last cynical stab at the Information Awareness Office idea: Apparently, federal agencies don''t know who is skilled and who is not -- how on earth would they identify real information coming down the pipeline from all those TIPS agents?

Another one in the "Good luck, it's a lost cause" category: John Gilmore, the fifth employee of Sun Microsystems, attempted to go toe-to-toe with John "No Rights For You!" Ashcroft over a pesky little thing like personal identification when purchasing plane tickets. Like I said, John G. -- good luck, it's a lost cause.

  posted by Gregory @ 12:25 PM


If you've heard of a wireless network, you may have also heard of warchalking. A throwback to the hobo code, warchalking will no doubt be the next thing that some idiot legislator gets his tiny brain cells in a furor over.

"Graffiti isn't legal to begin with, and this is subversive graffiti to boot," some cluster of senators will say in unison, reading carefully in case technical words show up on the teleprompter. "Illegal acts are wrong because we said so. So there."

Now I'm curious; perhaps graffiti legislation was originally an attempt to prevent use of the hobo code. Hm. This bears researching...

In three unrelated events which show that our universe is slowly turning into another one, perhaps one written by Burroughs: Hunter S Thompson is some pissed about Ted L. Nancy, who may or may not be Jerry Seinfeld, Japanese McDonalds patrons are apparently insane, and cattle mutilations apparently have no explanation. Shock.

Seriously, though, the Japanese tech market has cooler stuff, and the reasons don't seem too unclear to me. A smaller, tighter-knit economic system directly shoved inside a psychotically efficient government means products get to market faster and with fewer restrictions.

Oh, and guess what happens if you don't toe the doctrine carefully in Vatican City? Apparently the Inquisition hasn't shut down at all.

If you're interested at all in free software and other such things, you need to look at Peek-A-Booty, Crypt-toons and Camera/Shy. Peek is a secure-transaction web rerouting thingy (sort of), and Camera/Shy is an add-on for your web browser that enables high-end steganographic and cryptographic browsing, the upshot of which would be that you could produce a web site with encrypted, hidden content invisible to those without Camera/Shy and the proper authentications. Cryptoons use animated sequences to communicate.

Home computer modification? If you're not interested in alternate keyboard layouts, you might be interested in this hyah cryo-Lego mouse. No, I'm not spouting word salsa. Check it out.

The RIAA wants to prosecute actual customers now, and you knew that; but did you know that they're also paying to have fake songs put on Gnutella and KaZaA?

This was easy to see. What happens to fake news reports and "media invisibility" (where the press is bought off to not report on some specific event) when you have people producing local news that the government cannot see?

Oh, that's right. Freedom of speech! :)

  posted by Gregory @ 11:24 AM


I've been gone, but the world has gone on. Observe as an urban legend comes true, a drug cartel learns just how valuable data mining can be, and, for the (as the French say) "piece of resistor"...

Millions of Chinese television viewers got a shock this week when Falun Gong propaganda was beamed into their living rooms as members of the banned sect hijacked one of China's main television satellites.


Officials are reportedly perplexed as to how Falun Gong had the knowledge and equipment needed to intercept a satellite broadcast. There was speculation sect followers had equipped a vehicle to avoid notice.


The recording also said sect followers were beaten and tortured in prison, and invited listeners to follow prompts to hear more information or Falun Gong songs.

Interestingly, the drug cartel was running a constant mole-search by crosslinking a database of the phone numbers of law enforcement and some phone records they obtained illegally. I see this becoming part of the John Ashcroft "No Rights For YOU!" campaign fairly soon. "Drug runners are using ever more sophisticated technology," I can see him stating in a press release any day now. Of course, he would continue "so we're going to make a lot of this stuff illegal, which won't prevent the drug dealers from using it, just ordinary citizens. My fellow Americans, if we curtail liberty now, we can protect liberty now!"

Sounds suspiciously like a trade of freedom for security to me, and I seem to remember a singular Benjamin Franklin noting that folks who make that trade don't do well in the long run. Of course, John Ashcroft has plenty to be angry about anyway these days.

This is all bad news, what with ear spiders and Chinese hackers and psychotically unconstitutional human rights abuses. Speaking of which, the music industry's pathetic attempts to extort money aren't working, while the movie industry seems to be rolling with the punches a little better. With ignorant crap like the argument over a copied piece of silence, it's no surprise to me, and it's probably no surprise to you.

I'd like to apologize for the length of time I've been gone; I feel as though I've been slacking off here. I've been getting hammered with a final project and a job search, only one of which is finished, and the other of which is soon to be done. I expect to be able to start regular updates soon, hopefully on a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule, with something about this length.

I like writing Fifty/Fifty. Apparently a few people like reading it, too. :) Thanks.

  posted by Gregory @ 8:23 AM

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