27 Jun

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Know Your Rights!

Your computer, your phone, and your other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. This is sensitive data that’s worth protecting from prying eyes – including those of the government.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from unreasonable government searches and seizures, and this protection extends to your computer and portable devices. But how does this work in the real world? What should you do if the police or other law enforcement officers show up at your door and want to search your computer?

EFF has designed this guide to help you understand your rights if officers try to search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device, or seize it for further examination somewhere else.

Because anything you say can be used against you in a criminal or civil case, before speaking to any law enforcement official, you should consult with an attorney.

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – Know Your Rights!. EFF has a brief overview of rights that you have with your technology.

13 Feb

BBC News – Gun habit takes hold in neighbourhood of unlocked doors

Americans have long convinced themselves that there is a link between guns and overall freedom. The more guns there are in the hands of individuals, the more difficult it would be for a dictator to take power.

This is the freedom guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1791.

They argue still over the precise meaning of the words, but it is the wrong argument.

The real argument should be whether civilised societies in the modern age are made safer by guns, but that argument seems beyond America.

Perhaps that is America’s problem, too many opportunities to avoid the hard questions. Can this contentment last forever? When I lived here, I thought it could. Now, just visiting, I wonder.

via BBC News – Gun habit takes hold in neighbourhood of unlocked doors. Wonderful point BBC.

07 Dec

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Join EFF in Standing up Against Internet Censorship

Let’s be clear — in the United States, at least, WikiLeaks has a fundamental right to publish truthful political information. And equally important, Internet users have a fundamental right to read that information and voice their opinions about it. We live in a society that values freedom of expression and shuns censorship. Unfortunately, those values are only as strong as the will to support them — a will that seems to be dwindling now in an alarming way.

On Friday, we wrote about Amazon’s disappointing decision to yank hosting services from WikiLeaks after a phone call from a senator’s office. Since then, a cascade of companies and organizations has backed away from WikiLeaks. A public figure called for the assassination of Assange. PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa axed WikiLeaks’ accounts. EveryDNS.net pulled Wikileaks’ DNS services. Unknown sources continue to cripple WikiLeaks with repeated denial of service attacks. Even the Library of Congress, normally a bastion of public access to information, is blocking WikiLeaks.

There has been a tremendous backlash against WikiLeaks from governments around the world. In the United States, lawmakers have rashly proposed a law that threatens legitimate news reporting well beyond WikiLeaks. We expect to see similar efforts in other countries. Like it or not, WikiLeaks has become the emblem for one of the most important battles for our rights that is likely to come along in our lifetimes. We cannot sit this one out.

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – Join EFF in Standing up Against Internet Censorship. What more do you need to know?

28 Apr

Anti-Piracy Group Says: ‘Child Porn Is Great’ Since It Gets Politicians To Block File Sharing Sites – Techdirt

Of course, those filters don't actually work, and using them to force entire sites to be blocked, despite them having a relatively tiny proportion of such content isn't just dishonest and underhanded, but dangerous. We're all in favor of trying to stop child porn, but you do that by focusing on the source, not by putting up filters willy-nilly in a misguided attempt to get politicians to also protect your business model.

via Anti-Piracy Group Says: ‘Child Porn Is Great’ Since It Gets Politicians To Block File Sharing Sites – Techdirt. How much a slime ball do you have to be to use child porn to keep your obsolete business model profitable?

28 Apr

Threats Don’t Justify Speaker Ban – Casper Star-Tribune

Threats of violence alone do not justify preventing someone from speaking on campus, U.S. District Judge William Downes told University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan this afternoon.

via Threats don’t justify speaker ban – Casper Star-Tribune. Good move, threats and violence shouldn’t limit someone’s right to speak, as long as the person speaking is aware of the risks and accepts them.

11 Mar

There is an inverse relationship between level of anonymity and quality of conversation – 37signals

And wow, what a difference it makes. Trading anonymity for accountability has led to radically improved conversations.

via There is an inverse relationship between level of anonymity and quality of conversation – (37signals). 37signals finds value in disallowing anonymity for their conversational sites.

26 Dec

Your Rules Aren’t My Rules

Here is the problem that I see with a lot of the evangelical right. They seem to think that their rules are all of sudden my rules. Here’s a hint, they aren’t. A great example is this ad for a rentor.

The ad includes such wonderful rules as the main lights in the apartment are controlled by a timer turning on at 5:30 am and off at 11:30 pm, heat and a/c controlled, oh yeah and even a camera in your suite. Let’s not even discuss the no alcohol, no illegal drugs, no tobacco, no lighters or matches, the 2 hour, visitation period on Sunday and Saturday. You are even required to wear an id bracelet. Let’s not even get into the idea if you say have a sexual relationship pre-marriage.

This isn’t an apartment, it’s a dorm room and worse.

The worse thing is that the person who put up the said and I quote: “I am a born again Christian. Why is this a problem for people????! I have a house that’s MINE and I PAID FOR IT. I also have a basement apartment for rent. It’s a great space for I’m charing very little for it, $480 monthly, for the right tenant. I know it’s ILLEGAL to require a Christian in the apartment, against the human rights. That’s why I NEVER put this in my ad. Why then does it keep getting taken down?” The problem isn’t that you are a born-again Christian, the problem is that you are applying rules that you may live with and feel are good and normal, but for the majority of society they don’t and won’t live with those sort of rules.

How many people don’t drink alcohol, how many people desire to have their landlord control when they can sleep and wake up, or and watch them on a security camera, how many people desire to have 4 hours a week to have visitors over. I think even my family comes over to visit I want them to come over for more than 2 hours or at a different times than just 2 – 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The silly rules just keep adding more and more restrictions to a person. Is cheap rent worth the agony that a person would go through to have that apartment?

Freedom From Religion Same As Freedom Of Religion

Freedom From Religion Same As Freedom Of Religion

Let’s apply this from the micro to the macro world. America was built on the idea of freedom, the idea that people have the freedom to choose what they want to do, and what to think. The world that the evangelical right wants to create is a world where people have the freedom to not smoke, not drink alcohol, not have visitors, not choose when they want to sleep and when to sleep. That’s the problem I have with the evangelical right and a lot of other movements who want their beliefs to be enforced on other people. What people should be doing is allowing people to have the freedom to chose what they do and don’t want to do. Not everyone believes the same as they do. Even the majority of Christians don’t believe in the same rules that the evangelical right do.

America is freedom, that apartment and the evengical right is the exact opposite of freedom.

Flickr photo curtosey of: Clemente

06 Apr

Criticizing America

Recently there has been a political storm brewing over Reverend Wright. This man was Senator Obama’s former pastor and his sermons are to put it bluntly rather controversial. Here is a video of one them receiving the most coverage from the media outlets, at the end of which he says “God damn America”. This has understandably caused a great many people to have some major problems with Obama being associated with this person. My focus here isn’t on Obama and wether Obama should or should not have disowned him or what he should have done. Though I think we have something to learn from Obama’s speech, specifically to quote Avenune Q, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”. Rather I want to focus on the controversy surrounding the Reverend himself over him criticizing America.

This is a rather controversial topic in America and one that I am admittedly hesitant to write about. For several reasons, first off politics is a highly emotional and personal topic, this causes people to feel very intensely about their particular point of view and ignore other points of view. This is easily seen by both the parties here in America which will routinely criticize one party for doing something that they themselves did just a few years earlier. Also you can see it in the screaming heads we have on cable tv that are more interested in yelling at one another rather than working through an issue. The second reason is that my opinion on this matter is itself rather controversial but obviously I feel a valid opinion.

So should Americans criticize not just a particular opinion, political party or should they also criticize America as a whole? Personally I feel yes for several reasons. America as a whole is both a society, a culture, and a the government as a whole. There are times when the society, the culture and the government as a whole all agree on something that people may feel is wrong. Who then is left to criticize other than America as a whole? A lot of well meaning Americans consider it unpatriotic to criticize the country. There reasoning behind it is that no matter what it still is your country and to criticize America then why are you here in the first place? Which in all honesty isn’t a bad reason, but I think it becomes faulty logic. One doesn’t have to agree with everything that occurs in a country. Part of our citizenship isn’t a requirement that you pledge to never criticize America. Citizenship says that you pledge to follow the rules our society has put into place and to quote Wikipedia:

Responsibilities of citizens

Citizens have the duty to serve in a jury, if selected. Citizens are also required to pay taxes on their total income from all sources worldwide, including income earned abroad while residing abroad (regardless of the duration of the residence) – but only beyond the first $85,700 in this case because of the foreign earned income exclusion.[1] U.S. taxes payable may be further reduced by credits for foreign income taxes. The United States Government also insists that U.S. citizens travel into and out of the United States on a U.S. passport, regardless of any other nationality they may possess.

Male U.S. citizens (including those living permanently abroad and/or with dual U.S./other citizenship) are required to register with the Selective Service System at age 18 for possible conscription into the armed forces. Although no one has been drafted in the U.S. since 1973, draft registration continues for possible reinstatement on some future date.

Citizenship does not mean that you give up an ability to criticize another citizen of America, a political party, or even America as a whole. One of the many freedoms this country gives us is the freedom to criticize America as a whole, the society, the culture, the whole government. There are times when this is appropriate. That isn’t to say that this is something that I feel one should do, day in, day out. But there are times when even I have felt that our society as a whole is participating in something that goes against our foundation, our Consution or even just plain logic. Criticism of something isn’t my way of saying we should throw out whatever I am criticizing or that it shouldn’t exist. It’s my way of saying that such and such is a wrong action. The reason people criticize something is to correct a wrong or perceived wrong action. If America as a whole is undertaking what I perceive to be a wrong action, that isn’t it my place to criticize the action and criticize the country for going along with the decision.

I personally don’t agree Rev. Wright, for several reasons, I don’t think it is the society as a whole that needs to be criticized also I feel that what he is doing isn’t criticism so much as it is trying to stir up emotions around his topic of race relations in America. I feel that debates should be less emotional and more logical that simply saying “God damn” x. That’s not a debate, however to quote Voltaire “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.” I will always defend someones right to freedom of speech, even when they disagree with me or even when what they say is controversial.