Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Social Preferencing Note: Wired


For the last decade or so, the only print publication that my household has consistently maintained a subscription to has been Wired. It's hands-down my favorite monthly magazine, something I look forward to finding in the US Snail box by the door.

BUT!

There will be no more Wired renewals from this household so long as Wired continues to shill for the state versus Bradley Manning.

A complete reversal, a public apology and a substantial financial contribution to the Bradley Manning Support Network might get that subscription back in play.

The sooner the better, because my weekend to-do list includes going through the latest issue (which seerendipitously has a great article on the "collar bomb" robbery that I recently discussed with my son) and notifying every advertiser I can find an email address for that I plan to negatively preference, within reason/convenience, companies that do business with Wired.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

By way of disclosure ...


I have lots of friends and associates; in this I consider myself much blessed.

I also consider it a basic obligation of disclosure to point out that by being my friend or associate, one may well be at risk of prosecution under US Code, Title 18, Chapter 115, §2384.

That risk exists because I would likely be convicted of -- if ever charged with -- violations of the same title, same chapter, §2383 and/or §2385 and/or §2387.

No, I am not herein "admitting guilt" to violations of said portions of the US Code.

For one thing, I don't recognize the US Code or said portions thereof as binding upon anyone who hasn't explicitly agreed to be bound by it.

For another, the things are so broadly written that anyone who votes, runs for public office, solicits votes (especially the votes of military personnel) or joins a political party is arguably in violation of all of them (if you don't think an election is a "means of force or violence," you're not living in the real world). So it's not like I'm uniquely in legal jeopardy here.

And finally, anyone who's observed the operation of what passes for a "court" in the United States in recent years knows that these institutions are, for the most part, mere extensions of the prosecution teams with only pro forma claims to just or even nominally impartial proceedings (although rare cases of jury nullification do sometimes act as a corrective). I hold such institutions in far too much contempt to "plead" if charged, let alone preemptively/prospectively admit the "guilt" which they assume from the start.

All things considered, maybe being my friend or associate isn't really any more dangerous than being anyone else's. In the declining 21st century United States, legal entanglements seem to be pretty much the equivalent of a straight-up roulette bet, at least if one lacks the "get out of jail free card" issued to members of the political class. But I still thought it worth apprising you of the risks.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The spirit of Christmas


h/t CLS --


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A rare agreement with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Missouri loses a US House district due to the new census figures. Tony Messenger and Bill Lambrecht of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tentatively predict -- and I non-tentatively agree -- that the existing 3rd District will be the one to effectively disappear.

That's Dick Gephardt's old district, and spin aside, it hasn't been a "safe" Democratic district in a long time. Gephardt held onto the seat the old-fashioned way: Knocking on doors and mobilizing organized labor support. Since he retired, Russ Carnahan rests uneasily on the throne, nearly losing to Republican Ed Martin -- a second-string player at best -- last month.

The lopsidedly Democratic city areas of the third will be used to bulk up the even more lopsidedly Democratic 1st District. The more Republican-leaning suburban/rural parts will be used to try to keep the existing 2nd (Todd Akin) and 9th (Blaine Leutkemeyer) districts Republican, and to pad out the "safe" GOP 8th (Jo Ann Emerson).

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

What Mike said!


Over at NoState.Com:

I, Mike Gogulski Tom Knapp, hereby pledge that if Julian Assange should call upon me in need of a place to stay, I will provide it to him with no questions asked, indefinitely, and with the highest degree of security and confidentiality I can provide. I’m easy to get a hold of.

Now it’s your turn. Simply replace your name with mine and publish. Link here if you wish, but publish.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Is it game on, then?


The late 20th century stereotype image of the defecation intersecting with the rotating blades -- popular revolt, coup d'etat, or state suppression of either -- is the interruption of regular television and radio programming, usually with "patriotic music" substituted for that programming.

I generally eschew alarmism, but what we've seen over the last week or so may be the opening shots in the 21st century's Internet version of the same phenomenon.

In less than ten years, the US has gone from something resembling due process of law, to the USA PATRIOT Act and "National Security Letters," to "Joe Lieberman's office called -- give them whatever we think they want."

COICA is stalled in the US Senate, but "Homeland Security" seized dozens of domain names on spurious "intellectual property" grounds anyway.

Whether Amazon and Paypal acted under government pressure (as seems obvious) or on their own hook (as they claim) to suppress Wikileaks is an interesting question, but it's a distinction that doesn't make a lot of difference -- freely or under compulsion, they've sided with the state and against the truth and the people in a big and high-profile way.

In the US, the right would love nothing more than to suppress the left (including the libertarian left) under the guise of "national security." President Barack Obama is objectively allied with the right on this, if for no other reason than that he'd like to get the real left off his ass, or at least shut them up, on foreign policy and civil liberties issues.

If Amazon and Paypal have already swung into action to serve the state in its new war -- the war on YOU -- what makes you think your web host, payment processor, et. al won't?

Unless you were smart and located that kind of stuff offshore (and possibly even if you did), you're vulnerable. If you think you're not in violation of any Terms of Service, you obviously haven't read them -- ToS is in the eye of the provider, bubba.

Don't be surprised if you see pro-freedom web sites disappearing from the web over the next few weeks as their hosts suddenly "discover" ToS violations that only became violations with the change in political climate.

And if not sites, perhaps authors. How hard do you think it Homeland Security would find it to sweet-talk the major ISPs into closing the accounts of customers who have (for example) accessed Wikileaks?

I could be wrong, but I think that the times are about to get ... interesting.

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The stakes go up


First Amazon, now Paypal.

This one's going to be harder to effectively respond to in terms of disentanglement, at least for me. Ideas, anyone?

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Getcherbookshere (maybe)


My first order of business, having left Amazon, is to find a new preferred bookseller -- both as a reader and as an affiliate seller.

For now, I'm going with Powell's Books:


I say "for now," because I may go with more than one, and because I'm dedicated to brutal honesty:

I'm buying a book right now from Powell's and it's taking awhile.

Setting up a customer account isn't very intuitive. It takes you to a login screen, with a username/password button. It has checkboxes for "I have an account" and "I'm a new customer," but if you pick "I'm a new customer" and click the "login" button, you get an error.

The trick is this: Check the "new customer" box, put your email address in the username field, and hit "enter." That will take you to account setup.

One of the things I'm looking at in auditioning booksellers is the eBook area, and Powell's has around 300,000 e-titles of which more than 17,000 are DRM-free PDF.

What's really cool is that they have a book I've been looking for in e-format (the first volume of Darcy Richardson's Others), which wasn't available from Amazon for Kindle), and in that DRM-free PDF format to boot!

What's uncool is that I bought it about half an hour ago and it's still marked "transaction pending" in my account on the Powell's site. Instant gratification is a big part of eBook purchasing, at least for me.

As a new "partner," I'm pleased to see that my purchase was instantly recorded for commission purposes. As a new customer ... well, I want my damn book. 51 minutes now. Download still not available. I'll update on that as it resolves. [Update: I was away from the computer for awhile, came back, and the book was available. The download went smoothly and the DRM-free PDF is quite nice. I'll probably order something else soon, to see if the delay was a one-time thing or "the usual."]

On the print side, I've purchased from Powell's a time or two in the past. The service has been quick, friendly, reliable and the books have arrived as advertised (they do new and used). So check them out, anyway.

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Rage, rage against the dying of the light


Reproduced verbatim from an article by Punk Johnny Cash at Gonzo Times:

How To Access WikiLeaks

After their domain name has been siezed you may be wondering “how can I access WikiLeaks?” Early this morning WikiLeaks posted their direct IP on Twitter encouraging us to get the word out there. Their url has been taken, but we can still access information directly. We must spread this information, provide links, mirrors and keep the information in the public eye.

@WIKILEAKS: Free speech has a number: http://88.80.13.160
via Twitter / WikiLeaks: WIKILEAKS: Free speech has ….

Please help get this information out there to the general public. The state is doing all they can to deny access.

The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops.

You can be assured that this is only the beginning of the states war on truth and WikiLeaks.

Please save the IP address http://88.80.13.160.

Also Google still has a Cache of the site that can be found here.

Please re-post this on your blogs to help get the word out there.

Other Ways To Access WikiLeaks:

In case something happens, here are some mirrors etc.. via: http://mirror.wikileaks.info/

Real mirrors on different IP Addresses

We need more real mirrors. If you have information on these please send it to me. If you have further sources to access the information also please forward it to me so I can post it all here. You can reach me here.
  • wikileaks.info – Mirror hosted in Switzerland [62.2.16.94]
  • wikileaks.se – Mirror hosted in Sweden [88.80.6.179]
  • nyud.net – Mirror hosted in the United States [129.170.214.192]

Domains Pointing to:

Important Wikileaks Links

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Taking Amazon at their word ...


Amazon.com's spokesperson says (as reported by the Wall Street Journal) that the company's reasons for booting Wikileaks from its servers were half ideological, half just plain false, and not due to pressure from the US government:

It was "inaccurate" to claim that pressure from the U.S. government or large-scale attacks by hackers caused the company to discontinue its service of WikiLeaks, said Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener in a statement ...

The false part:

WikiLeaks "doesn't own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content," one of the stipulations of Amazon's contractual terms, he said.

There are no "intellectual property" implications here. US government documents aren't protected by copyright. Whether "nobody" owns them or "everybody" owns them is an interesting question, but what's absolutely certain is that Wikileaks is not violating any "intellectual property" rights by making them available. Herdener is, at the very least, prevaricating wildly there.

The ideological part:

Mr. Herdener said that Amazon's terms of service also require that content "will not cause injury to any person or entity." Yet he said "it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy.

So the spokesperson for the largest bookstore on earth publicly claims that words are dangerous and can hurt people and that Amazon wants nothing to do with words like that. Chalk up a new high for cognitive dissononance.

And for hypocrisy -- as of a few minutes ago, Amazon is still selling The Communist Manifesto, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, Mein Kampf, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and In Praise of Public Life: The Honor And Purpose Of Political Service.

If words really are dangerous and really can hurt people, well, each of the aforementioned books can be plausibly linked to more deaths than the entire Wikileaks ouvre has been so far.

So much for Amazon being the "victim," as some opponents of a boycott -- at least one of whom for some reason felt the need to email me with an invitation to go fuck myself for even temporarily dissociating myself from Amazon while I awaited their explanation -- have claimed.

So far as I'm concerned, my negative social and economic preferencing of Amazon has now transitioned from temporary to permanent: I just don't care to do business with the company any more. Your mileage may vary, and that's fine. You can even bust my balls about it if it makes you feel better.

If anyone wants to do something techy to support dissociation by Amazon affiliates, some Blogger and WordPress scripts for removing/replacing Amazon links in an automated manner would be really cool. That's a task I'm not looking forward to doing manually.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Please Don't Feed the Amazon


Amazon.com has apparently booted Wikileaks off of its hosting services. Antiwar.com is calling for a boycott of Amazon.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a long-time Amazon customer (pretty much since they started) and an affiliate. I'm not a big customer, but I've been pretty loyal. I'm not a big affiliate, but since I've made a little money from them, they've presumably made a little money on me.

Earlier this morning I:

- Notified Amazon that until I see an explanation from them, I'm taking my shopping elsewhere (hint: It's Christmas shopping season, which probably accounts for the bulk of my Amazon purchases each year); and that unless that explanation is damn good and pretty quick in arriving, I'll permanently dissociate myself from them as both a customer and an affiliate.

- Donated €3,50 (a little under US$5) to Wikileaks in lieu of a $3.99 Kindle purchase I'd been planning to make (I recently downloaded the Kindle app to the kids' Windoze machine, have downloaded some free books and purchased a couple, and was about to give it a favorable review).

On the off chance that Amazon will come back with a believable "wait a minute guys, it's not like that at all," I'm not going to start the arduous task of combing through a hundred thousand posts or so (close to 1,700 here at KN@PPSTER, 90,000+ at Rational Review, etc.) and removing Amazon links just yet. But please, don't click on Amazon links here, and don't buy from Amazon, at least for now.

Speaking of all this, my latest piece at C4SS is about the Wikileaks "diplomatic cables" saga. Check it out.

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