Iran to crack down on web censor-beating software

This is the front line in the battle between We The People and the Authoritarians. Don’t make the mistake of smirking that you’re not involved. The Iranian authoritarians are merely trying out the techniques which will be used increasingly against those of us to like to think we live in more “liberal” countries.

Check back in ten years time, after it’s clear whether they’ve succeeded or not. See how this comment reads then. If they did succeed, I suspect your first problem will be finding this comment or others like it.

The American Authoritarians are the key. If they decide to go down this road, we’re about to enter the new “dark age”. If they resist, we’ll still have the rest of the World to deal with but at least we’ll have a firm homebase to start from.

The signs are not good. The sheer extent of their illicit untrusted surveillance on their own citizens (not to mention those of us who aren’t) makes the Stasi look both primitive and restrained. With a budget in excess of most National Budgets, the American panopticon is well beyond the control of the politicians and has essentially become a law unto itself.

This is about as dangerous as the State can ever get. We are now at the mercy of the motivation of the current generation of spooks. If they’re the “good guys” they no doubt consider themselves to be, then we might be relatively lightly controlled. But I guarantee the Stasi thought of themselves as being the good guys too…

Visual Resurrection Technology Gets Beta

Warning: – before you dive in to the video – if Rap is not your foreplay, mute the sound, it’s not important. It’s the visual virtual human we’ve come to see.

We’ve moved from Alpha to Beta with this technology. The first Release Candidate should be so good that you will not be able, even in its presence, to distinguish it from reality unless you are close enough to try to touch it.

10 years?

The mobile phone as self-inflicted surveillance • The Register

I’ve been shouting warnings from my insignificant little rooftop about this kind of development for 9 years now
(new readers, start here)

I repeat:
…if we don’t impose our own rules on how the system works, we’ll be stuck with what Government/s want which – as the period since 9-11 has now conclusively demonstrated – is primarily a mechanism for increasingly authoritarian bureaucratic social control.

I’m beginning to wonder how much longer I’ll even be allowed to say that, out loud, in public…

Climate-change scepticism must be ‘treated’, says enviro-sociologist • The Register

this idiot is an example of the problem rather than solution. I happen to be a firm believer in climate change and the need for action myself. But the idea that you can bully the sceptics into conformity by charging them with irrationality is as scientifically and politically illiterate as most other authoritarian arguments.

The plain truth is that the entire edifice of science is constructed on intellectually strong but pathetically insecure foundations. Until we have an audited peer review system, there is no honest argument against rejection of almost any hypothesis purely on the basis that you are not satisfied that the evidence has been properly gathered, analysed and fairly summarised.

When we choose to believe a particular scientific theory at the moment, it remains an act of faith that the entire system has been conducted with appropriate integrity.

That being said, some such acts of faith are more rational than others. My own faith, for example, in the plausibility of the Theory of Evolution rests on the irrationality of the conspiracy theory required to cast doubt upon it. i.e. we would have to believe that several million scientists have collaborated, over a period of a hundred and fifty years, to fabricate the evidence and misrepresent the findings which flow from that evidence. It is, frankly, much easier to believe that the majority of relevant research has been entirely honest.

But that cannot be so glibly stated on either side of the Climate arguments. Personally, I tend to favour the credibility and motives of those who tell us that the Climate is warming and that we can and should do something about it. But I recognise that my preference, in the absence of an immutable audit trail, is no more than faith in the benign intentions of those researchers.

Flying like a bird | part 14/14 – YouTube

Inspirational. Even if it’s NOT real…

The web is currently divided between sceptics and believers. The sceptics are whingeing that it’s physically impossible. That’s because they’re assuming it’s human-powered flight. It isn’t. And no-one is pretending that it is. It’s servo assisted with battery-powered engines and controlled by Wii interfaces. All entirely plausible, subject only to the amount of battery power he needs and can carry – which would explain why he can only manage a couple of hundred metres – though that is about 3 times as far as the Wright Brothers first flight.

Clever stuff and the result of an engineering graduate’s 8 month R&D project. The whole 15 part story is on youtube. Well worth watching. This is the final part – the successful flight that made it all worthwhile.

I’d say he’s scored an A there…

If, that is, it’s real. And this story has become more interesting to me because it’s hotly disputed and yet impossible to either verify or refute. A classic Trusted Surveillance case study. It wouldn’t be an issue if he had a fully documented audit trail open to examination if disputed.

On the Up side, the project is plausible, as confirmed by the interview with Prof Bert Otten. I’ve been able to check him out and he really is a Professor of Neuromechanics at the University of Groningen.

On the Down side, Jarno Smeets is a pseudonym (hardly something I’m going to complain about) but one without any previous history. Like it was invented purely for the purpose of this project.

On the Up side, if it is a fake, I’d give him an A for that. The sheer amount of effort that has gone into it, fake or not, makes it, at the very least, a work of art.

On the Down side, if it was real, why on earth would he be so reluctant to repeat it, in front of the world’s cameras?

That last, for me at the moment, is the most significant fact. I can’t believe that anyone who had done that for real would be so reticent about repeating the feat. Indeed, failing to respond to the obvious demand would be bordering on the psychotic – given the huge appearance fees he could probably command, not to mention the obvious range of product endorsements he could subsequently select from. He would quickly and easily become a multi millionaire, which would in turn, fund his other no doubt equally ambitious projects. What kind of nutter would reject such an opportunity?

But even that’s not a clincher. He’s Dutch and the Scandinavians are notoriously prone to anti-commercialism. Think Linus Torvalds, ferinstance, who created Linux for free. Yes he has done well for himself as a result of the reputation that earned him. But that’s the point. He earned it. That could be the motivation of Mr Smeets…

Collusion

if you haven’t already, download and install “Collusion” into your browser now. Assuming that is, that your browser is Firefox. The rest of you must, I’m afraid, continue to live in blissful ignorance. At least spend a few minutes on this site to see what you could be learning about what the “owners” are already learning about you…

Collusion.

Banks and their Naive notion of Account Security

I’ve whinged long and often about that pathetic procedures that the banks consider to offer “security” to their customers. More often than not, all they do is present obstacles to legitimate use and alienate said customers.

Standup comic Andy Parsons just had a run in with his own bank which illustrates the problem much better than I can: Download and listen to this 3 minute gem from last night’s “Now Show”.