Authority V Liberty (Round 4,287,541)

Nobody would contest the desirability of knowing exactly what was in the killers’ heads and history; preferably before they managed to gun down fourteen fellow American citizens in San Bernardino in December. The FBI obviously thinks this is a poster child for their demand for American tech companies to provide back-doors into our encrypted gadgets.

If you’re remotely inclined to sympathise with the FBI, consider this.

It is not just conceivable but highly likely that within 10-20 years, we will have technology capable of ferreting that information out of anyone’s  head. And if you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at this.

or this

or this

or this

or this

or this

or this (added 2016-06-15)

I could go on. The point is that those links illustrate the amount of effort being put into digital mind-reading and the extent to which it’s already been achieved; and that some people are already fully aware of the potential threat, which makes ALL other Privacy invasions pale into insignificance. My 10-20 year time-frame is probably conservative.

I’ve been taking a close personal interest in this technology since Dr Larry Farwell had his 15 minutes back in 2003 when he  managed to get his Brain Fingerprinting evidence accepted by a court which resulted in the release of Terri Harrington, who’d, by then, served 23 years after being wrongly convicted of murder.

I wrote to Farwell at the time, suggesting that his technology could offer the “perfect bio-metric”. I postulated, for example, that it could identify me, uniquely, by observing my neural reaction to seeing a photograph of my late father.  No one else’s brain could simulate my reaction so no one else could pretend to be me. I also suggested that another obvious benefit would be to solve the most intractable problem in secure authentication; viz: access under duress. “Yes they are entering the correct password or revealing the correct retinal scan, but are they only doing that because someone is holding a gun to their head?”

I’m still waiting for a reply!

But it’s obvious that, since then, the technology (and America’s military interest in it) has been marching on. So, whether you like it or not, it’s on its way.  And the authoritarians who are funding the most meaningful research don’t share my views on the use of the technology to prevent privacy invasion. Quite the opposite. They see it as the greatest possible advance in privacy invasion and you can expect laws to change to permit it as we get closer to it. In a sense, that’s exactly what’s happening today.

Once digital mind reading is possible, it will be plausible to argue that, for example, airlines should be allowed to put every passenger through such a mind scanner, in order to ensure that no-one with evil intent against the aircraft is permitted to board.

That’s not my fevered imagination either. Comes from the man himself, almost certainly, given the date of that article, as part of his personal reaction to 9-11.

A first reaction, given my fear of flying, is that I might even think its a good idea myself. Particularly if the “duress protection” was mandated as part of the technology, so that no one could be coerced into having their mind read. And if there was a formally agreed set of questions to which our brain responses would be measured, with no recording of data, alarms raised only on appropriate warnings etc etc, I’d certainly welcome the assurance that, provably, no one sharing that flight with me, had any intention, when they boarded at least, of bringing the plane down.

But as we’ve seen, in some detail, over the past decade, that’s not the way Authority works.   Duress protection, independently citizen audited surveillance of the process and strictly limited application are never on the authoritarian agenda. Instead, they demand back doors, weak encryption, surrender of passwords etc etc.

Society is divided into two groups. The authoritarians and their followers form one group and they will argue in favour of allowing the mind-scanners and insisting that we all step through them.

Once we’ve conceded that for something as serious as air travel, it will be only a matter of time before they mandate it for (in roughly descending order) weeding out Pedophiles, Rapists, Tax dodgers, Copyright cheats,  Trolls, Recreational drug users and Dissidents. Then, depending which level of authoritarianism you live under, they’ll move on to apostates, homosexuals, marital cheats, speeding motorists and other ne’er do wells.

Those who understand Liberty and the nature of threats like the above will probably have to fight the authoritarians literally to the death in what may come to be known as Humanity’s Final War.

The current Apple battle is an early skirmish in that war.

Pick your sides now and be sure of a good seat…

Finally, if you want to hear an intelligent presentation of the current state of the relevant science, and some of the issues, check this out:

Authoritarians Attempt Coercion Against 45,000 Doctors

The imposition of a new contract by the Hunt responsible for NHS Policy is the single most authoritarian action by a western government since Reagan’s dismissal of 11,345 striking Air Traffic Control staff in 1981.

I never figured out how he got away with that. If there was ever a case for citizens owning and using guns, that was a true Casus Bellum.  But then I’m just a woolly liberal, woddoIknow?

The labour movement has all too often been led by donkeys who have the strategic comprehension of a parking meter, so it is not unusual for them to lose the fight against their capitalist overlords.

The BMA – the junior doctors “trade union” – might be a different proposition. Qualifying as a doctor does require above average intelligence and ability to focus. So perhaps we can expect a more intelligent response to the government diktat in this instance.

Here’s my suggestion for what it’s worth.

Every junior doctor who is not prepared to toe the employer’s line should, in planned coordination with every other similarly minded junior doctor, hand in their conditional notice to quit in, say, 3 months time, and simultaneously lodge a formal complaint at an industrial tribunal, for compensation in respect of their constructive dismissal. (For those unfamiliar with that term it is a charge against the employer that the employee was forced to resign on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour by the employer)

40,000+ simultaneous Junior Doctor resignations and tribunal cases would, I suspect, bring the Hunt gently jogging back to the table.


Paris – another day at the office for the Death Cult

One of the truly shocking, but no longer surprising, results of Friday’s attack on Paris, is the huge difference in media and political response when the victims are innocent western citizens; in contrast to the apparently much less important, though no doubt equally innocent, victims being more regularly slaughtered in the “developing world” (almost exclusively African and Arab)

Paris experienced its first attack of the year on January 7th. You almost certainly don’t need me to remind you of the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo leaving 12 people dead and the further 4 Jewish hostages killed in the Kosher supermarket as part of the same attack. But, be honest, do you remember what other, vastly more horrendous attack had begun just a couple of days earlier and was still in progress on the same day? It resulted in over 2000 dead. Embarrassed not to remember something on the scale of 9-11? If I remind you it was Nigeria, does that ring any bells?

The Guardian addressed this “differential reporting” issue in their report on that massacre

Friday’s attack on Paris was one of the worst this year. Over 100 victims is quite rare for a terrorist attack. How many others on that scale have we witnessed this year? Most comfortable western citizens haven’t a clue. The answer, in case you’re one of those, is 9 – including the horrendous lead example in the previous link. Friday’s attack is the 10th. How many of the others do we remember, with anything like the clarity of the Charlie Hebdo attack? Here’s a quick listing of the other 8:

142 killed in the coordinated suicide bomb attack on Mosques in Sana’a, Yemen (March 20)

147 were killed in the Garissa University College attack in Kenya (April 2)

146 Kurdish civilians killed in Kobani  (June 25-26)

146 more Nigerian civilians killed by Boko Haram in the same State as their earlier Baga massacre (July 2)

130 Iraqi shoppers were killed in the marketplace at Khan Bani Saad (July 17)

145 more Borno victims killed by Boko Haram (September 20)

102 Turkish protestors (mainly) were killed at a Rally 21 days before the recent Turkish Election. (October 10)

224 died in the bombing of Russian Metrojet flight KGL9268 over Sinai (October 31)

With the exception of that last attack on the Russian plane, which did receive a pretty thorough airing in the western media, I doubt if many of us will hold more than a vague awareness that these attacks are happening on a fairly regular basis.

So, with all those in mind, I’d be honoured if you’d join me in signing the online petition being organised by RootsAction. Its focus is on keeping these tragedies linked together in recognition that, one way or another, a large part of the human race is being threatened by the Death Cult calling itself Islamic State and its sundry sympathisers. It is also explicitly trying to insist that Paris and similar atrocities are not exploited as yet another excuse for comfortably profitable wars.

MIFT cannot kill or maim anywhere near as many as they would like to, but they don’t need to. A few dozen here, a hundred there, and they can cow entire populations into submissively accepting Police States who pretend they can offer protection when what they are truly after is control. Once most States have adopted that model, we’ll all live in a world where the Islamist Authoritarians begin to look not too different from our own Authoritarians. At which point I’d probably find it very difficult to write a blog entry like this.


Modafinil Works!

It’s official. Those of us who’ve been using it didn’t need persuading, but the moaning Minnies who thought we were imagining benefit or experiencing a placebo effect can now form an orderly queue to submit their apologies.

Hard core unbelievers should check this out.  If you’re not used to ploughing through academic papers or just don’t have the Modafinil to hand, here’s the plain english version and here’s the obligatory Wiki page which, among other things, will confirm that it’s been in medical use (for treating Narcolepsy) since 1986. No directly related deaths, addictions or lingering side-effects ever since.

It’s not quite the perfect wake-up drug I’ve been searching for the past 40 years because it takes longer than I’d like to kick in. That’s about an hour and I really want something that works in seconds and doesn’t get you high. High is for playtime. I’m happy with the drugs we have for that.  When I’m working, there are times when I’m desperate for something just to clear the fog.

Others, presumably even more desperate than me, have not shied away from using the more dramatic “uppers” like Cocaine or Amphetamines in the workplace. These will certainly wake you up or keep you awake, but they can’t be said to improve or even maintain your ability to think straight. In fact I would argue that one of the most serious dangers of Cocaine, excluding overdose, is that it makes you believe you’ve taken a brain booster, when it actually impairs cognitive function and, amongst other things, promotes the kind of risk taking which has been blamed, in part, for the financial meltdown in 2008.

Had the wankers bankers been on Modafinil, I suspect that calamity may have been avoided. Unfortunately it’s difficult to set up a double-blind placebo controlled study to test that hypothesis.

I’ve been using it consistently since 2009 and I can fully endorse the findings of the current review. Took me about a year to work out how to use it optimally. Was far too enthusiastic to start with. In short, try to limit usage to one tab a day and not more than four or five days a month. Otherwise you develop a tolerance and the law of diminishing returns comes up and bites your ass.Other useful tips: take it on an empty stomach or you may not notice any significant benefit (or it’ll take a lot longer to kick in). Give it at least 15 minutes to get into the bloodstream before you pollute it with food. And, providing you’re not on other drugs, you can roughly double the effect (or halve the typical dose – to 100mg – which is what I prefer) by drinking about half a pint of grapefruit juice with it.

It keeps you awake (and lucid)

It has two major benefits. The first and most dramatic enables me to maintain concentration on a difficult or complex task for much longer than I can without its aid. I only use it intensively once a year and that’s for the week we’re producing the PFL bulletins (don’t ask). That entails a week where we get about 2-3 hours sleep a day, spend the daytime gathering news and all night creating a satirical rag loosely based on any gossip, rumour or occasional facts we’ve managed to harvest. We then speculate wildly and invent any other facts we need to fill the four pages we’re committed to publish.

That used to grow increasingly painful as the week went on, the sleep deficit builds up, the creative juices dry up and the proof-reading becomes less and less important, or even possible. One of the most horrendous nights of my life was on the last night of the annual gig. The rest of the team had passed out or gone to bed and I’m left there on my own at 5 o’clock in the morning, unable to see straight or keep my eyes open; with a blank page to fill, no material, the layout and proofing to do and a deadline in 2 hours, by which time I had to drive the copy 8 miles to the printers (this is in the days before printers routinely had email). I’ve still got no real idea how I survived that night. Sort of thing that could make you believe in Flying Spaghetti Monsters – or even see them! (Other durum deities are available)

Nowadays, we pop a pill at about 1 am and we’re totally and reliably functional right through till about 7 am when we email the copy to the printers and we’re just about comfortably numb enough to catch 90 minutes of zzzs before we’re up again to breakfast, zap over to collect the print and deliver it to the punters. We’ll take another tab to get us through till about 2ish, leave the day shift in position, head back to the Safe House, perform any running repairs, routine housework, t-shirt printing and all that shit, see if we can squeeze in another hour in the arms of Morpheus before returning to collect the day shift and beginning the evening rounds. Rinse and repeat for what used to be 5 days, (now reduced to 4)

We’re certainly still “feeling it” by the end of the week, but Modafinil removes all the stress and makes it doable. More importantly,  makes it possible for us to carry on enjoying it; which, at the end of the week, is the only reason we do it in the first place. (The punters will never figure that one out; they’ve spent nearly 40 years trying to calculate our ulterior motives. So have we.)

I think the results show in the quality of the output but others would have to judge that; though in some ways its obvious – like the dramatic reduction in speeling missteaks and other tapas.

and it helps you to sleep!

In “normal” times, I generally try to limit my use to when I really really need it. Like when I’ve not had a good night’s sleep but I still have work to do. Which brings me to the second major benefit. NOT the fact that it keep you awake in such situations but the exact opposite. It can help you sleep better! Why? Because it’s an excellent cure for “anxiety insomnia” where your despair at not being able to get to sleep feeds back on itself and keeps you awake.

That used to be a regular problem for me (approx twice weekly) but Modafinil has banished it completely. How so? Because just knowing that, even if you don’t get the sleep you need, you won’t suffer, because the Modafinil’s there if you need it, once again, completely removes the stress. So now, if I find I’m not drifting off to sleep as normal, I take it as an opportunity to try to focus on some on-going problem or project I’m working on. And, in that relaxed, semi-focussed state, I usually drift off to sleep quite naturally and, even if I don’t, I’ll have gained some useful insight into the aforementioned problem, before getting up, dropping a tab and spending most of the next day performing slightly better than normal. Hence, I average about one or two tabs a month for the rest of the year.

Unless, that is, I’m required to drive for more than a couple of hours, which is quite rare at the moment. I usually pop one at the beginning of a long drive, just to fend off those head nodding moments and keep me fully alert on the road. Incidentally, I’d feel a lot safer in a plane, knowing that the pilots had similar access to Modafinil on demand.

So, in summary, seriously good shit with no significant side effects or long term adverse consequences. Strongly recommended but use sparingly, only when you REALLY need it.

Only problem is, last time I looked (about 18 months back) it was becoming more difficult to buy and the sites selling it looking ever more dodgy. It’s supposed to be “prescription only” and the authoritarians have been clamping down on the online providers to the extent that its difficult to know which ones you can trust anymore. So if anyone knows a reliable and trustworthy “dealer”, lemme know…

Ignorant White Bitch Blames Black Culture For Police Attacks On Blacks

I make no apologies for the headline. That was my second and more restrained choice of language. The Faux News “journalist” is referring to this incident, in case you haven’t seen it

in which a white cop (Ben Fields – now “ex cop” I’m delighted to observe) assaulted a black female teenage school kid in front of her own class when she failed to comply with his demand to accompany him after he’d been called in because she was disrupting the class.

Such is US Authoritarian culture that the brainless morons who form their world view through the corrupt prism of  Faux News actually think that enforcing school discipline is an appropriate use of the Police force. And such is US Police Culture that it doesn’t even occur to the uniformed bullies that physical attacks are only justified in the course of either self-defence or 3rd party defence. Violent coercion is considered a routine and acceptable policing method.

Hence, far from Black Culture causing such routine abuse by the police, it is far more appropriate and accurate to argue that Police Culture is a major factor in shaping US Black Culture which has to come to terms with the fact that the State permits its enforcers to treat black citizens as “suspects by default” to the extent that black men are

twice as likely to be killed by police than white men

twice as likely to be unarmed when the Police kill them

6 times as likely to end up in jail as white men – even though for some of the main crimes they are jailed for, like drug possession, they’re actually less likely to commit

and more likely to be in prison than in paid employment.

I am continually amazed at the relatively passive acceptance by the black American community of this centuries old racist aggression by the State and its agents – which has, if anything, slightly worsened under the “control” of a black American President. Among the oppressed minorities with a strong case for armed insurrection, American blacks are definitely in the Premier League.

Graham Hancock would be spinning in his grave…

Fortunately, however, he’s not dead.

I hope he spots this little confirmation of his hypothesis from Supernatural (2005)

Genre Bender

just watched these on Jools. The only genre I can put them in is ‘king brilliant.

If you liked that, go and wrap yer luggoles and i-oles round this full concert in Heidelberg

Catchem while you can. I expect rapid linkrot…