2/09/2006

Bloganoia

I had another post ready, but decided to abort my snarkasm today in favor of addressing Bloganoia. Its not a matter of blogger-aggrandizement that people are reflecting on censorship, as the myopic troll will tell you.Do I think that someone is targetting me out of thousands? Hell no. But it is possible that technology permits a selective persecution of certain communities,in certain ways. I am not suggesting that Blogger did system wide maintenance just because I posted the pope, thats not what we are saying. But do not let yourself fall into the debate about how important middle aged armchair opinionators are, to do so misses the big picture. Mike at Empire has a post today about blogs and homeland security that caught my eye. Now we have been episodically following the Big Brother Google-plex story- and many discussions came out of last weekend's blogscrew. It's time to force a technical discussion.(post continued)A commenter at Mike's stated that surveillance was done in the sixties too, and seemed to suggest that sifting through communication would be impractically laborious. For people, with paper and phone calls and fuzzy hidden camera pictures developed from umbrella imbedded spygear, yes!

But I think we need to reconsider our sense of "laborious" given the implications of what big search engines like google and yahoo have told us, and innovations in two key areas- data storage capacity and search capability. NEVER before have we had the ability to so quickly collate and cross search. Never have we had the ability to mega-archive billions of bits of information that can all be sifted electronically to look for patterns. Can blogs be used for more than bitchfests? You bet. I've said this many times, and its pretty basic.If I want to communicate with Kvatch for example, I need only retropost the date two months and use two terms Kvatch will know to help him find the post via search. I call the post "Coffee, Bagels, and My Newspaper." Kvatch knows to look through blogs using "COFFEE+BAGELS". And behold, he knows that I will meet him at Denny's wearing a Dallas Cowboys shirt.


Is anyone else blown away by the modern cell phone, with music, video, television, camera, voice recorder, walkie talkie, radio, podcasts, internet, mobile blogging, phone email... Think of how quickly things are moving along!

Now I recall when EZ Pass came out to help us breeze through the toll lanes on the Throgs Neck. My dad, conspiracy collector, told me it was yet another way to archive my whereabouts. We had many good laughs about the future of government tracking. And face recogntion software on crowd scenes at Phish concerts. And nano-bots in baby immunizations.

But how funny is it when our imaginations are not so wild? When things are imbedded into your browser to spy on what you? When fuckwads like Sony install software into music cd's without your knowledge that leaves a back door vulnerability for malicious viruses on your computer? Did they consult with people, or were they just worried about thwarting possible piracy? Their OWN goals.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are dealing with people concerned about the means to THEIR end. It might be to keep you safe, but it might be to continue to paralyze dissent by infusing communities with paranoia and worry. They don't have to spy on you, the mere SUGGESTION of spying is often sufficient to silence many people. What if my view costs me a job? What if I am exposed as a radical, a dissident, a lunatic? What if my free speech HURTS ME?

I used to think that as long as one followed the law, one would be exonerated on these matters. But we are dealing with the talons of the lawless, and things we collectively do not understand. Let's work on trying to understand.

And let us not be afraid. As any bully can tell you, fear is the weapon. FEAR is what enables them to be everywhere, peeking into your communication. FEAR is what stops people from speaking out. Speak out anyway, and embolden those that have much to lose to speak out, and blog truth everywhere.

42 comments:

Earl Bockenfeld said...

ADVISE "looks very much like TIA," Mr. Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes in an e-mail. "There's the same emphasis on broad collection and pattern analysis."

But Mr. Sand, the DHS official, emphasizes that privacy protection would be built-in. "Before a system leaves the department there's been a privacy review.... That's our focus."


Built-in privacy in a spying system sounds like an oxymoron to me. The older Echelon which uses word/phrase trigger searches on ALL voice, email, and internet traffic is invasive enough without adding ALL bank records and medical histories.

Their is an old joke about a man looking for his billfold under a street light. Someone comes up and asks him where he lost it. He replies he lost it across the street but it's easier to look for it under the light of the streetlight.

In a digitial world, sucking up all the digitial data is fairly simple, except for the quanity of data. And the cost of storage keeps going down and the search technology keeps improving.

There is little proof of any payback for the cost and loss-of-privacy for all this NSA spying, but the gov does it because it wants to and it can. The terrorist plans that were foiled was due to the intelligence/skill of a lady border guard at the Canadian border. Leaders don't like to trust the skills of intelligent people with technology aids and backup. High tech programs and machines being run by anyone off-the-street is more sexy.

Add-in the computer data error rate, garage-in, garage stays around forever, and the most important question, who will use the data and for what purpose will it be used in addition to preventing terrorist attacks?

Kvatch said...

Mikevotes scooped me. I'm so jealous.

I'd just add to Earl's excellent comment, that the EFF is not correct. Advise doesn't just look a lot like TIA. It is TIA, or at least everything that TIA intended to achieve, kept quiet and out of the public eye.

And now...Kvatch is off to hunt for claundestine messages hidden in the Internet. :-)

tp said...

Scooped you? Did he have your consent? Is that legal in the state of Georgia?

Earl Bockenfeld said...

kvatch, I have it on the highest authority by someone I can't remember who it was, that Al Queda is sending maps, plans and orders buried inside viagra spam. You might want to check it out.

enigma4ever said...

I couldn't get to the post conitnued part- but I do think it is a discussion worth having...and exploring. Also Yahoo it turns out gave information this week that led to the detainment of a person because of his writings by the Chinese- and it was on CNN today- but not posted on their site yet...We are living in precarious times, Ayn Rand would have had a field day with this era.... ( and by the way your word verification is all blurry today- it looks like barfed alphabet soup- so blurry I will never get it verified...)

And after last weekend I think Blognoia is a real thing...

I see the Humble Frog has joined your posse over here- way to go....

tp said...

I must really be in the inner circle... I sure get a lot of that spam! (well, the shitbox does, and I ignore it...but maybe I should read it? Might be educational???)

Lily, quiet seeker, supposedly said...

Enigma,

Kvatch was the main Noose shareholder. So that made him our boss. Now my goal is to take over Blognonymous.

I republished and it seems the link is there now, who knows what happened.

Hairball.

Anonymous said...

maybe I can help relieve a small part of bloganoia. I've perceived a certain amount of resentment against anonymous commenters even to the point of paranoia. So I wanted to ask point blank if you all would prefer no anonymous comments? For me, maintaining privacy is a big concern (yes I'm the type that actually contacts companies I deal with to force them to drop my name etc from their lists). But I can understand that in the blog world, it starts to look like I'm not a real person or worse that I'm some kind of troll or snarky liberal-baiting conservative. I'm not & I don't think most anons are. I think we've just been burned a few times & therefore are vigilent in protecting our identity. And I think most people are intelligent enough to be able to tell the difference when they read a comment. There is a certain amount of freedom in being truthfully anonymous. Now that said, I want to say I have learned a lot at sites like yours, much creative thinking that has helped my restless mind. But if you prefer anon's like me would just lurk & not comment, I will honor your feelings with no hard feelings. D.K.

Puma said...

It's not the anonymity itself, it's the anonymous commenters who use that anonymity in order to avoid having to take responsibility for what they say. You know, those trolls who are too wussy to put up their own site and run around talking shit on other people's sites - other people who do have the spit to stand up for what they believe. There are a large group of idiots out there who love to cause as much hurt and nastiness as possible, posting insults and abusive slurs without having to risk anyone commenting on their own personal postings. I don't have a problem with someone just using the name "anonymous" myself, and I never have a problem with thoughtful, respectful comments, whether they agree or disagree with me.

Brandon said...

"It's not the anonymity itself, it's the anonymous commenters who use that anonymity in order to avoid having to take responsibility for what they say."

Or the virtually anonymous. You know what I mean. Someone who will come on, who is clearly a blogger, but who won't give you something that looks like a real identity, or in other cases, who won't even reveal the blog they write for.

I hate debating people who come on under some moronic screen name, who are little more than flamethrowers, but who get upset when you correct them on their fantasies disguised as facts. Yes, from time to time an anonymous comment will make sense, and I wish I could find the person who wrote it to congratulate that person, but usually it's just a pile of crap that we could do without. And yet I don't like to shut them up either. I've been known to delete personal attacks which contribute nothing to the debate, but I'm even getting away from that. How's THAT for conflcited?

Personally, I don't care if the feds are listening to me or not. BUT, let's face reality here. Just knowing that someone is listening, or might be listening, will have a chilling effect on free speech. Yeah, this little group right here is highly political. We're highly motivated here. But your average American might think "oh, I better shut up or someone might be listening to me." Or worse yet, "I don't mind giving up freedom for security." Again, government has a long history of using personal dirt when legal dirt won't suffice--a point I have made here before.

Do the names Freiherr Werner Von Fritsch and Field MArshal Von Blomberg ring a bell? They were generals who opposed some of Hitler's policies and who were promptly smeared with sexual scandals that had been collected by the Nazi Government. Does the name Richard Nixon ring a bell? Good grief does the name George W. Bush ring a bell?

It's getting late and I don't have a lot of time. I'll expand on these ideas in the future. For now, I just want to go home, take some asprin and crawl into bed until this headache goes away. See yah tomorrow or whenever.

Lew Scannon said...

Jeez, what did you put on your Lucky Charms today?
This is all quite reminiscent of an anonymous comment at my blog someone left last week about how the government set up blogs to track dissenters. Perhaps it's just their way of deciding who to send to those FEMA relocation camps that KBR is building. See you all there!

enigma4ever said...

Lew I will invite you to my detainment Barrack anytime- it will be the one with windowboxes, even a garden, and Out Back REALLY Rude Grafetti on the back walls- devoted to the Dicktator....bloganoia- hell no...just an attitude adjustment....

I like my Lucky Charms with Chocolate Milk, and that works better to dip the Twinkies.....
( It 's Earl Nite so gotta go get the table set...pass the Charms please)

Kvatch said...

Kvatch was the main Noose shareholder. So that made him our boss. Now my goal is to take over Blognonymous.

I'm now a minor shareholder--hoping Lily will continue to pump the value of my dimunitive "frog-like" stake. :-)

Lily said...

Lew,
What exactly do you object to? I skipped my Lucky Charms today.

I have no problem with anonymous comments, in fact, the only time I ever deleted a comment was when it was full of insinuating nonsense about bloggers that had nothing to do with anything going on.

I understand D.K. your reasoning and you are of course always welcome. There are many people in real life that disagree with me right to my face, I don't have a problem with that either. Its about discussion, and I learn from you guys every day. I have a lot to learn and like many of you, I simply have a desire to understand what is going on.

If something about this post or any other sounds nuts, step up. Bring it on. Dissent is helpful and necessary.

lily (ok, shutting up now) said...

Oh- minor point. Some people do not have blogs to leave a link to. Some people that read this are just people I know, they don't have blogs to 'leave'. Some email their thoughts. Some email their questions. many people do not comment at all, as with any blog. Some send hateful mail about hell. Whatever. Some people think others will judge their comments or pounce on them. We can all get along.

Wadena said...

Oh, come now.....who of us does not know that we who oppose the oppressors are simply acting out a crazed and self-destructive contest to see who gets disappeared first?

We MUST keep track of each other to see who won.

Lew Scannon said...

Sorry, I got up on the wrong side of the couch this afternnon.

Anonymous said...

styles are recognizable by people and not really by computers, at least for the time being, and your anonymousdk comments will not be mistaken for those of others after a good read-through...randomness in screen names and intentional misspellings can also throw a monkey wrench into attempts by computer programs to isolate individuals and are probably also useful against the less clever google searchers...sum_maniac, f'r'instance...this is a cross post of a thought posted on the site mentioned in the original post

Lew Scannon said...

Enigma,
thanks for reminding me-it's Earl night. The last one for two weeks while the Winter Olympics are going on.

see, I got up such the wrong side of the couch, I couldn't even spell afternoon

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

Dammit, Lily, you're onto our evil plot yet again! Drat!

That said, I need to dispel once and for all that I am a tool of the NSA. The fact of the matter is I'm a tool of the Illuminati, of which the NSA is merely a subsidiary.

Oh, and yes, we are SO watching you (all of you.)

Omnipresently Reporting,

Rex

Anonymous said...

so...let's see if I understand...if I'm polite & have something germane to add to the discussion, it's OK to be anonymous. But if I feel rude or smarmy, I should register? Just so I grasp the ground rules. Remember you're talking to someone who won't even allow the bank to send me an ATM card or PIN. D.K.

Earl Bockenfeld said...

Their is an old joke about a man looking for his billfold under a street light. Someone comes up and asks him where he lost it. He replies he lost it across the street but it's easier to look for it under the light of the streetlight.

Wow, in this earlier comment I mentioned this joke to make a point that never got into the comment.(Damn computers, always losing shit!)

Osama Bin Forgotten is a tech-geek guy using satellite phones and such, until our experts told the press that we were tracking his phone use. Then he dumped the phones and started using couriers instead. He's not using phones but we're wiretaping phones cause we have all these people listening and a world-wide grid of tracking systems. Which is why the NSA turns over such poor and so few leads to the FBI.

I hope the joke makes more sense now!

What happens to the tapes of all the intercepted calls? Sibel Edmonds knows but Asscroft has her silenced, almost.

Lily said...

"so...let's see if I understand...if I'm polite & have something germane to add to the discussion, it's OK to be anonymous. But if I feel rude or smarmy, I should register? Just so I grasp the ground rules."

DK: To be clear,thats not what I said, I can only speak for me. What people do on their blogs is their own business. Some people blog because they just love to read their own text. Some people want feedback and appreciate it, but don't appreciate trolls that are just rude. There are many motives for blogging. I can only speak for mine, which is to connect with others on a topic. Or laugh about them once in awhile.

I think everyone has something to say. Worst case scenario- you ignore what fails to speak to you. Nobody else should contrive your interaction, or demand that you be uncomfortable with your boundaries. Strut your anonymous bad selves. I don't care.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lily, for your patience in explaining to me. Guess I was having an insecure day. It all started when I caught a news scroll on TV this AM "Justice Dept says they are almost ready to begin using software that will track all web use, emails etc for terrorist clues". Anyway, thanks again for helping me understand. D.K.

Earl Bockenfeld said...

D.K. There is plenty of reasons for paranoia, but commenting anonymously doesn't do very much to protect yourself. Your internet ID is your IP address and your internet provider which are tossed back and forth as you surf the internet and use email. The law, the government, and nosey well-connected people, can get your surfing habits either from the history page on your browser, which is one reason people, of interest, get their computers taken and examined. The second thing they do is go to your service provider and make them give up your internet surfing history. If you'll notice, Goggle is the ONLY US company that hasn't voluntarily cooperated with a government request about users.

Protection step #1 is to surf through a proxy server, and as an added layer of protection, use a proxy server located outside the US. The proxy server swallows your personal ID and allows you to surf the web using one of their IDs. To locate the proxy services now available do a goggle search for proxy servers and investigate what different ones can do for you.

Protection step #2 is learn about PGP or any other service that encryptes email. You can encrypt email on your computer using the PGP program, or you can subscribe to a service that encryptes the email you send and receive. Why encrypt? Sending plain text emails is just the same as sending postcards through snail mail. If other people use your computer, or your computer is on a network, anyone could hack into your email account and read your msgs OR send emails under your name.

If you're already doing any of these things, excuse me and ignore this post.

Anonymous said...

earl, maybe I was happier in my ignorance. I'm wierd enough about the computer anyway & now you've gone & added to my fears. Well, #2 does not really apply to me, but #1 I'll definitely look into. It's funny because in person I maintain a fearless attitude & don't take crap from anyone, but just feel so exposed on the computer. Thanks for the tips. D.K.

lily said...

Earl,
But google does record every gmail, search query, and destination, just as yahoo tracks your groups, eamil and searches. Google has admited that they save everything to help them provide better service. Yahoo, under its privacy fine print, has an option to opt out of tracking.
You are right that nobody is anonymous. Many IP programs do change IP addresses constantly but I don;t think this helps. Fact is, your records are stored by your provider and there's little that can be done, although I suppose proxy in some countries might.

Right now Google is talking tough. But what happens to your info five eyars from now when Google is not the biggest on the block? How tempting might it be to sell the archives? Or turn over info? Right now it would be an image mistake to violate privacy but who knows how long they will care.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Great post, as usual guys. I enjoyed Mike's blog too. This is such an important issue and I am glad we can talk about it and share concerns on what is going on in Washington.

some_maineiac said...

earl, nice, informative comment and all points are true...whether or not one goes to those lengths to maintain privacy is up to their own level of fear about where they're surfing or what they're reading and writing...since we're only dealing with words and ideas and dialogue in these places, and thoughts haven't been outlawed (yet); i don't personally carry a lot of fear that the men-in-black are going to want to talk to me about my views anytime soon...and if they do, i'll make sure they can read and remind them of the meaning of "no trespassing" and "private property" and the existence of the 2nd and 4th amendments to the consitution...then i'll probably entertain them for a while on my porch with witty banter and we'll have a rollicking good time...maybe some target practice, i'm pretty good with a .22

some_maineiac said...

as a coda to my last comment, i am reminded of yet another hilarious quote by HST, during a taped conversation with Keith Richards (talk about an incomprehensible, mumbling, dialogue!) in which the good doctor proclaims:

"i'm an innocent man! i can do anything i want!"

tp (I do not have a blog) said...

Keith Richards! Thats about as enlightening as listening to Ozzy.

Earl Bockenfeld said...

Lily,
Google is not perfect, just when compared to all the other telephone and service provider who rolled over on their customers and said to the gov, here take all the data you want about our users, and we'll even give you a fibre-optic cable from our backplane, so you won't need to leave your office to spy on our traffic. Google will probably give up the search data if the gov gets a court order.

The proxy server is better than you suggest. The service provider has a log of your web traffic, but with a proxy server, your traffic would go to the proxy server and then STOP. The gov would have to get to the records of the proxy server to learn where you surfed, and it would be harder if the proxy was out of the country. As you said the email is stored and cached, but it would be a hassle for anyone, even the NSA, to read it if it was encrpyted. Not impossible for the NSA, but if you do it, they would inspect it, and if most people did it, they would be swamped with the work to do it. Which is the idea, the only way to really get the NSA's nose out of everybodies business is to make it too costly, time consuming and a waste of resources. It's too easy now the way it is.

tp said...

Agreed, on the proxy servers.

My concern is about the ability to 'look' onto a remote hard drive, like when they can see a cache of pirated music. Wonder how to get around that stuff. Firewalls?

Puma said...

*waves to Earl*

You are quite correct in your suggested methods of washing your web history - I recommend it myself. I would add only a couple of things. First, that it is critical that you maintain a firewall, an updated anti-virus, and your computer clean of spyware as well. Those vulnerabilities are all well-known and well-used avenues for handing out your personal information. Also secondly, I am all for encrypting email, but the problem of implementing it is unfortunately huge: in order for your emails to truly remain encrypted, your recipients must also use encryption - and it's a bit difficult to get Aunt Mabel to understand the significance, much less learn how to install it and use it. And teaching Uncle Percy how to encrypt his hard drive would be a task as well, since he freaks out if a shortcut on his desktop gets deleted. (And don't even get me started on what happens when they forget the encryption password. "What do you mean you can't retrieve my thesis from the hard drive?")

Earl Bockenfeld said...

Hi there Sarah,

I think many of the problems of encrypting email could be handled by BAT files and regular backups, also mail clients software could make it easier. The hangup now is that encrypting your email would draw negative attention to yourself, but as a protest to MSA spying, if 50% of the US email traffic becoming encrypted would send a message, give us a little privacy, and put a strain on NSA.

"tp" you should follow Sarah's advice about a firewall, always updated anti-spyware software, and always updated anti-virus software. Spyware software is probably the way most hackers spy on the files on your system, or turn your computer into a robo-proxy servicer for their devious purposes.

I would recommend a hardware firewall, with NAT (network address translation) most of them have it, a software firewall, like zonealarm which can block some IP addresses and allows a click to block all broadband service to/from your computer. Some good spyware programs, like Spy Sweeper will alert you when a website is messing with your system settings. When you are getting slammed with spyware, you can do a three-step test to pin down the troublemakers. Scan your system spyware free, visit a suspected site, then go back and rescan your system. The spyware hits will indicate just how dirty that particular site is, then feel free to bitch at the site about what they're doing, report them to their service provider and blog or comment about it.

Companies regularly do, what hackers do, messing with other people's computers, that gets hackers sent to jail for ten or more years. Remember when the NSA and WH were dropping cookies on their visitors. Cookies are the least nasty thing that you can catch on the web, but they do little for you except for the sites that require subscription registertations to visit.

"tp" I hope some this helps.

some_maineiac said...

earl, your comments on proxy servers ring absolutely true with me...i have used them in the past...some interesting info 2 or 3 entries down about "honeypot proxies" and novice sys-admins when doing a google search for the term...many proxies are indeed run by novices and drop off the public lists when they figure it out...

tp (i do not have a blog)...actually one enlightening comment discerned from the mumbling was one about how painters have an empty canvas with a frame to fill, writers have empty reams of paper to fill with words (or a blank computer screen, my addition) and musicians have silence to fill...

some_maineiac said...

and as a follow-up to the most excellent info provided by earl and sarah, use Firefox for browsing!!! it is free, open-source and constantly improving and has built-in pop-up and spam blockers and add-ons like selective javascript blocking and "tamperdata" if you like to screw around with the underlying HTTP headers to determine how secure the sites you visit really are! haven't used it yet, but plan to delve into its potential....

lily said...

Plus, my blogs look better in firefox, as do most, especially three column!!!! IE really messes with pixels!

Self serving endorsement!!!!

some_maineiac said...

hahaha, those who use Firefox please try typing "about(colon)mozilla" in the address bar (without quotes and substituting the parenthetical symbol) for a nice Easter egg!!!

Anonymous said...

Why should we listen to you, you could be crazy????

Anonymous said...

I have just found your blog and had an interesting read. If you like come and visit mine sometime spyware blockers

Anonymous said...

Looking for information and found it at this great site... .com+cialis adipex side effects lamictal interaction with alcohol order adipex weight loss pill blackberry calendar software Oldsmobile warranty information Virus protection email prescription online bontril adipex and soma dicounts free porn brown dickey jackets meridia online gambling Searchbuy adipex erectile dysfunction doctor in miami how does wellbutrin help to quit smoking Guide adipex phenetemine isuzu rodeo

Graphics by Lily.Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to New Blogger by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro