Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gertrude Stein

From the Futility Closet ...

"When Bennett Cerf published Gertrude Stein’s Geographical History of America or the Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind in 1936, he included this “Publisher’s Note”:

"This space is usually reserved for a brief description of a book’s contents. In this case, however, I must admit frankly that I do not know what Miss Stein is talking about. I do not even understand the title.

I admire Miss Stein tremendously, and I like to publish her books, although most of the time I do not know what she is driving at. That, Miss Stein tells me, is because I am dumb.

I note that one of my partners and I are characters in this latest work of Miss Stein’s. Both of us wish we knew what she was saying about us. Both of us hope too that her faithful followers will make more of this book than we were able to!

Interviewing Stein on his radio program, Cerf said, “I’m very proud to be your publisher, Miss Stein, but as I’ve always told you, I don’t understand very much of what you’re saying.”

She said, “Well, I’ve always told you, Bennett, you’re a very nice boy, but you’re rather stupid.”

Public Service Announcement

"Outdoor cats risk injury, disease, or getting hit by cars and millions of small birds and and other animals are killed each year by outdoor cats.

Your outdoor cat can find plenty of entertainment indoors.

For more information and a Teachers' Guide see the website of the American Bird Conservation Society at www.abc.org.

Make the world a safer place for cats and birds - keep your cat indoors."

Broadcast on Richmond Independent Radio (WRIR) on 18 December. What the fuck! Haven't the Americans heard of cat-flaps! This is ridiculous!! Meeoww!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reply from MAFIAA Fire

Hey Angus,

Thanks for contacting MAFIAAFire!

Sure, we are most happy to answer questions about the addons, and tech people can check them out for themselves as well as it's open source.

>   The immediate impact of this is that I cannot select a country-specific proxy, for example a UK proxy allowing me to view BBC programming via the BBC iPlayer 

No you cannot, and for good reason. It would make it easier for particular countries to stomp down on proxies, this way they dont even know if their countries proxies will be used for sure.

UK proxies are anyway avoided because we want to make sure everyone can get to sites like Newsbin if they need to, which is supposed to be banned in the near future.
We do not use French proxies for the same reason.

>  A repressive regime, China or Syria or Israel, can set up a proxy server (or many) and MAFIAA Fire selects it randomly  

It is possible, but unlikely.
The reason it's unlikely is we will "cycle" the proxies, so even if one of their proxies end up on our list, it wont be there long because on the next cycle a new bunch of proxies end up on the list and the old are out.

We randomly chose our proxies from many places of the internet (which we don't disclose where), the chance that the Chinese setup a proxy, put it in the right place for us to find it, it passes all our tests and beats out the other 1000s of free proxies to come on our list are pretty tiny.
But yes, it is possible just as given enough time a monkey sitting at a typewriter can accidently type out one of Shakespeare's entire plays.

>   is MAFFIA Fire selecting its proxies randomly Or is it filtering which countries, ISPs etc are legitimate for hosting proxies - in which case which countries and which ISPs? 

Yes, we do pick proxies randomly and yes we do filter proxies depending on which country they are hosted.
France, Denmark, Italy, UK and a few others cannot come on our list. If SOPA passes the US proxies will also be excluded.
Basically, the countries that offer proxies to the full, uncensored internet end up on our list.

Whats your blog address?


Thursday, December 22, 2011


The Futility Closet is a wonderful source of aphorisms of which my regular readers know I am particularly fond. Two more below ...

“Sleep is death enjoyed.” — Friedrich Hebbel
“Character is that which can do without success.” — Emerson

... which got me thinking "What exacly is an aphorism". Yes, I know how ro recognise one but I don't know how to define one. So off to Wikipedia and it tells me.

"An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic (concise) and memorable form.[1] Aphorism literally means a "distinction" or "definition", from Greek ἀφορισμός (aphorismós), which is from ἀπό (apo) and ὁρίζειν (horizein), meaning "from/to bound". The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. The oft-cited first sentence of this work (see Ars longa, vita brevis) is:

"Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult."

SOPA,MAFIAA Fire, Mobile Phones and more

Lots has been happening on Internet access and censorship in the last few months.

Western/Northern governments have been praising the attributes of social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, in the last few months as northern African and Middle Eastern goovernments topple and fall.

These very governments tacitly support the efforts of organisations and activist groups, such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), Anonymous etc in their work to set up proxy networks which allow users in "non-democratic regimes" to read Western/Northern "propaganda" websites.

The efforts of EFF through its promotion of Tor, Privoxy etc have been admirable in the extreme. The latest offering is MAFIAA Fire which allows you to connect to any Internet site anonymously and automatically via proxies. It avoids the configuration difficulties of the Tor/Privoxy solution but has the disadvantage that you cannot choose your proxy. The immediate impact of this is that I cannot select a country-specific proxy, for example a UK proxy allowing me to view BBC programming via the BBC iPlayer (see previous posts) ... but I see problems here. A repressive regime, China or Syria or Israel, can set up a proxy server (or many) and MAFIAA Fire selects it randomly ... is MAFFIA Fire selecting its proxies randomly Or is it filtering which countries, ISPs etc are legitimate for hosting proxies - in which case which countries and which ISPs?

The very same networking sites are being used by activists in the cities of the Americas and Europe in the current Occupy Wall Street protests, in the UK to avoid police kettling strategies (Sukey), by international relief organisations in natural disasters (Ushahidi).

As the police and other other security agencies across the world, from Western/Northern governments to those "repressive" regimes the former express the wish to do away with the latter, all are increasingly dependent on gathering intelligence from social networks as their own "secure" communications networks are failing ... we learn that the UK police network's whistle-and-bells new VHF radio system failed dismally during the recent disturbances and individual police officers had to use their personal mobile phones ,,,

"Among the failings highlighted by the [Police] federation, which represents 136,000 officers, were chronic problems, particularly in London with the hi-tech digital Airwave radio network. Its failings were one reason why officers were "always approximately half an hour behind the rioters". This partly explained, it said, why officers kept arriving at areas from where the disorder had moved on.

The Airwave network was supposed to improve the way emergency services in London responded to a crisis after damning criticism for communication failures following the 7 July bombings in 2005.

It is being relied upon to ensure that police officers will be able to communicate with each other from anywhere in Britain when the Olympics come to London next summer. The federation wants a review into why the multibillion-pound system collapsed, leaving officers to rely on their own phones.

"Officers on the ground and in command resorted, in the majority, to the use of personal mobile phones to co-ordinate a response," says the report.

Ironic that during the July 2005 London Underground terrorist attacks large sections of the London mobile telephone network were shut down.

As Alex saays "And it's the UK, for fuck's sake. We do radio." http://yorkshire-ranter.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-you-hear-me-now.html

At the same the Western/Northern governments want to curb internet freedom, under entertainment (film, music, sex etc) industry (RIAA and MPAA to name just two of hundreds) pressure.

So the Western/Northern governments seem to be in a Catch 22 and cannot resolve it.

The latest is this ...

"The New America Foundation's Open Network Technology Initiative, a US State Department-funded project to build an "Internet in a suitcase" that can be dropped into repressive zones where protesters need network access and the state is trying to take it away. The project -- a very complex piece of technology -- has gotten to the point where it needs a live test, and lucky for the Open Technology engineers, Occupy DC is just down the street, and that's a great testbed.

The idea is that the system will automatically set itself up. Drop a unit near another unit and they’ll start talking to one another and trading data. Add another and all three will talk to one another. Add a thousand and you can cover a whole city. Then if one of those routers is hooked up to an internet connection, everyone on the network can connect. If that connection disappears, users can still try to update an application like Twitter or send e-mail to the larger internet and the outgoing notes will go into a holding pattern until the mesh network finds another connection to the greater net.

That’s harder to pull off in practice, even under ideal conditions — as anyone who’s tried to link even two Wi-Fi access points in their own home could attest. Now throw in the variables that the access points should work in urban and exposed environments, as well as protest zones like Tahir Square. You’ll want to protect dissidents with encryption and deniability. And you don’t want your beta-testers to be arrested or even killed because of a software bug. All together it’s the kind of challenge engineers like to call “non-trivial”.

“Finding a place to use the system is difficult,” Meinrath said. “Thank God for the Occupy movement.”

So the USG  is using its democratically legitimate Occupy Wall St movement which it diametrically opposes to testdrive cyberweapons it can use against countries/regimes it opposes? And if I am in Egypt, Syria, China, I can then bittorrent download what the fuck I like ...

... but hang on wasn't the US just getting heavy with China about "intellectual piracy"?

Oh and I forgot the Stuxnet virus...! Backfire!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Study

Thanks to Futility Closet ...

“A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” — Samuel Johnson

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” — Plato

“Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.” — Oscar Wilde

Monday, December 5, 2011