Monday, July 21, 2014

FBI-backed terror plots

FBI pushed Muslims to plot terrorist attacks: rights report

"The rights group charged that the FBI often targets vulnerable people, with mental problems or low intelligence.

"It pointed to the case of Rezwan Ferdaus, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison at age 27 for wanting to attack the Pentagon and Congress with mini-drones loaded with explosives.

"An FBI agent told Ferdaus' father that his son "obviously" had mental health problems, the report said. But that didn't stop an undercover agent from conceiving the plot in its entirety, it said."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Critique of Separation: Adventure time

Been meaning to watch Guy Debord's Critique of Separation for a while. Glad I did in the end - watch it if you're curious about the net weaved around us by culture and our media. Embedded below:

Critique of Separation (English subtitles) from 1000littlehammers on Vimeo.

Choice quotes:

"Childhood? Why, it's right here - we have never emerged from it."

"Our era accumulates powers and imagines itself as rational. But no one recognizes these powers as their own. Nowhere is there any entry to adulthood."

"The world of the rulers is the world of the spectacle. The cinema suits them well."

"It is necessary to destroy memory in art. To undermine the conventions of its communication. To demoralize its fans."

"We have invented nothing. We adapt ourselves, with a few variations, into the network of possible itineraries. We get used to it, it seems."

While on holiday, I finished reading a book on encounters with Chinese hermits. It seems very relevant here - as it goes through, it touches on the Cultural Revolution, the "red dust" of modern civilisation (something I'm trying to find more specifics on), and the bending of religious symbolicism to touristic ends - the creation of a spectacle of religion.

Hermits try to escape the "adventures" imposed on them by a society with very specific aims in mind. In the West, this gets captured and branded in itself - think of "Escape to the Country", for instance. Dropping out is a lifestyle, but lifestyles are themselves a product.

What adventures can we really say we are living out?

Fireworks filmed with a drone

Got round to watching an video on the Inter-net. This is another example of quadcopters delivering me another case of OMG: I'm not interested in actually owning one, but quadcopters are probably now up there with p2p tech in terms of important-20-year-tech-stuff for me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Google+ loses the nymwars

Looks like Google+ finally lost in the nymwars.

Wah wah wah. Too late. Disposable content needs disposable identities. Now f**k off, G+.

(Shit, still need to get off Blogger.)

Default Law: Subverting democracy in the face of terrorism

TBH I'm on holiday and haven;t got the time to go into details of emergency laws being passed. But two things strike me as pretty significant:

1. Nobody seems to be discussing safeguards in legislative process. As the BBC article mentions:
A bill's passage through the Commons usually takes a matter of weeks or months, although there are well-established procedures for fast-tracking bills when MPs believe that it is necessary to do so.
So under our democratic system, it's OK to basically route around the democratic system if the belief of the representatives say otherwise.

Some may say that we hand our electoral power over to our representative not as the power to vote, but as a token of trust. I'd say a democratic system which doesn't put in safeguards against inefficient and minimal debate and evidence is pretty lacklustre. Which comes on to...

2. Emergencies create their own default law. In other words, it doesn't matter what a specific law pertains to - if it relates to a "higher purpose" ("safety" in this case, but any significantly hyped meme could be substituted) then the details can be assumed to be mere bagatelles. It becomes about the intent of the law, not what gets trampled in its way. The details will default to the intent.

That intent stems from two things - the threat of a specific incident (such as a building being blown up), and an emotional response to the idea of a form of power (such as people threatening to blow up buildings).

In other words, our MPs are happy to bypass their democratic role when the idea of terrorism frightens them. They are happy to skip their responsibilities on a responsive whim.

Not only that, it is easier for them to do this. It is easier to take the safe route at whatever cost. "Nobody ever got fired for voting for more surveillance."

Remind me again how exactly we don't bow down to terrorist threats? If subverting your entire legal system isn't bowing down, I'm out of ideas.

"If we delay we face the appalling prospect police operations will go dark, that trails will go cold, that terrorist plots will go undetected.
"If that happens, innocent lives may be lost."