Professor-rat's Blurty
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Professor-rat's Blurty:

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    Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
    3:42 pm
    Fred and Kim Kagan were key intellectual architects of the surge that saved the Iraq war and defeated the forerunner of the Islamic State the first time around–and were ringing the alarm bells long ago about the descent of Iraq after the U.S. withdrawal, when few were inclined to listen.

    Now, they have published a proposed strategy for defeating the Islamic State. I recommend reading the whole thing. You will be struck by its modest tone. What they propose is much more robust than President Obama’s strategy, yet, even then, the risks are high and the prospects of success uncertain. A few key points.

    People speak loosely of how we must rely on the pesh merga and the Iraq army on the ground in Iraq. The Kagans argue this is entirely wrong-headed. The key potential ally, and the only one that will be accepted in the Sunni communities where this battle will be fought, are the Sunni tribes:

    Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups such as ISIS can only flourish in distressed Sunni communities. They attack every other religion and sect, but their bases must be in Sunni lands because their ideology is an extreme, exclusionary interpretation of Sunni Islam. Doing anything to al-Qaeda — defeating, disrupting, degrading, destroying, anything else — requires working with the overwhelming majority of the Sunni communities within which it lives and operates. Those communities have shown their distaste for the ideology and the groups that espouse it, rising up against them in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, and almost everywhere else they have appeared, except Pakistan.

    But al-Qaeda brings more than ideology to the table. Its affiliates are extremely lethal and use brutality to maintain their positions among populations who reject their ideas. The Islamic State has been assassinating Sunni tribal leaders who allied with the U.S. and the Iraqi government during the Awakening in 2007 and pre-emptively killing those it fears might ally with us again. It has also been cleansing the areas of Syria it controls of potential Sunni opponents in an attempt to nip any reprise of the Awakening in the bud. Sunni populations cannot expel al-Qaeda groups simply because they reject their ideas. They need outside help to defeat these well-organized, well-armed, skilled, and determined zealots. They have already shown that they can and will fight against
    al-Qaeda groups with that help, and that they either cannot or will not fight effectively without it.

    The core challenge facing the U.S. in Iraq and Syria, therefore, is the problem of enabling the Sunni Arab community stretching from Baghdad to Damascus and Turkey to Jordan to defeat al-Qaeda affiliates and splinter groups and persuading that community to rejoin reformed states in Iraq and Syria whose security forces can thereafter provide the help it needs to keep al-Qaeda from returning.

    Meeting this challenge requires centering operations within the Sunni Arab community rather than strengthening Shi’a and Kurdish forces that are alien and threatening to that community. A strategy of basing in Kurdistan and Shi’a Iraq and providing air support to Kurdish troops and ISF forces intermingled with Shi’a militias and Iranian advisers may achieve some initial successes, but will ultimately fail. The prospect of Kurdish domination over Ninewa Province, including Mosul, and of the permanent Kurdish seizure of Kirkuk, could well spark an ethnic Arab-Kurdish war. ISIS has been working actively to stoke those ethnic tensions inorder to provoke precisely such a conflict, which would allow it to embed itself more deeply among an embattled Arab populace. Merely strengthening Iraqi Security Forces that are rightly seen as Shi’a dominated and militia-infiltrated may also achieve short-term gains, but at the cost of setting conditions for an even larger Sunni Arab mobilization against perceived Shi’a domination that would create new opportunities for ISIS or a successor group to establish itself.

    The Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria are the only local partners who can be decisive in the fight against ISIS and JN. Our strategy must focus on making direct contact with them, coordinating our efforts with them, building their strength against ISIS, and finding out the terms on which they would be willing to reintegrate into reformed states in Iraq and Syria. They are the pivot of the entire effort and must be at the heart of every phase of our strategy.

    The Kagans are clear-eyed about the opposition in Syria:

    The moderate elements of the opposition have been especially degraded because they are fighting against both the regime and ISIS. They have also received far less international support than either of their opponents. JN [the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria] has penetrated the opposition thoroughly and interwoven itself with opposition forces across the theater. JN has close operational ties with other Salafist-jihadist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham (HASI), although many other opposition groups also cooperate with Jabhat al-Nusra in battle without necessarily being aligned with JN. This includes an array of groups ranging from members of the Islamic Front to groups falling under the umbrella of the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA).

    Jabhat al-Nusra’s fighting prowess keeps it central to opposition efforts in the southern Deraa and Quneitra fronts as well as the Hama and Idlib fronts. It is also influential in the fight for Damascus. Jabhat al-Nusra is quietly cultivating influence within rebel governance and shaping the opposition where it can, although it appears that most opposition groups are cooperating with JN opportunistically rather than ideologically.

    Their strategy requires the commitment of substantial ground forces:

    It is impossible to identify precisely the forces that will be required for all of Phase I, let alone for subsequent phases, before operations have commenced. The activities recommended in this paper will likely require the deployment of not more than 25,000 ground forces supported by numerous air and naval assets. The bulk of those forces will likely be comprised of various kinds of units supporting a much more limited number of Special Forces and other assets deployed in small groups with tribes, opposition forces, and Iraqi Security Forces. This plan does not envisage U.S. combat units conducting unilateral operations (apart from targeted attacks against individual enemy leaders and small groups) or leading clearing operations. It requires some combat units in the support and quick reaction force (QRF) roles described above.

    And there will be substantial risks:

    . . . the dispersed footprint of U.S. troops required by this plan and the immaturity of the theater support infrastructure exposes US soldiers to a high risk of capture and kidnapping. Individual U.S. teams are likely to find themselves threatened by overwhelming enemy force at times. Casualties, hostages, and beheading videos are extremely likely. These risks must be mitigated through the deployment of robust helicopter support and quick response forces. Such forces will greatly increase the total “boots-on-the-ground” requirement, which many will find distasteful. It is essential to keep in mind, however, that withholding those forces and capabilities in order to keep the U.S. troop presence inside Iraq and Syria below some arbitrary number enormously increases the risk to the small number of Americans who would be actually operating with indigenous forces.
    Monday, September 15th, 2014
    11:15 am
    Everyone a mint
    Subject: Re: Tim May;Anarcho-phony,cheap fraud and despicable ,
    From: mattd
    Date: 2001-12-25 4:07:17

    >>| Anarchism is a variant of socialism > > an7ar7chism (nr-kzm) > n. >
    The theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive > and
    undesirable and should be abolished.

    Which is self-referential (it basically says that even anarchism will
    oppress). <<

    Indeed.Especially where delegates are not rotated and revocable.See jamesd
    for the dangers anarchism in practise.
    The Friedman/May "anarcho-capitalist" crock of shit would opress like
    HELL.BE AWARE! Dont let him get away with all thet CALCer crap here.Its
    ahirstoric,amoral,unrealistic insanity.

    >>so7cial7ism (ssh-lzm) > n. > Any of various theories or systems of
    social organization in which > the means of producing and distributing
    goods is owned collectively > or by a centralized government that often
    plans and controls the > economy. > > Pick one, stick to it.
    Which raises an interesting question. How do you get everyone to behave the
    same way with the same levels of consideration under anarchism without some
    sort of universal standard (a central organization)? Who gets to decide it?
    What happens if somebody decides they don't want to play nice? How do you
    pay for it? <<

    APster.Central organization,summits,world federations are all scalable and
    not to be feared as long as all democratically elected delegates are
    revocable and rotated.Its not rocket science.Everyone a remailer,(they will
    be essential,as will crypto)Everyone a mint,presumably when all the drug
    war prisoners are released there will be room for fraudsters.
    Everyone an APster,.Justice by consensus complements then overtakes common
    law.Everyone a jury.
    Warlords in the SW Quadrant? Put together a 'sandline' army and knock them
    out.Commo's opressing bears?
    Lets all vote on nuking commie HQ.Operation soft drill International,only
    there will be no more 'nations'.
    Can you dig it? CAN YOU DIG IT? Anarchy is not just a job; Its an Adventure.

    Thursday, September 11th, 2014
    3:57 pm
    Deer Park
    Mr. President, ISIS Is 100 Percent Islamic
    By Daniel Pipes
    September 10, 2014
    In a televised address on how to address the Islamic State this evening, President Barack Obama declared the organization variously known as ISIS or ISIL to be “not Islamic.”

    In making this preposterous claim, Obama joins his two immediate predecessors in pronouncing on what is not Islamic. Bill Clinton called the Taliban treatment of women and children “a terrible perversion of Islam.” George W. Bush deemed that 9/11 and other acts of violence against innocents “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”

    None of the three has any basis for such assertions. To state the obvious: As non-Muslims and politicians, rather than Muslims and scholars, they are in no position to declare what is Islamic and what is not. As Bernard Lewis, a leading American authority of Islam, notes: “It is surely presumptuous for those who are not Muslims to say what is orthodox and what is heretical in Islam.”

    Indeed, Obama compounds his predecessors’ errors and goes further: Clinton and Bush merely described certain actions (treatment of women and children, acts of violence against innocents) as un-Islamic, but Obama has dared to declare an entire organization (and quasi-state) to be “not Islamic.”

    The only good thing about this idiocy? At least it’s better than the formulation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (known as CAIR) which has the nerve to call the Islamic State “anti-Islamic.”

    In the end, though, neither U.S. presidents nor Islamist apologists fool people. Anyone with eyes and ears realizes that the Islamic State, like the Taliban and al-Qaeda before it, is 100 percent Islamic. And most Westerners, as indicated by detailed polling in Europe, do have eyes and ears. Over time, they are increasingly relying on common sense to conclude that the group is indeed profoundly Islamic.
    Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
    1:28 am
    The divvy-up
    Five people in a situation where three have been caught stealing 20K from two. To fix this its decided the three guilty parties contribute 6,666 each to make a pool of 19, 998. That is then divided between the two victims.
    9,999 each!
    This may be too neat for some who could decide to pay some 'Danegeld" - a kickback of 2 or three K here or there. Crime's not supposed to pay but of course it does.
    Thursday, September 4th, 2014
    9:37 pm
    Collateral Rape
    Julian Assange’s war on women Published: September 4, 2014
    In his fight against sex-crime allegations, Julian Assange showed no concern for the well-being of women around the world.

    Let’s call his four-year misinformation campaign “Collateral Rape.”

    His human-rights lawyer — before he hired George Clooney’s fiancée — argued that it isn’t illegal to trick a woman into unprotected sex. If a woman objects to sex without a condom, if the man uses force to pin her down, it can’t be considered a crime if she gives up and gives in, according to the lawyer, who now handles human-rights issues for the United Nations.

    Assange has much support in developing countries, and his supporters laughed at the idea that a man could be required to use a condom. But women’s right to say no to sex without a condom is crucial to the AIDS epidemic, population control and women’s health.

    Assange founded WikiLeaks, a website for whistleblowers. In April 2010, it released “Collateral Murder,” a documentary on U.S. Army gunmen killing two Reuters journalists, whom they mistook for Iraqi combatants.

    That August in Sweden, two volunteers for WikiLeaks went to police. One said she agreed to sex with Assange, but only if he used a condom. She said he had difficulty having sex with a condom on. The next morning, she said, she awoke to find him having sex with her without a condom. The other woman said she wanted to have sex with him initially, but he was rude and rough. She struggled as he lay on top of her, pinning her arms and forcing her legs open. He finally asked what was wrong, and she said she wanted to use a condom. He let her retrieve one, but she believes he broke it intentionally.

    In July, a Swedish court upheld his international arrest warrant, saying there was probable cause of rape and molestation. The Australian has avoided extradition by holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He recently suggested he would leave “soon,” but apparently not for Sweden.

    His misinformation campaign began early. When the accusations first became public, Assange lied, saying he didn’t know who the women were. Next, he suggested the Pentagon had set him up. A supporter published an article blaming the CIA. His British attorney at the time called the case a honey trap (but later said he was misquoted). He argued Assange’s only crime was “sex by surprise,” which was illegal in Sweden. Actually, no such law exists. A British court ruled that the accusations against Assange would constitute rape and molestation in both Britain and Sweden.

    The most important misdirect has been the suggestion that Sweden had no interest in prosecuting him until he released government secrets. His Swedish lawyer claimed no one tried to interview Assange before he left for London at the end of September 2010. In court, however, he said he realized later that the prosecutor had contacted him in an attempt to interview Assange, but the lawyer wasn’t able to notify Assange. A British judge called this “a deliberate attempt to mislead the court,” and the Swedish Bar Association issued a warning to the lawyer.

    There was discussion about Assange returning in October 2010. Meanwhile, he was feuding with associates, who wanted more time to go through documents on the Iraq war, in hopes of protecting people. Assange went ahead and released the documents that month. After he failed to return to Sweden, an arrest warrant was issued in November, and Assange then released the U.S. diplomatic cables. His celebrity was cemented.

    His lawyers have never presented evidence of conspiracy. In a British court, the human-rights lawyer said he wasn’t accusing the women of any wrongdoing, and he didn’t challenge the idea that the women found the sex “disturbing.” By then, however, Assange supporters had harassed the women, publishing their private information, and driving them into hiding.

    Governments aren’t the only source of human-rights abuses. Supporters of WikiLeaks need to acknowledge that women’s rights are human rights, too.

    Suzie Siegel was a reporter and editor at The Tampa Tribune from 1988-1999. FROM
    12:39 pm
    Nxt then maidsafe then Ethereum
    State of the horse-race

    "...Just when people were getting used to the idea that bitcoin might not be a boom-and-bust fad destined for failure, entirely new applications of the technology have joined digital currency on stage.

    Crypto 2.0 – also know as cryptography 2.0, decentralized applications, or, popularly, as bitcoin 2.0 – is the application of block chain or distributed ledger technology to things other than digital currency. The block chain offers the ability to facilitate decentralized ownership and store, transfer and process information in a decentralized, programmable way. Many consider that innovation to be the true value of this technology.

    In May, New York-based investment firm Ledra Capital took to Twitter to crowdsource a list of what kinds of information the block chain could be used for. Currency transactions, of course, topped the list. But, it was followed by things like stocks, bonds, mortgages, land titles, gun permits, contracts, votes, bets, trademarks, data storage, domain names, proof of authorship and much, much more.

    As Robby Dermody, co-founder of Counterparty, told CoinDesk:

    “Bitcoin can be used to pay for things like a cup of coffee, but that’s not bitcoin’s ‘killer app’. To the average customer it’s just as easy to pay with their credit card. A killer app would need to offer massive advantages in another area.”

    A community of developers and entrepreneurs recognize this notion and have been busy building out many crypto 2.0 concepts. Dominik Zynis, the former head of business development at Mastercoin, commented on the significance of this movement to CoinDesk, saying:

    “We ought to be paying very close attention to crypto 2.0 because bitcoin has redefined how we launch web services.”

    Zynis believes crypto 2.0 companies are laying the foundation for a new generation of “secure and scalable Internet applications” that will be more resilient to hacking, fraud, scalability and privacy problems.

    Bitcoin’s role as a digital currency is still a work in progress, both at the code and implementation level, as well as on the consumer and institutional adoption side. Still, the wider impact of distributed ledger technology is beginning to rapidly take shape. Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, illustrated the movement’s broader vision to CoinDesk, adding:

    “I think now might be the time when we have just enough cryptographic, crypto-economic building blocks to finally make a proper shot at advancing a radically different vision for Internet architecture and society.”

    Rise of the decentralized exchange

    A year ago it might have been hard to believe that in just 12 month’s time, a publicly traded company would be openly exploring the possibility of launching a cryptosecurity on a decentralized asset exchange. CEO Patrick Byrne has been outspoken in his support of digital currency, and he recently told CoinDesk that Overstock intends to figure out how to launch a cryptosecurity so other companies can use their system to raise funds. Overstock published a wiki on 29th July that currently details 12 organizations that have either launched decentralized exchanges or are building them.

    Among them, Counterparty, NXT and BitShares have exchanges that are operational right now. Counterparty has been live since January and NXT’s Asset Exchange since May, while BitShare’s platform is only a few weeks old. Each exchange’s implementation differs in various ways, but they all share common features, namely the ability to create and trade user-defined assets without the need for a centralized third party.

    Company shares are an obvious application of these platforms. On NXT’s Asset Exchange, for instance, where more than 220 user-defined assets have already been created, digital currency exchange service Coinomat has issued a cryptoasset that offers shareholders a 1.5% dividend of the company’s weekly profits. This is really an example of a smart contract that is automatically confirmed and processed over a block chain.

    Other current examples of block chain implementations include the Digital Tangible Trust, which offers a tradable gold-backed cryptoasset. Non-traditional assets are also emerging, like those being created by MyPowers, whose digital tokens allow people to buy and trade brand equity in artists and organizations. Other projects are moving beyond assets, like Pavilion, which is planning to utilize block chain technology to sign and publicly publish contracts.

    Future goals for cryptoassets include smart property linked to physical assets; imagine a rental car whose key was tradable as a token on a decentralized exchange and downloadable to a fob that would unlock the vehicle. There are also plans to launch what are called decentralized autonomous companies (DACs) – namely by projects like BitShares – which operate autonomously on top of a block chain and earn profit for shareholders.

    Decentralized applications will hide the block chain

    Beyond assets, there have been efforts to utilize the block chain as a way to store data. Namecoin, an attempt to create a decentralized domain name registry outside the control of ICANN, was arguably the second implementation of block chain technology after digital cash transactions. More recently, efforts like MaidSafe and Storj have completed fundraising rounds.

    MaidSafe is attempting to use the bitcoin block chain to create a fully decentralized internet by sharing processing and memory power across a distributed network. Its April crypto-crowdsale notably raised $7m in five hours, although, due to the poor liquidity of the Mastercoin it received, it soon revised that number to $5.5m.

    Storj completed its crypto-crowdsale on 20th August, raising 910 BTC. The Storj platform offers online storage similar to Dropbox or Google Drive, but does so over a distributed network. Utilizing the bitcoin block chain, Storj allows users to buy available disk space on the network, and in addition, allows users with free storage space to sell it to those in need.

    Shawn Wilkinson, founder of Storj and a bitcoin developer, noted the value of expanded applications of the block chain, saying:

    “Essentially you can take the technology from bitcoin, which is a $5bn–$6bn industry, and apply it to an existing area like cloud storage, which is a $150bn dollar industry.”

    With applications like Storj, Wilkinson pointed out, you move past things like regulation, public perception, price volatility and the complexity of the underlying technology. Decentralized applications provide a user interface whose back-end could be a traditional network but happens to be a distributed one.

    Sidechains, treechains and a question of blockchains

    One important point of contention within the crytpo 2.0 space is what block chain this next generation of implementations should be built on top of. In one camp are the organizations like Ethereum and BitShares that are building their own, entirely new block chains on top of which their platforms will operate.

    In June, bitcoin core developer Gavin Andresen addressed the Ethereum project in a blog post and suggested that Ethereum’s intentions to create a new proof of work system and currency seemed extraneous at first blush.

    He wrote:

    “Bitcoin already provides a global currency and distributed ledger – there is no need to reinvent those wheels. Combining real-world information with bitcoin is where things start to get really interesting.”

    Alternatively, BitShares uses a mechanism called delegated proof-of-stake (DPOS), where stakeholders delegate their voting power to 101 delegates that take turns updating BitShares block chain. Distributed proof-of- helps prevent known risks of proof-of-work, including risk of a 51% attack.

    Other crypto 2.0 initiative are seeking to adapt the bitcoin block chain to scale more effectively, be less decentralized and allow for permissionless development. One such effort is through bitcoin core developer Peter Todd’s treechain concept, which Todd is developing while working at crypto 2.0 start-up Viacoin. Side chains are another potential implementation that will allow new features to be added to the existing bitcoin block chain through new block chains that interact with it..."

    10:49 am
    PKI terrorists
    Bitcoin can be thought of as an open messaging system secured by public key cryptography. In contrast to other systems protected by username and password logins, Bitcoin is secured through digital message signatures created with a unique private key. This single point of access places a very high value on the secure generation, use, and storage of private keys.
    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
    7:42 pm
    We're all going on a summer holiday
    Fun fun fun - " A sports jacket may be worn to dinner but not trousers "

    Having a Butchers Hook - " I SLAUGHTER MYSELF DAILY "

    #ComfortingRemindersOfHome " Ears pierced while you wait. Pay for TWO and get another one pierced FREE! "


    " Ladies leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time "

    Time for the Drycleaners - " Drop your trousers here for best results "

    " Swimming is forbidden in the absence of a savior " #NICE

    " Cools and Heats. If you want one or the other please control yourself "

    In case of fire do your best to alarm the hotel Porter

    " Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life "

    We highly recommend the Hotel tart


    #SochiMemories A new swimming-pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their work-force.

    Our nylons cost more - but they are the best in the long run

    Retweeted by professor rat
    Milton Mueller @miltonmueller · 28m
    Damn. Another "internet" governance forum that can't deliver internet access to most of the people here #IGF2014

    Ladies are requested not to have children at the bar

    Spend your honeymoon with us and we'll guarantee its the best you ever had

    Steak and Chops are grilled before customers.

    #Timely There will be a Moscow exhibition of arts by 15,000 Soviet republic painters & sculptors. These were executed over the past 2 years.

    #TinkerTailor " Ladies May Have a Fit Upstairs "

    Our gifts will not last long at these prices...

    How sweet - " For your convenience we recommend courteous efficient self-service "

    Time for the chemistry president - " We dispense with accuracy "

    Do not startle wandering horses - stop by roadside till they pass away

    ...Beef rashers beaten up in the country peoples fashion #TheRussiansAREcoming

    Salad's a Firms own make. Limpid red-beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger. Roasted duck let loose...

    Home wanted for friendly Labrador - will eat anything. Loves children

    Simply hang your order before retiring on the doorknob

    Please leave your values at the front desk.

    The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

    Why not rent out a movie for a dull evening?

    " If this is your first visit to the USSR you are welcome to it "

    #RostovOntheDon " Haircuts half-price today - limit one per customer "

    Allthough the Palmer Bikie Party removed a Mining Tax the Outlaw Prospectors remain politically non-aligned #OPMC

    Watching An ebola-infected nurse being cared for inside a sealed tent...oh wait, no, that's president Obama. Sorry.

    " Don't go into another shop to be cheated - come in here! " #RussiaMustHaveInvaded

    Spotted in the Bottle-Shop - * Our wines leave you nothing to hope for *

    Sign in my Grocers reads " Do not handle fruit - ask for Hillary "
    Monday, September 1st, 2014
    7:25 pm
    Fuck worker. Fuck Working-Class
    Fuck work - fuck workerism - fuck Marxism - fuck off!

    We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

    --Buckminster Fuller
    Sunday, August 31st, 2014
    6:38 pm
    Swedish anarcho-feminist visits
    Kajsa Ekis Ekman
    Kajsa Ekis Ekman was born in Stockholm in 1980. She is an author and a critic and a member of the editorial collective of an anarchist magazine.

    Kajsa has a Master’s Degree in Literature from Södertörn University. Her first book Being and Being Bought was published in Sweden in 2010. However, it was published for the first time in both English and French in 2013. Her second book, Debt as a Weapon: The euro crisis seen from Athens, was also published in September 2013.

    Kajsa campaigns against surrogacy and prostitution. She has founded the network, Feminists Against Surrogacy and the climate action group, Klimax.

    Kajsa is in Australia to give the talk ‘Surrogacy is Child Trafficking’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
    12:00 pm
    The past is not dead
    Its not even past

    Hal Finney, Cryptographer And Bitcoin Pioneer, 58
    AUGUST 30, 2014
    Hal Finney, a cryptographer and one of the earliest users and developers of the virtual currency Bitcoin, died on Thursday in Phoenix. He was 58.

    Mr. Finney had been paralyzed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., and was taken off life support at Paradise Valley Hospital, his wife, Fran Finney, said. She said his body was immediately prepared for cryonic preservation by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to his wishes.

    A graduate of the California Institute of Technology, Mr. Finney was a longtime futurist who put his programming skills to work in the service of his ideals, particularly his desire to see the privacy of individuals protected.

    In 1991, he began doing volunteer work for a new software project known as Pretty Good Privacy, or P.G.P., and immediately became one of the central players in developing the program. P.G.P. aimed to make it possible for people everywhere to encrypt electronic communication in a way that could not be read by anyone other than the intended recipient. The program used relatively new innovations in encryption that are still thought to be invulnerable to code breakers.

    Hal Finney was futurist and an advocate for the privacy of individuals.
    Mr. Finney wrote in 1992 that cryptographic technology appealed to him because he worried about the ability of corporations and governments to snoop on citizens.

    “The work we are doing here, broadly speaking, is dedicated to this goal of making Big Brother obsolete,” he wrote to an online group of fellow privacy activists.

    The original author of P.G.P., Philip R. Zimmermann, quickly became the target of federal prosecutors, who believed that the software broke United States laws against exporting military-grade encryption software.

    While the investigation went on and became a major cause for civil libertarians, Mr. Finney played a more quiet role in P.G.P. to avoid becoming a target himself. Mr. Zimmermann said in an interview that this decision meant Mr. Finney did not get proper credit for some of the important innovations he had made in the development of P.G.P.

    When the investigation concluded in 1996 without any charges being filed, P.G.P. became a company, and Mr. Zimmermann set out to hire Mr. Finney as his first employee.

    Mr. Zimmermann, in an interview before Mr. Finney died, said Mr. Finney was unusual in the field because he had none of the asocial tendencies and physical awkwardness that are commonly associated with people in the programming world. Rather, he said, Mr. Finney was a gregarious man who loved skiing and long-distance running.

    “Sometimes people pay some price for being extremely smart — they are deficient in some emotional quality,” Mr. Zimmermann said. “Hal was not like that.”

    While working on P.G.P., Mr. Finney was a regular participant in a number of futurist mailing lists, the most famous of which gave birth to the Cypherpunk movement, dedicated to privacy-enhancing cryptography.

    Following these lists, Mr. Finney became fascinated by the concept of digital currencies that could not be tracked by governments and banks.

    He was involved in many experiments aimed at creating an anonymous form of digital money, including his own invention, in 2004, of reusable proofs of work. Though that system never took off, he quickly saw the promise of the Bitcoin project when it was announced on an obscure email list in 2008 by a creator with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

    Bitcoin used some of the same cryptographic tools harnessed by P.G.P. and held out the promise that participants could choose to be anonymous when spending money online.

    When the project drew criticism from other cryptographers, Mr. Finney was among the first people to defend it. He downloaded the Bitcoin software the day it was released. The day after that, he took part in the first transaction on the network when Satoshi Nakamoto sent him 10 Bitcoins.

    His early work on Bitcoin and his programming background led to frequent speculation in the Bitcoin community that Mr. Finney was Satoshi Nakamoto, a claim he always denied.

    Soon after getting started with Bitcoin, Mr. Finney learned in 2009 that he had A.L.S., and he withdrew, for a time, from active participation in the project.

    Harold Thomas Finney II was born on May 4, 1956, in Coalinga, Calif., to Virginia and Harold Thomas Finney. His father was a petroleum engineer.

    After graduating from Caltech in 1979 with a degree in engineering, he worked for a company that developed video games like Astroblast and Space Attack.

    As a young man, Mr. Finney developed an interest in preserving life through cryonic freezing until better, life-enhancing technologies were invented, said a college roommate, Yin Shih. In 1992, Mr. Finney visited the Alcor facility with his wife to determine whether he wanted to sign up his family to be preserved in Alcor’s “containment vessels.”

    “In my personal opinion, anyone born today has a better than 50-50 chance of living effectively forever,” he wrote at the time.

    Mr. Finney remained an employee of the P.G.P. Corporation until his retirement in 2011, working from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    In the last few years, Mr. Finney was able to move only his facial muscles, but he communicated and wrote Bitcoin-related software using a computer that tracked his eye movement.

    “I’m pretty lucky overall,” Mr. Finney wrote on a Bitcoin website in 2013. “Even with the A.L.S., my life is very satisfying.”

    As the price of Bitcoins rose, his family, to pay for his medical care, was able to sell some of the coins he secured in the early days.

    Besides his son, Jason, and his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Erin Finney; two sisters, Kathleen Finney and Patricia Wolf; and a brother, Michael. His wife, a physical therapist whom he met at Caltech, spent most of her days caring for him in his final years.

    After Mr. Finney’s death, the freezing of his remains was announced by another futurist, Max More. “Hal,” he wrote in a statement online. “I know I speak for many when I say that I look forward to speaking to you again sometime in the future and to throwing a party in honor of your revival.”
    1:53 am
    Dial G for Gangsta
    The 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul has been upstaged by the announcement of the Netmundial Initiative (NMI) in Geneva. The NMI is an attempt by ICANN’s CEO, Fadi Chehade, to enlist the resources and interpersonal networks of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in finding “solutions” to Internet governance problems. Framed as an “initiative for action” that would implement the principles of the April Netmundial meeting in Brazil, the unveiling of NMI has generated a flurry of critical commentary.

    Below, we will suggest that those who have devoted so much attention to fretting over its methods or composition are overestimating its significance for the actual governance of internetworking. At the same time, they are not paying enough attention to the more serious pathologies in the broader “ecosystem,” of which NMI is a symptom.

    It is not difficult to understand why the NMI is controversial. There are four distinct causes. First, it appropriated the name of the Brazilian Netmundial meeting and its respected outcome document, even though there is no formal relationship and very little continuity between the WEF crowd (other than Fadi himself) and the actors and institutional methods of the Brazilian Netmundial meeting. For that reason, I like to refer to NMI as the “Not-Mundial.” Just to be clear.

    Second, it was formed through a top-down process. Fadi and his allies in WEF hand-picked people from governments, business and civil society to be insiders in the process, instead of forming an open institution. While top-down initiatives are sometimes unavoidable to bootstrap a process, Fadi has relied far too heavily on such methods. The man simply does not understand (or does not like?) open, bottom up processes, perhaps because they cannot be controlled. Last year he created no less than 5 “Strategy Panels” in which groups of luminaries selected by him and reporting only to him were supposed to address some of the long-term issues affecting the future of ICANN and Internet governance. Millions of dollars were spent, but none of them produced anything that had any traction in the broader community. It was the 5th Strategy Panel, on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms led by Toomas Ilves of Estonia and Google’s Vint Cerf, that forged the link to the World Economic Forum. WEF, along with ICANN and the Annenberg Foundation, co-convened that panel. So Fadi has been targeting the use of WEF as a platform of an Internet governance initiative for some time. Surprisingly to him, however, and predictably to the rest of us, the Ilves/Cerf report, produced by a cozy group of insiders, was totally eclipsed by the more open and inclusive Netmundial process, which was not afraid to deal with contending views.

    This method of trying to “lead” has a number of known pathologies when used in public global governance contexts. It inevitably results in the selection of people based on their socio-economic proximity to the people doing the selections. Inevitably, it makes others resentful of the fact that they weren’t selected. Communities can be divided and conquered based on their selection or inclusion. And obviously, the selections reflect and reinforce the political biases of those making the choices. True to form, the Not-Mundial is run by a very predictable and usual-suspecty cast of characters, although the absence of Google and other major edge-Internet firms is a surprise. The few privileged civil society organizations included in early Not-Mundial preparations were pleased to be insiders at first, but have since backpedaled, issuing statements criticizing the initiative’s lack of inclusiveness lest they be seen as co-opted – which of course never, ever happens. See also the comments of APC.

    Third, the Not-Mundial’s link to the elite WEF, which is built around an annual meeting for a few “world leaders” in Davos, Switzerland, raises the spectre of domination of the “ecosystem” by business and political elites. This too is a legitimate concern, although there is a bit of a Catch-22 here. You can’t have a “multistakeholder” governance system without involving and representing business actors, especially those who operate networks and Internet services. On the other hand there is always a noisy lefty faction among states and civil society who think that any business is per se illegitimate, and any sign of their presence is an indication that the whole system is corrupt.[1] If the purpose of Not-Mundial was to strengthen corporate engagement in good faith governance negotiations with other stakeholder groups it would be good, but the Not-Mundial we have threatens to elevate and isolate the “leaders” from the rest of us.

    The fourth and most important worries about Not-Mundial relate to its effects on the UN Internet Governance Forum. In an astute blog post, Jeremy Malcolm of EFF claimed that “NETmundial Initiative carries forward [Fadi’s] vision, to establish an equivalent institutional framework for broader Internet public policy issues as already exists in ICANN for narrower issues of naming and numbering.” But why, exactly, do we need this thing when the IGF already exists? Wasn’t the IGF supposed to be the forum for broader internet policy issues, the aggregator of multistakeholder dialogue, the place where stakeholder groups come together, learn about each other’s concerns and hatch solutions? Malcolm doesn’t mince words about this: he believes that the IGF is a bust and perhaps the Not-Mundial should replace it:

    The Internet Governance Forum has proved itself, time and again, to be both unwilling and unable to shoulder the responsibilities expected of it by the Internet community, and required of it by its mandate in the Tunis Agenda.

    Unlike Malcolm, the Not-Mundials are insisting that their initiative actually builds upon the IGF. According to Chehade’s 18th August blog post:

    The Initiative’s work will not serve as a substitute for the IGF, but rather complement its efforts by formulating solutions, engaging in capacity development and broadening participation in Internet cooperation. ICANN’s commitment and contributions to the IGF shall remain a priority.

    But how is it complementary? His explanation warrants close scrutiny:

    The Initiative seeks to complement the activities of the IGF by helping to engage a more interdisciplinary and cross-sector array of ministries, industries, academic disciplines and others in discussion on specific policy challenges that would benefit from additional leader-level conversations. These discussions are not intended to replace but rather to supplement the highly inclusive, grass-roots discussions taking place in IGF venues.

    In other words, “additional leader-level conversations” are needed to supplement those “highly inclusive, grass-roots discussions.” This sounds suspiciously as if the “leaders” who go to WEF are creating an escape route from the IGF coalition that allows them to go off and work by themselves, free of the riff-raff, when they want. If that’s not the intent, then why not bring more of the corporate “leaders” and ministers into the IGF?

    What this all signifies, really, is that something called “Internet governance” has gained enough recognition to generate what Sam LaFranco called a “land rush” of actors trying to position themselves as “leaders” or visible players in it. This means that vested interests already in the game need to stay on top of developments. A growing number of these people make their living this way. A lot of the clamor surrounding the Not-Mundial is not about real governance or policy, but arguments over who gets face time on the global stage. It’s not about governance or contending policies. It’s about who capitalizes on the perceived demand for governance. It’s about who gets the media coverage.

    The irony is that none of these initiatives are actually establishing any new forms of governance authority over the internet. In fact, their clamor and jostling is based on a concept of “Internet governance” that is both disconnected from real political authority and an anachronistic throwback to older forms of communications regulation via national legislation and policy making. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Internet governance is the way to extend broadband to the masses; secure human rights; and eliminate inequality among nations, genders and classes. Or at least, it will generate thousands of words about how important it is to do these things. In the meantime, states like Turkey (and China, and Russia, and the UK) continue to censor and filter the internet, the U.S. continues to build its cyber-weapons arsenal, and individual network managers and platform providers continue to implement thousands of distinct policies based on a complex variety of market, political, legal and cultural factors.

    If you watched the debriefing given by the Not-Mundial’s founding partners, you saw a somewhat tedious invocation of the standard rhetoric about the wonders of the internet and the virtues of multistakeholderism coming from a predictable cast of characters. Experienced observers should suspect that this grouping will have about as much impact on Internet governance as the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission has had on broadband development. A lot of big names, a lot of important people. No major change. People who have no real ideas, and no real need to change things, tend to not accomplish much. The sums of money at their disposal are pretty large if you’re in the publicity business, but pathetically small if you’re in the business of constructing and operating networks.

    The bigger problem is, we are not even having a dialogue about whether we need new forms of governance authority at all. Nor are we having a conversation about how to make sure that efforts to “govern” the internet don‘t damage the freedom and openness that made it succeed in the first place. The Internet governance bandwagon has started rolling so fast that everyone is assuming that these commissions and panels and initiatives and Forums actually do governance; that we know what governance means at that level; that Internet users will benefit from cosmopolite politicians promising to deliver massive benefits at no cost in the name of governance.

    That’s one reason why the emergence of an “Ungovernance Forum” by Turkish activists disgruntled with the IGF, and with their own government’s repression of Internet-based expression, was so refreshing to see. Here we see a defection from the IGF coalition from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Instead of high-level leaders defecting into WEF, we see the grass roots victims of bad local governance taking a critical stance toward the whole concept of Internet governance and questioning the relevance of these bloated and self-referential global dialogues to their own situation.

    Most of the real solutions to Internet problems are happening in ways that mirror the Internet’s architecture. They are networked, distributed, ad hoc. The most valuable initiatives are not taken by political or business “leaders” selected and blessed by other leaders, but by actors with a real stake in the outcome, real skin in the game, acting on their own initiative. The concept of Ungovernance has legs. FROM
    Saturday, August 30th, 2014
    7:32 pm
    Before Noam there was Eric
    • Reply•Share ›

    TakuanSoho • 3 days ago
    Eric Hobswbawm, where have I heard that name.... Oh yeah, he was the person who wrote a justification of the Soviet invasion of Finland while simultaneously blaming the country that sheltered him from both the Nazis and the Soviets, and then lied about it for decades.

    He was also that "true Stalinist ideologue" who also accepted a title from a queen; as true an intellectual hypocrite as there could be.

    So, a proven liar who was intellectually dishonest. And we should believe his historical writings why? I know that he was an engaging writer, but history should be about having trust in the writer to be as objective as possible, after all we all do not have the time to track down all the source documentation and ensure that it is placed within context. So if this trust is blown, and blown in a significant way, why should we respect his writings? Hell, if mere plagiarism is enough to condemn one (as it should mind you), then what should outright lies and intellectual dishonesty warrant?

    As for the British kowtowing to an ardent Stalinist, happens all the time. A case in point is the widespread condemnation of Isaiah Berlin for stating an honest (and correct) opinion upon being asked that A.N. Wilson was not qualified to teach history because he would not honestly state known facts.
    Friday, August 29th, 2014
    11:20 am
    Eldridge Cleaver gets religion
    Islamic Supremacism and Rape
    By Andrew C. McCarthy
    August 28, 2014
    As recounted in Ian Tuttle’s bracing reports (here and here) about rapes committed by Muslims in Rotherdam, England, this is a longstanding European scandal the cover-up of which brings shame – more shame – to the Western media. In my 2010 book The Grand Jihad, on the Islamist-supremacist threat to the West, I described rape by Muslim immigrants as “the unspoken epidemic of Western Europe.” The book goes on to discuss the unmentionable Islamic doctrinal and cultural underpinnings of the epidemic:

    As a violent jihadist tactic, [rape] has long been an infamous weapon in the Sudanese Islamist regime’s genocidal arsenal, used first against Christians and animists in the south in the early Nineties and, more recently, in western Sudan against the Muslims of Darfur, whom Islamists judge to be insufficiently Islamic. Now, with the tide of immigration, jihad by rape has been imported to Europe, where indignation by the politically correct press is predictably reserved not for the perpetrators but for the few journalists willing to report on it.

    Consistent with [top Muslim Brotherhood sharia jurist] Sheikh [Yusuf] Qaradawi’s aforementioned view that the rape victim is to blame for her plight if she has failed to adhere to fundamentalist protocols for women’s attire, Shahid Mehdi, a top Islamic cleric in Denmark, has explained that women who fail to don a headscarf are asking to be raped (an admonition also given voice by Sheik Faiz Mohammed, a prominent Lebanese cleric, during a lecture he delivered in Australia) (See Sharon Lapkin, “Western Muslims’ Racist Rape Spree”,, Dec. 29, 2005). Not surprisingly given such encouragement, Fjordman painstakingly documents that it has become a commonplace for young Muslim men to participate in sexual assaults and absolve themselves from culpability. (See here, here and here.) As a psychologist working in the prison system, the incomparable Theodore Dalrymple witnessed the six-fold spike in Britain’s Muslim inmate population between 1990 and 2005. He bluntly notes that “thanks to their cultural inheritance, [the Muslims’] abuse of women is systematic rather than unsystematic as it is with” white and black inmates. (See Theodore Dalrymple, “Our prisons are fertile ground for cultivating suickde bombers”, The Times of London, July 30, 2005.) Robert Spencer elaborates [in “The Rape Jihad”,, Sept. 24, 2004]:

    The Islamic legal manual ‘Umdat al-Salik, which carries the endorsement of Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, stipulates: “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.” Why? So that they are free to become the concubines of their captors. The Qur’an permits Muslim men to have intercourse with their wives and their slave girls: “Forbidden to you are . . . married women, except those whom you own as slaves” (Sura 4:23-24).

    As atrocious as rape is on its own, the Sudanese experience demonstrates that it is even more harrowing as a component in a broader intimidation campaign. Writing in Frontpage Magazine, the former Australian army officer Sharon Lapkin has recounted (article linked above, my italics in excerpt):

    Retired Australian detective Tim Priest warned in 2004 that the Lebanese gangs, which emerged in Sydney in the 1990s—when the police were asleep—had morphed out of control. “The Lebanese groups,” he said, “were ruthless, extremely violent, and they intimidated not only innocent witnesses, but even the police that attempted to arrest them.” Priest describes how in 2001, in a Muslim dominated area of Sydney two policemen stopped a car containing three well-known Middle Eastern men to search for stolen property. As the police carried out their search they were physically threatened and the three men claimed they were going to track them down, kill them and then rape their girlfriends. . . . As the Sydney police called for backup the three men used their mobile phones to call their associates, and within minutes, 20 Middle Eastern men arrived on the scene. They punched and pushed the police and damaged state vehicles. The police retreated and the gang followed them to the police station where they intimidated staff, damaged property and held the police station hostage. Eventually the gang left, the police licked their wounds, and not one of them took action against the Middle Eastern men. Priest claims, “In the minds of the local population, the police are cowards and the message was, ‘Lebanese [Muslim gangs] rule the streets.’”

    The situation, Lapkin learned, was the same in Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, where police concede that they are no longer in control. Muslim immigrant gangs rule the streets. To make their dominion emphatic, even ambulance personnel are routinely attacked and abused. They won’t go into many neighborhoods without police protection, and the police, in turn, will not enter without additional back-up.

    Islamists are taking the measure of the West and finding it to be a shallow, self-loathing husk. When Muslims riot over mere cartoons, the intelligentsia’s first impulse is to condemn the publisher. After an Islamist terrorist’s brutal murder of Theo van Gogh, who directed Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s screenplay “Submission,” about the treatment of women in Islam, the first impulse of the Netherlands was to encourage Ms. Hirsi Ali to leave the country. In Birmingham, a conservative group called the “English Defense League” has demonstrated in opposition to what it is careful to call militant Islam, stressing that it has no quarrel with Islam or with Muslims who do not wish to change British law or life. Predictably, Muslim groups reacted violently, exhorted by imams at the Birmingham Central Mosque to show the umma’s “solidarity.” The first impulse of the British media? To side with the rampaging Muslims, whom they portrayed as heroic “anti-fascists”—fighting side-by-side with their socialist allies, to challenge the “anti-Islamic” activists of the right-wing.” (See here and here.)

    These are but a surface scratch of the mosaic that gives Sheikh Qaradawi such confidence that Islam will “conquer” Europe—that Islam is this minute conquering Europe—and that it will eventually bring America to heel as well.
    2:43 am
    Kill all the cops
    "...circumstances where killing a police officer counts as a form of justifiable homicide”
    I can think of plenty. Not that the jury will believe you, or that you're actually alive to present a defense for that matter. -

    See more at:
    Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
    7:38 pm
    Penny Wong talks to Clive
    O-Ren Ishii: [after she cuts off Tanaka's head, in Japanese] So you all will know the seriousness of my warning, I shall say this in English.

    O-Ren Ishii: [in English] As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you're unconvinced that a particular plan of action I've decided is the wisest, tell me so, but allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion.
    The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is... I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now, if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, now's the fucking time!
    O-Ren Ishii: I didn't think so.
    O-Ren Ishii: [calmly, in Japanese] Gentlemen, this meeting is adjourned.
    3:55 pm
    Raygun zap
    In California [in 1967] legislators had been so vexed by the sight of armed Black Panthers protesting outside the statehouse that they passed legislation outlawing all open carrying of firearms — the first such ban in state history and, at the time, perhaps the strictest ordinance in the country. Governor Ronald Reagan happily signed the bill.
    That bill, the Mulford Act, was not only signed by a Republican governor, it was drawn up by a Republican legislators too.
    3:54 pm
    A sea of trouble
    A new group calling itself the Huey P. Newton Gun Club launched armed self-defense patrols Wednesday with one stated purpose: to protect Dallas neighbors from police.

    Group leader Charles Goodson said recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri over the killing of an unarmed black teen named Michael Brown by a white police officer is only part of the reason for the new Dallas patrols.

    The group is named after Huey P. Newton, a founder of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s who was killed by a rival militant in 1989.

    “We don’t think that what happened to Michael Brown in St. Louis is an isolated incident. We have so many Michael Browns here in the city of Dallas,” Goodson said.

    Another leader, Huby Freeman, said the group wants to educate neighbors about the right to bear arms and the need for it.

    “We believe we can police ourselves and bring security to our community, ridding our community of black-on-black crime, violence, police terror, etc., etc.,” Freeman said.

    Freeman and more than two dozen other people, many carrying rifles, marched Wednesday afternoon along Martin Luther King Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard, streets named for civil rights leaders.
    3:52 pm
    Ride on time
    "...So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents..." ( POTUS deer )

    What is he talking about? The Islamic State certainly speaks for their faith. In fact, the Islamic State defines itself by faith, an their faith doesn’t just “teach” them to massacre innocents; it mandates such massacres. Moreover, their faith has long roots within Islam, with jihadist movements flaring century after century. Even if we defeat the Islamic State now, we’ll no doubt see other jihadist movements in the future. The Islamic world is plagued by jihad, and it has been for a long time.

    President Obama is certainly not the only president prone to telling the American people comfortable lies about our enemy’s faith. President Bush wrapped both arms around Islam, declaring “Islam is peace.” By what standard can a president make such a declaration? There are certainly Muslims who reject jihadists, and the jihadists think those Muslims are apostates. Does the president of the United States now adjudicate Muslim theological disputes?

    Jihadists proclaim Islam — as jihadists have proclaimed Islam throughout the centuries and will proclaim Islam in the centuries to come. They have persistent power within the Muslim world not because their beliefs are “nihilist” (to use another of the president’s words) but because they are transcendent, promising eternal rewards for the faithful and eternal punishment for the infidels. Nihilism is the “rejection of all religious and moral principles.” Jihad is a war for religious and moral principles.

    Can we not tell the truth about this? Can we not also tell the truth that — far from being horrified by barbarism — thousands upon thousands of Muslim men are flocking to the Islamic State’s black banner, including more Muslim Britons than volunteer for Her Majesty’s own armed forces?

    To fight an enemy we have to know an enemy, and comforting lies merely drain our will and confuse our own people. We are dealing with an enemy that (rightfully) believes that beheading videos will increase its appeal primarily among young Muslim men. Let that sink in for a moment. Atrocities increase their appeal.

    No religion? Oh yes, they have a religion. And that religion wants you dead.
    3:48 pm
    Persistent creeping fasciitis
    Sadly, Totalitarianism Is Exciting
    By Charles C. W. Cooke
    August 25, 2014
    Daily News:

    A suspect in the beheading of American journalist James Foley is a British-raised rapper who left his parent’s million-dollar London home last year to fight for radical Islam in Syria.

    Homegrown jihadist Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old rapper, may be the masked man who severed Foley’s head with a knife in a YouTube video in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq, according to reports in several British papers. . . .

    In July 2013, he posted on Facebook, “The Unknown mixtape with my bro tabanacle will be the last music I’m ever releasing. I have left everything for the sake of Allah.”

    On Aug. 13, he tweeted a photo of himself in Iraq holding a severed head with the caption, “Chilllin’ with my homie or what’s left of him,” The Times of London reported. His Twitter account was suspended soon afterward. It is unclear whose head he was holding.

    Bary also tweeted a threat in June: “The lions are coming for you soon you filthy kuffs (infidels). Beheadings in your own backyard soon.”

    Like many others, Bary has been taken in by an ideology — a disastrous, abhorrent, absolute, and apparently irresistible ideology. His discontent is not driven by poverty or oppression or historical experience. It’s driven by ideas, and by the human needs that those ideas seek to satiate. Bary, the Daily Mail reports, “grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with thugs linked to hate preacher Anjem Choudary.” This, sadly, is too common a story. Look through the biographies of the 9/11 attackers. How many of them lacked food or healthcare?

    Over the weekend, the New York Times’ Ross Douthat observed that the world’s uglier movements will always attract the bored, which is why, he suggested,

    writing off the West’s challengers as purely atavistic is a good way to misunderstand them — and to miss the persistent features of human nature that they exploit, appeal to and reward.

    These features include not only the lust for violence and the will to power, but also a yearning for a transcendent cause that liberal societies can have trouble satisfying.

    As The Week’s Michael Brendan Dougherty argues, discussing the Europeans who have joined up with ISIS, liberalism’s “all-too-human order” — which privileges the sober, industrious and slightly boring — is simply “not for everyone.” Nor, most likely, will it ever be: in this century, the 22nd, or beyond.

    Bary did not discover militant Islam over the Internet, but through his father:

    Bary is one of six children of Adel Abdul Bary, an Egyptian militant who is facing terrorism charges in connection with Al Qaeda’s twin 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

    Nevertheless, he clearly found this lifestyle more appealing than the alternative, which was to live as an upper-middle-class musician in the West.

    One reason that liberty can be difficult to preserve is that it so often lacks the romance, the heroism, and the sense of involvement that so many appear to crave. Bound by relatively few governmental or social constraints, citizens of free countries are obliged to make their own decisions, to establish and to participate in their own communities, and — crucially – to create their own sense of meaning. This can be tough — scary, even. To join a strictly defined and quasi-totalitarian movement such as IS, on the other hand, is instantly to feel a sense of belonging. As someone who is keenly motivated by a desire to leave people alone, it is distressing for me to acknowledge action-based collectivist philosophies are much, much more popular than I would wish. But they are. Why would Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary want to involve himself with a bunch of such extraordinary thugs? Well, at least they’re doing something.
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