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|Friday, January 10th, 2014|
Hi-ho silver lining
The Silver Lining of Bridgegate?
By Lisa Schiffren
January 9, 2014
esting thing about Chris Christie is that it is not possible to have lukewarm feelings about him. They’re hot or cold, sometimes both together. At the moment, that is working against him. But this Bridgegate scandal will pass because the American people have the attention span of a gnat; and reality will force voters to put even the worst possible construction of the behavior leading up to the stupid, unconscionable and bizarrely targeted deliberate creation of traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., into context. Should Governor Christie decide to run for the GOP nomination for president, that context is, as it always is, “compared to what?”
The presidents brain is missing - again
George Will said on Special Report that Chris Christie “cauterized the wound” of the “Bridgegate” scandal “if, but only if, he satisfied the first rule of Crisis Management 101, which is to get everything out all at once so you don’t suffer a kind of water torture of drip, drip, drip.”
Will added that Christie succeeded in the second and third rules of crisis management — which are to not use a “lawyered statement” and to act — by speaking in “honest, thumping words” and by firing someone immediately.
“The remaining question will be,” Will said, “‘is there something in the atmosphere of the governor’s office that encouraged rogue behavior on the part of these people?’
No - Canon Law
disagreement between Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and a firm supporter of the Putin regime, and the Ukrainian patriarch, Filaret:
Commenting on the statement of Russian Christian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill that the EuroMaidan demonstrations are a threat to the spiritual unity of Ukrainians and Russians, the Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine Filaret stated: “This is not true.”
“If we take the idea that Kirill defends – Rusky Mir (Russian World) – it is not unity, it is empire, wrapped in a nice package. In fact, it is about creating a new empire. The Customs Union is the beginning,” said Filaret, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revival of an economic and political union of former Soviet republics including Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia. Putin also hopes to include Ukraine, the second largest former Soviet republic, in the grouping.
According to Filaret, “the truth is to practice the Orthodox faith, and each nation will have its own independent church, as required by the canons of the church.”
I’ve no idea about the canon law, but Filaret is clearly onto something about the politics of all this.
|Thursday, January 9th, 2014|
Invasion of the Alans
Abel once ran for Congress on a platform that included paying congressmen based on commission; selling ambassadorships to the highest bidder; installing a lie detector in the White House and truth serum in the Senate drinking fountain; requiring all doctors to publish their medical school grade point average in the telephone book after their names and removing Wednesday to establish a 4-day workweek.
At the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Abel introduced a campaign to ban all breastfeeding because "it is an incestuous relationship between mother and baby that manifests an oral addiction leading youngsters to smoke, drink and even becoming anti-social."
|Anarchic by design
The Internet is a telecommunication system, but it was not our first telecommunication system. Telegraphs and telephones have been around for over a century. Like these older systems, the Internet allows us to communicate, but it differs in some important ways. Perhaps the biggest difference in the Internet model is the abstraction of a separate “application layer.” Core Internet protocols, such as TCP, part of the “transport layer,” shuffle packets of data around, but they don’t define how the exchange of packets is then used to create meaningful communication. Internet applications, such as email and the World Wide Web, are defined in protocols implemented on devices at the edges of the network, like servers and home computers, not in the guts of the network: routers, switches, hubs, and exchange points. The lower layers of the Internet can be completely oblivious to the specific applications that are in use; they just focus on getting packets of data to the right place.
In contrast, the traditional telephone system defines its applications more centrally FROMhttp://theumlaut.com/2014/01/08/bitcoin-internet-of-money/
From Vinewood to Bone Valley
ASSESSING THE INTELLIGENCE IMPLICATIONS OF VIRTUAL WORLDS
Digitally-based virtual worlds and online games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft represent a qualitatively new phenomenon that could have profound impacts on culture, politics and national security, according to a newly disclosed report (large pdf) prepared in 2008 for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
"This technology has the potential to be an agent for transformational change in our society, our economy, and our efforts to safeguard the homeland," the report stated. "If virtual world technology enters the mainstream, criminals and US adversaries will find a way to exploit this technology for illegal and errant behavior."
The study was conducted as part of the 2008 ODNI SHARP (Summer Hard Problem) program and was just released under the Freedom of Information Act in redacted (and partially illegible) form. Though sponsored by ODNI, it was prepared by a mix of governmental and non-governmental authors and does not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. intelligence community. See "3D Cyberspace Spillover: Where Virtual Worlds Get Real," July 2008.
Around the same time (2007-2009), U.S. intelligence personnel were actually exploring online games and gathering information on their users, according to classified documents released by Edward Snowden and reported in the New York Times last month. See "Spies Infiltrate a Fantasy Realm of Online Games" by Mark Mazzetti and Justin Elliott, New York Times, December 9, 2013.
The authors of the ODNI-sponsored report acknowledged that the empirical basis for their inquiry was thin.
"Much of the information in the public domain about the alleged terrorist exploitation of virtual worlds has been speculative rather than based upon substantive evidence. Although there is reliable information available concerning extremist and terrorist exploitation of the internet, for example Web 1.0, the same cannot be said of virtual world or Web 2.0."
"As of this report, there is little evidence that militant Islamist and jihadist groups have begun extensively exploiting the opportunities presented by virtual worlds."
"However, given that the more sophisticated groups of this type, including al-Qa'ida, have exploited the internet in very refined ways, they will likely soon seek to exploit newer virtual world technologies for recruiting, raising and transferring funds, training new recruits, conducting reconnaissance and surveillance, and planning attacks by using virtual representations of prospective targets."
Fancifully, the authors envision the creation of a virtual Usama bin Ladin carrying out his mission for centuries to come.
"Imagine that jihadist supporters create a detailed avatar of Usama bin Ladin and use his many voice recordings to animate the avatar for up-close virtual reality experiences that could be used to preach, convert, recruit, and propagate dogma to the media."
"The Bin Ladin avatar could preach and issue new fatwas for hundreds of years to come, as the fidelity of his likeness would be entirely believable and animated in new ways to keep him current and fresh." (p. 72)
The report includes various incidental observations of interest. It notes, for example, that "In many ways, South Korea is the world leader in adopting new technologies" including online games.
But it also reaches far afield, including references to Barbie Girls ("a quickly growing virtual world," though now closed) and Club Penguin ("over 12 million active users," now over 200 million, but most of whom are probably under ten years old) (p. 82).
"The growing number of global users, in conjunction with ongoing technological changes, will likely increase the difficulty that the Intelligence Community (IC) will encounter in its efforts to monitor the virtual realm," said the study, which was classified at the Confidential level. "Accordingly, outreach programs that enlist users as educated observers and reporters will be required to survey current and emerging systems more effectively."
Who you callin' ' chump' Willis!
Did you read today (NYT) that one of the founders of EFF, Mitch
Kapor, was a first investor in a leading ubiqutious camera
spying venture to put in the hands of everybody what once was
used only by spies and cops? Everybody is TLA, TLA is everybody.
Snowden, allegedly, gave docs to a world-class braggart,
Greenwald, and to two or three much less loud-mouthed but in
the professional bragging business, Poitras and Gellman,
documentary tout and national security tout, respectively.
Thereafter the tout bragging industry kicked into high gear and
quickly overwhelmed whatever Snowden might have intended
by their own fabricated, doctored, hyperbolied super-touted
headlined versions of his intentions, but more so, in their own
economic interest, whipping up a frenzy about their noble
intentions to rake in the loot after years of nearing bankruptcy
(the forlorn solo journo, Greenwald and Poitras profiles too.)
Greenwald in particular bellows excessively, as a lawyer must,
about his obligation to a pact with Snowden, and lately his much
greater jury-pandering about his pact with Omidyar. His recent
long bloviation on his blog is purely promotional bragging
characteristic of the hustler forever crowing about its prowess,
whining about attacks, disdaining critics with puerile condescension.
Omidyar and Bezos among others, have been sucked into
the ultra-bragging game, large, inebriated with unquenchable wealth
accumulation, after years of supporting highly vainglorious and
dispensible NGO investments, not a few of which have failed
due to exaggerated brochure-toute expectations which could
not be met but were invented losers to be run into the ground
for the tax benefits of ultra-concentrated wealth. This the exact
model of the Firstlook venture, a combo of high-profit media
industry and simulated "NGO" journalism to exempt the taxable
Would that work here. Youbetcha. The very founding of
cypherpunks employed that model and sustains it to solicit
and amass data of crypto-freedom-drunk users for marketing
peculiarly faulty products across the political spectrum from
faux privacy to faux security. Https everywhere, har, Tor, har,
WikiLeaks, har, Cryptome, spit, and what have you now,
Braggarts always have noble purposes, bragging about
nobility is what sustains the illusion of superiority. And
glosses the nobility of great wealth or depthless desire
Significant variations of braggardy, from loud to quiet.
overstatement to understatement. Chump version:
"needs killing." Chimp version: Snowden is a hero,
or traitor. Wimp version: more leaks by others, none
by me. Gimp version: this is nothing new. Limp version:
don't insult people here, don't discuss politics, message
deleted by moderator. Blimp version: this forum is
At 09:15 AM 1/8/2014, you wrote:
> > Snowden wanted to be identified, so it is alleged, and
> > has been caught as intended.
>I think the reasoning with Snowden was not so much to brag as to make
>himself a hard-to-assassinate public figure. In his case, so few people
>could have acquired the documents he did, that it was a matter of
>(little) time before he was noticed to be conveniently absent as the
>shit hit the fan.
>If he wasn't in the public eye by that time, he'd have been disappeared
>and/or shot in short order.
> > Not to be overlooked: the essence of comsec and
> > crypto is deception. So laugh at the open source ruse
> > on the way to the pokey.
>Funny that, I look at closed source as evidence of deception; without
>deception, there is no reason to hide the source. As long as they keys
>are secret, the protocol and code can be open, and should be if anyone's
>to trust that they're A) beneficent and B) competent.
>In the comparison of Cryptocat, which has tightened up radically because
>of code audits enabled by Open Sourcing it, to Bittorrent Sync (which
>used to advertise AES256 which was impossible with the keylength being
>shared, now advertises AES128, nobody knows how they implement it but a
>mistake like that screams "badly"), which is still unaudited snakeoil:
>BTSync boast massive bandwidth usage implying a significant user uptake,
>and moreso since the Snowden affair because of their snakeoil offering.
>So the Open Source guy gets all the attention, audits and improvement,
>while the closed source guys get no attention, no audits, and finally
>notice internally that they're offering AES256 when they can't
>physically accomplish it with the keylengths.
>I'll take Open, thanks. At least I can see what's wrong if it errs.
>On 08/01/14 12:55, John Young wrote:
> > James Donald wrote:
> >> And if he had, like Snowden, kept a low profile, instead of flicking a
> >> towel in their faces, they never would have detected it.
> > Swartz bragged to a slew of people and was caught.
> > Manning bragged to Lamo and was caught.
> > Kiriakou bragged to a journalist and was caught.
> > Sabu bragged to cohorts and was caught.
> > Barrett Brown bragged to the world and was caught.
> > Several Anonymouses bragged and were caught.
> > And so on, dozens in just the last decade.
> > Jim Bell bragged online and went to jail. So did Carl
> > Johnson. Cops love braggarts, brag themselves to
> > braggarts to keep prisons happylands.
> > How many did not brag and remained uncaught? There
> > are likely thousands of them. Many of those work with
> > or emulate spies who do not brag as rule number 1.
> > Snowden wanted to be identified, so it is alleged, and
> > has been caught as intended.
> > Is this nuts or what, vainglorious stupidity, or a commonplace
> > ruse to get the enemy to expose its capabilities, or to flaunt
> > one's own hybrid of authentic and fake to spook the enemy,
> > to seel products, to boost budgets, to manipulate public
> > opinion. The fundamental purpose of leaks.
> > Keeping a non-existent profile is worth considering, along
> > with a hundred pseudos.
> > And putting a high-profile out there is what the Internet
> > was intended to do, fake, sock, pseudo, anon, sucker.
> > Not to be overlooked: the essence of comsec and
> > crypto is deception. So laugh at the open source ruse
> > on the way to the pokey.
Fishhead Barry's shoom shack
in 2012, the Army revised its leadership bible, Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, to detail what toxic leadership means for the first time.
The manual now states:
"Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves. The negative leader completes short-term requirements by operating at the bottom of the continuum of commitment, where followers respond to the positional power of their leader to fulfill requests. This may achieve results in the short term, but ignores the other leader competency categories of leads and develops. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers' will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale."
The Army then launched a pilot project to take a second step toward dealing with the problem: In addition to having leaders evaluate their subordinates, as just about every institution does, they asked subordinates to evaluate their leaders — anonymously. The pilot project evaluated only eight commanders, in what the Army and management specialists call a 360 evaluation, but Perkins says the Army plans to expand the system by October 2014.
Meanwhile, Army commanders have taken more aggressive steps: They have kicked a small number of officers out of their jobs for being toxic. And the issue is becoming part of a national conversation. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told the Senate chamber recently that destructive leaders are one reason why the number of sexual assaults in the military is so high. "You've just heard from these victims, there are too many command climates that are toxic," she said.
Some of the Army researchers who first raised the issue of toxic leadership say this is clearly a new world. Still, they're concerned that Army leaders are not moving fast enough to confront it.
Walter Ulmer, a retired general who led forces in Vietnam, calls toxic leadership an "institutional cancer." He says he's "enthusiastic and optimistic" that top officials are publicly discussing the problem and debating ways to combat it, but he says the Army strategies like the new officer evaluation system are just one step.
According to the Army's plans, for example, it will ask subordinates to anonymously evaluate roughly 1,100 battalion and brigade commanders by late next year. But there are more than 100,000 officers in the Army, from noncommissioned sergeants to generals.
If you used a 10-point scale to rate how well the Army is doing tackling toxic leadership, Ulmer — whose papers on the issue are taught in the Army's command schools — says, "I guess I give it maybe, maybe a six."
The Army is doing more about toxic leaders than at any time in the past, he says, but there is "still a long way to go."
|Wednesday, January 8th, 2014|
The Hornets song
“That program, by itself, is the hornet’s nest,” Alexander says in reference to Prism. “It is the hornet’s nest that [enables] the NSA to see threats from Pakistan and Afghanistan and around the world, share those insights with the FBI—who can look inside the United States, based on their authorities—and find out, is there something bad going to happen here?” Alexander cites the case of Najibullah Zazi, the radical Islamist who planned to bomb the New York City subways in 2009, implying that information collected under the Prism program led to his capture.
“My concern is that, without knowing the facts, people will say, ‘Let’s put that hornet’s nest away.’ We sure would like to get rid of that hornet’s nest. We would like to give it to somebody else, anybody else. But we recognize that if we do that, our nation now is at greater risk for a terrorist attack. So we’re going to do the right thing; we’re going to hold on to it, let people look at the options. If there is a better option, put it on the table.”
|Trouble at the Mill
Fuck these guys. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life trying to keep Google’s users safe and secure from the many diverse threats Google faces. I’ve seen armies of machines DOS-ing Google. I’ve seen worms DOS’ing Google to find vulnerabilities in other people’s software. I’ve seen criminal gangs figure out malware. I’ve seen spyware masquerading as toolbars so thick it breaks computers because it interferes with the other spyware. I’ve even seen oppressive governments use state-sponsored hacking to target dissidents … But after spending all that time helping in my tiny way to protect Google—one of the greatest things to arise from the internet—seeing this, well, it’s just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips.http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2014/01/how-the-us-almost-killed-the-internet/all/
|Tuesday, January 7th, 2014|
Manne might need a push
The cypherpunks emerged from a meeting of minds in late 1992 in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Its founders were Eric Hughes, a brilliant Berkeley mathematician; Timothy C May, an already wealthy, former chief scientist at Intel who had retired at the age of 34; and John Gilmore, another already retired and wealthy computer scientist - once number five at Sun Microsystems - who had co-founded an organisation to advance the cause of cyberspace freedom, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They created a small group, which met monthly in Gilmore's office at a business he had created, Cygnus. At one of the early meetings of the group, an editor at Mondo 2000, Jude Milhon, jokingly called them cypherpunks, a play on cyberpunk, the "hi-tech, low-life" science-fiction genre. The name stuck. It soon referred to a vibrant emailing list, created shortly after the first meeting, which had grown to 700 by 1994 and perhaps 2000 by 1997 with by then up to a hundred postings per day. It also referred to a distinctive subculture - eventually there were cypherpunk novels, Snowcrash, Cryptonomicon, Indecent Communications; a cypherpunk porno film, Cryptic Seduction; and even a distinctive cypherpunks dress: broad-brimmed black hats. Most importantly, however, it referred to a political-ideological crusade.
At the core of the cypherpunk philosophy was the belief that the great question of politics in the age of the internet was whether the state would strangle individual freedom and privacy through its capacity for electronic surveillance or whether autonomous individuals would eventually undermine and even destroy the state through their deployment of electronic weapons newly at hand. Many cypherpunks were optimistic that in the battle for the future of humankind - between the State and the Individual - the individual would ultimately triumph. Their optimism was based on developments in intellectual history and computer software: the invention in the mid 1970s of public-key cryptography by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, and the creation by Phil Zimmerman in the early 1990s of a program known as PGP, 'Pretty Good Privacy'. The seminal historian of codes, David Kahn, argued that the Diffie-Hellman invention represented the most important development in cryptography since the Renaissance. Zimmerman's PGP program democratised their invention and provided individuals, free of cost, with access to public-key cryptography and thus the capacity to communicate with others in near-perfect privacy. Although George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of the cypherpunks' foundational texts, because of the combination of public-key cryptography and PGP software, they tended to believe that in the coming battle between Big Brother and Winston Smith, the victor might be Winston Smith.
At the time the cypherpunks formed, the American government strongly opposed the free circulation of public-key cryptography. It feared that making it available would strengthen the hands of the espionage agencies of America's enemies abroad and of terrorists, organised criminals, drug dealers and pornographers at home. For the cypherpunks, the question of whether cryptography would be freely available would determine the outcome of the great battle of the age. Their most important practical task was to write software that would expand the opportunities for anonymous communication made possible by public-key cryptography. One of the key projects of the cypherpunks was 'remailers', software systems that made it impossible for governments to trace the passage from sender to receiver of encrypted email traffic. Another key project was 'digital cash', a means of disguising financial transactions from the state.
Almost all cypherpunks were anarchists who regarded the state as the enemy. Most but not all were anarchists of the Right, or in American parlance, libertarians, who supported laissez-faire capitalism. The most authoritative political voice among the majority libertarian cypherpunks was Tim May, who, in 1994, composed a vast, truly remarkable document, "Cyphernomicon". May called his system crypto-anarchy. He regarded crypto-anarchy as the most original contribution to political ideology of contemporary times. May thought the state to be the source of evil in history. He envisaged the future as an Ayn Rand utopia of autonomous individuals dealing with each other as they pleased. Before this future arrived, he advocated tax avoidance, insider trading, money laundering, markets for information of all kinds, including military secrets and what he called assassination markets not only for those who broke contracts or committed serious crime but also for state officials and the politicians he called "Congressrodents". He recognised that in his future world only elites with control over technology would prosper. No doubt "the clueless 95%" - whom he described as "inner city breeders" and as "the unproductive, the halt and the lame" - "would suffer, but that is only just". May acknowledged that many cypherpunks would regard these ideas as extreme. He also acknowledged that, while the overwhelming majority of cypherpunks were, like him, anarcho-capitalist libertarians, some were strait-laced Republicans, left-leaning liberals, Wobblies or even Maoists. Neither fact concerned him. The cypherpunks formed a house of many rooms. The only thing they all shared was an understanding of the political significance of cryptography and the willingness to fight for privacy and unfettered freedom in cyberspace. Like an inverse Marxist, Tim May tended to believe that the inexorable expansion of private cryptography made the victory of crypto-anarchism inevitable. A new "balance of power between individuals and larger entities" was already emerging. He predicted with some confidence "the end of governments as we know them". Another even more extreme cypherpunk of the libertarian Right, Jim Bell, like an inverse Leninist, thought that history might need a push. In mid 1995, drawing upon May's recommendation of assassination markets, he began a series explaining his "revolutionary idea", which he called "Assassination Politics". These were perhaps the most notorious and controversial postings in the history of the cypherpunks list. Bell devised a system in which citizens could contribute towards a lottery fund for the assassination of particular government officials. The prize would go to the person who correctly predicted the date of the death. The winner would obviously be the official's murderer. However, through the use of public-key cryptography, remailers and digital cash, from the time they entered the competition to the collection of the prize no one except the murderer would be aware of their identity. Under the rubric "tax is theft" all government officials and politicians were legitimate targets of assassination. Journalists would begin to ask of politicians, "why should you not be killed?" As prudence would eventually dictate that no one take the job, the state would simply wither away. Moreover, as assassination lotteries could be extended across borders, no leader would again risk taking their people to war. Eventually, through the idea of the assassination lottery, then, not only would the era of anarchy arise across the globe, the condition of permanent peace humankind had long dreamt of would finally come to pass. Bell ended his 20,000 word series of postings with these words. "Is all this wishful thinking? I really don't know." A year or so later he was arrested on tax avoidance charges.
|WANKWORM attacked CERN
`In general, I support prosecuting people who think breaking into machines is fun. People like that don't seem to understand what kind of side effects that kind of fooling around has. They think that breaking into a machine and not touching anything doesn't do anything. That is not true. You end up wasting people's time. People are dragged into the office at strange hours. Reports have to be written. A lot of yelling and screaming occurs. You have to deal with law enforcement. These are all side effects of someone going for a joy ride in someone else's system, even if they don't do any damage. Someone has to pay the price.'http://suelette.home.xs4all.nl/underground/justin/chapter_1.html
|Monday, January 6th, 2014|
Thomas Jefferson, looking at the Catholic Church in France, wrote, "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government", and "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."
Nowadays, officers are expected to juggle a variety of tasks and that takes more education, chiefs said. Officers communicate with the public, solve problems, navigate different cultures, use computers, radios and other technology while on the move, and make split-second decisions about use of force with a variety of high-tech tools on their belt. And many of those decisions are recorded by squad car dashboard cameras, officer body cameras and even bystanders with smartphones.
|Shits and Admirals
Of course, the U.S. Cyber Force’s mission would be strictly governed by the longstanding tenets of the Posse Comitatus Act, just like any other branch of the armed services. In fact, establishing a distinct cyber service with less institutional ties to the NSA would go a long way toward allaying the concerns of civil libertarians by bringing greater transparency to the cyber domain and subjecting the service to a whole host of oversight mechanisms, as well as more clearly delineated funding streams. As far as domestic cyberspace is concerned, the U.S. Cyber Force would have no jurisdiction whatsoever in the United Stateshttp://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2014-01/time-us-cyber-force
|Sunday, January 5th, 2014|
Opium of the Marxists
Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
|Saturday, January 4th, 2014|
|Reinforcements from the rear
Software designer from St. Petersburg living in Paris.
Author of Gitbox version control app.
Author of CoreBitcoin, an implementation of Bitcoin in Objective-C.
Lead developer of FunGolf GPS, golfer's personal assistant on iOS.
If you want to learn about Bitcoin, start with my Bitcoin FAQ or guide for journalists. I can give you an interview or provide technical and long-term economical consulting.
I am not interested in trading, mining or building fiat-to-btc exchanges.
If you like my articles, send all your money here: 1TipsuQ7CSqfQsjA9KU5jarSB1AnrVLLo
Crypto-anarchy does not require anonymity
Cypherpunk movement started as a mailing list in 1992. In 1993 Eric Hughes publishes a “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto” . In 1994 Timothy C. May publishes “Cypherpunks FAQ” .
Here’s an excerpt from the FAQ:
2.3. “What’s the ‘Big Picture’?”
Strong crypto is here. It is widely available. It implies many changes in the way the world works. Private channels between parties who have never met and who never will meet are possible. Totally anonymous, unsinkable, untraceable communications and exchanges are possible.
Transactions can only be voluntary, since the parties are untraceable and unknown and can withdraw at any time. This has profound implications for the conventional approach of using the threat of force, directed against parties by governments or by others. In particular, threats of force will fail.
What emerges from this is unclear, but I think it will be a form of anarcho-capitalist market system I call “crypto anarchy.” (Voluntary communications only, with no third parties butting in.)
In 1998 Wei Dai publishes a proposal of “b-money”, a practical way to enforce contractual agreements between anonymous actors . He captured the essence of the movement in an immortal quote:
I am fascinated by Tim May’s crypto-anarchy. Unlike the communities traditionally associated with the word “anarchy”, in a crypto-anarchy the government is not temporarily destroyed but permanently forbidden and permanently unnecessary. It’s a community where the threat of violence is impotent because violence is impossible, and violence is impossible because its participants cannot be linked to their true names or physical locations.
In 2005 Nick Szabo publishes a proposal for “Bit gold” , a purely digital collectible based on a proof-of-work algorithm borrowing ideas from RPOW server (“Reusable proof of work”) by Hal Finney . Proposal does not mention contract enforcement mechanism, but Nick Szabo himself already proposed several ideas about smart contracts back in the nineties .
In late 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto publishes an overview of Bitcoin  and on January 3rd, 2009 releases the code and begins the blockchain.
Bitcoin is an exact implementation of the system envisioned by Tim C. May, Wei Dai and Nick Szabo. The only requirement is for transacting parties to remain anonymous. If there’s no trace to physical persons, there is no place for the violent intervention and thus the contracts can only be enforced according to the voluntarily agreed-upon rules between the parties. Bitcoin allows encoding these rules right in the transactions so they are automatically enforced by the whole network.
In practice, we cannot imagine living in full anonymity. Human beings live in a physical world and enjoy a lot of physical things. Anonymity is not something you can easily manage like a single encryption key. It must be maintained via careful dissemination of one’s actions among actions of others. And since the network activity is easily recordable, one mistake is enough to reveal oneself. In other words, the cost of anonymity is rather high compared to the benefits. Does this mean crypto-anarchy is an utopia?
I would argue, it’s far from it. Cypherpunks being rigorous scientists made a much stronger assumption than needed in practice. For transacting parties it is enough to have costs of cheating meaningfully higher than the cost of following the contract. If that condition holds for the majority of the interactions in society, there will be a great incentive for people to protect themselves against remaining rare cases of cheating thus keeping the system sustainable. Anonymity is simply one of the ways to raise the cost of the attack.
Bitcoin raises the cost of many kinds of attacks, going far beyond protecting against central banks meddling with money supply.
First, all sorts of computational services will flourish. Machines never need to disclose their physical locations and can freely automate both payment verification and payments themselves. Denial-of-service and spam can be largely eliminated by simply requiring a smallish payment for every request.
Second, personal services can be protected by peer-to-peer insurance deposits  that quite literally raise the cost of cheating by making both parties agree to a greater sacrifice.
Third, in a similar manner, crowdfunding can be fully insured by allowing raised funds to be reverted if the majority of shareholders decides to do so.
Finally, systemic predation by the state becomes economically impossible. Most modern states get their funding from debasing money supply (also known as “bond issuance”, “budget deficit”, “inflation”, “quantitative easing”, “stimulus package”). Bitcoin-based economy simply does not allow this as it is very cheap to store bitcoins and verify transactions yourself and completely avoid all kinds of fraud associated with modern banking. As central banking disappears from the state’s arsenal, federal government activities including wars become unfunded and quickly come to an end.
Local governments may continue their operations funded by local taxes, but that would become increasingly voluntary. Extracting bitcoins costs much more than protecting them. There is no highly centralized and monitored banking network, so it’s much harder to track taxable transactions. Every additional tax evader defunds the local police department and makes it safer for the next person to underreport earnings if he wishes to do so. Considering that the law enforcement is paid only a small portion of the total budget to be extracted (50% goes to bureaucrats and the rest to other public services), consistently extracting bits of information from millions of individuals is unsustainable in the long run. If anyone is good at stealing bitcoins, they are much better off doing it alone and taking all profits for themselves.
Governments, of course, can also tax in kind (like your underreported Ferrari or a house), but this would be even costlier than seizing any kind of money and those costs must be paid by the state in bitcoins that it does not have to start with.
If this speculation does not sound to you like a complete lunacy yet, here is the fun part. Most governments are completely broke and can only pay with the IOUs they print. When people start a massive run for bitcoins to protect their wealth, everyone will be able to earn bitcoins for their work, except those who work for the government. Policemen, public school teachers and alike will be the first ones to notice prices rising faster than their salaries. They will the first to change jobs or become largely corrupt on all levels (like it was in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union). Bureaucrats will smell the approaching panic and, instead of trying to retain control over the employees, will privatize as much public goods as possible, again, exactly like during the fall of the Soviet Union. People will see how all promised public services are either abandoned or stolen, and this time everyone will have a method to protect their own property and do business voluntarily and in an even safer and cheaper way than before. Crypto-anarchy will quickly become a boring reality without the need for anyone to remain fully anonymous.
|Thursday, January 2nd, 2014|
All quiet on the Western front
"...Kropp on the other hand is a thinker. He proposes that a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing-drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be much simpler and more just than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting..."
|Monday, December 30th, 2013|
|We are all about outcomes
edmundedgar 5 points 6 hours ago
I'll post a proper announcement about this when I launch, but I'm building an "oracle" service that will allow you to settle bets directly on the blockchain. Basically for a given fact at a given future date we give you a public key, and we only release the private key of the outcome that actually happens.
We can handle data from any publicly-available API with reasonable Terms of Service, so for example if you can formulate a proposition in Freebase, which covers pretty much everything in the known universe, you'll be able to bet on it, if you can find someone to bet with.
I'm then hoping that somebody will build a service that matches people who want to bet with each other and helps them set up their bets as multi-sig contracts on the blockchain, and we'll have proper p2p prediction markets with nobody holding our funds for us. FROMhttp://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1tz6lf/i_only_very_rarely_read_people_here_talk_about/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=Fancy+Show+Tech
The most Kafkaesque paragraph from today’s NSA ruling
BY ANDREA PETERSON
December 27 at 6:07 pm
Earlier today a U.S. District Court judge, Justice William Pauley, dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit alleging that the National Security Agency's phone records program was unconstitutional, based primarily on his interpretation of the 1979 Smith v. Maryland Supreme Court ruling. But elsewhere in his ruling, the judge made what seems to be a slightly Kafkaesque argument to disregard the ACLU's statutory claim that the NSA was exceeding the bounds of section 215 of the Patriot Act:
Re-read that a few times and let it sink in. Pauley is essentially saying that the targets of the order have no recourse to challenge the collection of their personal data because Congress never intended for targets to ever know that they were subject to this sort of spying. And that the fact that everyone knows about it now, thanks to Edward Snowden, doesn't change the targets' ability to challenge the legality of the order.
That suggests a troubling possibility: that even if there were clear-cut evidence that the government was sending out illegal 215 orders, the people harmed by the government's illegal conduct might not have any way to stop it. Instead, the only recourse may be for the recipient of an order (such as Verizon) to challenge it in the notoriously secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But Verizon isn't the one whose privacy is harmed by the order, so why would it expend legal resources to fight it?
While that outcome might seem a little crazy, it's not necessarily wrong as a matter of law. The Supreme Court has ruled in some cases, including Gonzaga v. Doe, that there can be cases where, even though the government's actions may be illegal, the individuals harmed can't sue to stop them. That still leaves room for challenging the statute on constitutional grounds. But in this case, Pauley dismissed the ACLU's constitutional arguments as well.