Sunday, August 14, 2016

Zero Days Spoiler Alert

The movie Zero Days answers a lot of questions, but it poses so many more, that I think any good review should be a spoiler.  We are left to wonder and search for what's next, how foolish people with power and financial resources will be, and how clever the better and worse technologists around the world will prove to be while struggling against each other to make things the way they want them to be.

Personally, I'd like to see Siemens spend a few million on a court case against the U.S. government to win a settlement that would pay for A) replacing all existing PLCs that are affected by Stuxnet so that they are not vulnerable to the malware as they currently are, and B) explicate the exploits that were used well enough for the creators of the software containing them to remove them.

My observations on the state of the audience and my personal desire for Siemens are not the reason I'm writing this post.  I wrote those paragraphs in order to provide a setting from which I can propose my theory and hopefully get some of the most important minds working on solving the problem of corruption (if they aren't already).

The ostensible goal of Stuxnet was to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program.  The effect was to release a kind of masterkey to infect and control a variable but very well defined set of Siemens PLCs in any way a programmer wants.  Anyone can get it because it's everywhere.  The idea of Siemens PLCs providing useful logical functions in a secure manner is no longer reasonable.  We are vulnerable to the madmen of the world who have the programming skills.

The madmen of the world generally do not have the programming skills because they are too busy getting elected, whispering in the ears of those who've already been elected, or both, and that is NOT their fault.  It's ours.  Well, not my fault because A) I don't vote, and B) I have no respect for fake (coercive) authority.  So it probably isn't your fault either, but there are loads of people who still believe that obedience to authority is a good thing, and it's entirely their fault. They suffer for it too, which is ok by me, but we suffer too, and that's what I'd like to stop.  I think it's up to us to stop it.

The people who do have the programming skills will be hired by those madmen because too many software engineers (yes, Jerry, I'm talking about you) do not peer deeply enough into their work to see whether or not it will be used for good or evil.  Einstein and Oppenheimer come to mind.  My theory is that the money to be paid to the engineers who can modify the Stuxnet to create grand problems will come from taxpayers and be funneled through black ops for that exact purpose: create grand problems.  Why?  Because that is how fake authority justifies itself.  Check out the Peace Revolution Podcast if you don't believe me.

How do we stop it?  The answer is to make people like Jerry aware of what they are doing so that they can request that more light be shone upon it.  The Jerry about whom I write offered me some work related to "smart meters" and, because it was a government contract, I declined.  Perhaps it was a mistake for me to decline.  Perhaps I would have been able to brighten the lights and scare away some of the development of "grand problems" that I believe is going on.

I don't know if Jerry will ever read this, but if he does, I hope he considers how much his work is related to the Siemens PLCs targeted by Stuxnet and whether or not he's helping create instability in a world that is very altered now that the CIA / NSA / FBI has released this masterkey into the wild.

We are not powerless.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Bitfinex Hack: Bitcoin versus Hubris

Bitcoin is threatening those who have lived parasitically off the rest of us through clever use of the financial system.  The best way I can think of to postpone the demise of these fiat parasites (by which I mean those who don't need to put much effort into earning money because they have de facto permission to print it from the governments they serve/control/sleep with) is to make the price very volatile.  There is a moral way to do this, but as recent research has shown, bankers don't generally limit themselves to moral means.

The moral way to do this is to allocate a large sum of money and buy up all the bitcoin that is available for sale.  This would take a few generations and make several families not affiliated with the bankers quite wealthy.  This is one of the reasons the bankers won't stick with the moral means: it spreads financial power to those who earn it.

The alphabet agencies of the United States (CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.) have been engaged in immoral projects since they were founded, usually relying on the shortsighted and nearsighted and (actually quite normal) functionaries who, if they could see the whole picture, would not help for the average salaries they earn.  This includes analysts, engineers, coders, couriers, spies, law enforcement, etc.  If you don't believe me, listen to the 91 episodes of The Peace Revolution Podcast.  It provides ample evidence, rather than just claims such as I am making. Do your own research.  It's good practice.

I believe I have identified the immoral method through which the price of bitcoin will be made so volatile that most people will shy away from it.  However, some, such as myself, will simply profit from the efforts, and use the profits to help rebuild things.  The method, or something quite similar, has been called "The Doublecross" and involves the cooperation of law enforcement to avoid enforcing the law in the cases where the criminal act benefits those at the top, such as the murder of that stooge, Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.  There is a warning in here for all of you who are close enough to the powerful to derive some benefit from them.  Aside from any bad karma, you'll eventually be a liability, and your life will end for that reason.  Just walk away, my friends.  Walk away.

Essentially, powerful spy agencies, including the UK's GCHQ and the US's CIA, FBI, and NSA (and even the Kremlin and whatever components of Kim Jong Il's government and China's government and all the rest are responsible for collecting information on people) gather dirt on people.  If you want to hold some power, you have to be dirty so that the power you hold is really under the control of those who have the dirt on you.  If you think about it, this explains why both Victoria Roberts and Nancy G. Edmunds worked (and continue to work) officially and on the record to suborn perjury from Doreen Hendrickson.

This dirt-collection scheme can be used to leverage a large number of insiders in just about every company on the planet.  That's a lot of work, and not feasible, but if you restrict that group of companies to "Bitcoin exchanges" then it's feasible.  The spy agencies, we can assume, have dirt on people like Nejc Kodric and/or several of his employees, along with the same sort of people at other exchanges.  In short, they have enough blackmail material to co-opt bitcoin exchanges, and force someone to provide them with the means to commit a heist such what happened to MtGox a while back, and what happened to Bitfinex a couple hours ago.

Consider all the evidence and history surrounding the biggest bitcoin heists (take that link with a grain of salt - the author says "Billions of Bitcoin are still "missing" in todays economy" which anyone who understands bitcoin knows is impossible), and see if it seems like there might be some kind of powerful (politically powerful, like spy-agency powerful) forces preventing rectification of what is clearly theft.  Where is Karpeles today?  I don't know.

In a nutshell, the strategy I see playing out is that governmental agencies, on behalf of the people who want to control everyone, are deploying their massive resources in black operations to amass bitcoins in ways that will not make honorable people rich so that they can manipulate the price more easily.  Will it work for them?  I don't think it will.  I will profit from their attempts, but since I think their attempts are a net negative for my species, I will spread my theory in the hope that more people will profit from their efforts (thus, defeating them) as I do.

In fact, profiting from their efforts simply means buying when the price goes down and selling when it goes up.  Since dollars are the easiest thing to use to value stuff, choose a dollar amount, and choose a number of valuable assets in which to store your savings, and split your savings up between them.  When the value of one goes up (or down), sell it (or buy it) and buy (or sell) whatever has gone down (or gone up less) with the proceeds.

If you or someone you know works for one of these spy agencies, consider carefully whether or not your efforts are making things worse or better.  Short term profit is fun and enjoyable, but life gets miserable when karma catches up, and no one knows how fast she is.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I used to be Afraid of the Dark

My older brother slept in a pitch black room.  I idolized him for that because I was afraid of the dark.  I idolized him enough to eventually develop the habit myself. Now I love the dark.  There are a couple ideas that helped me make the transition, and I want to help you make it too, though not in a literal sense.

One idea is that a lack of light is a disadvantage to a victim just as much as it is a disadvantage to an attacker.  I wasn't really afraid of real attackers though.

I was afraid of ghosts and wraiths and poltergeists.  No physical evidence has ever been produced showing that something supernatural was responsible for any kind of suffering.  I eventually mastered something I call "apophatic" reasoning, which is a term I got from Mark Passio.  The lack of physical evidence for supernatural causes of human suffering is powerful when you understand how quickly and forcefully such evidence would spread.

Supernatural causes, philosophically, are impossible.  "Supernatural" means beyond the nature of the universe.  "Cause" identifies a relationship in the nature of the universe.  Supernatural, philosophically, is a euphemism for "I don't know enough."  Roll a die and it will land on a number.  Can you predict the number?  No, you can't, not if you roll it properly, and it's balanced.  That doesn't make the number supernatural.  Maybe you'll roll three sixes in a row.  That also does not make it supernatural.  If you continue rolling sixes and you cannot get the die to land on another number, then you can pretend it's supernatural, but any decent physicist will offer to analyze your die to see if it's loaded.  Perhaps he will not find the reason.  Would you then call it supernatural?

I wouldn't.  To give up the hunt for the reason your die lands only on the number six is to abandon one of the best faculties human beings have, reason.  It takes a lot of humility to study such a die for weeks and continually admit that you're still "in the dark" about why it always lands on the same number.  Humility is valuable.  It stops us from believing fairy tales.

The non-literal sense in which I wish to help you not to be afraid of the dark is to encourage you to keep looking.  Whatever it is that makes the die always land on six is a metaphor for how we improve the world.  Most people give up, and that's a metaphor for accepting fake authority, also known as relying on government.  When authority is not fake, it does not use punishment.  It has no use for punishment.  It even encourages the kind of thing that fake authority punishes, because that kind of thing (going against the advice of authority) provides great learning experiences.

Governments and police are fake authorities, which is why they punish people for breaking their laws.  A law is a discovery about how the universe works.  Watch a dog with a bone.  If another creature approaches, the dog growls, "This is my bone.  Get away or I'll bite you."  Humans, well, sane humans, do this too.  Perhaps we don't bite (or growl), but we demand that our property rights be respected.  At least we make that demand to other humans whom we view as equals.  Some of us don't make that demand to fake authorities, and that is because we are, figuratively, afraid of the dark.

When we speak truth to power, we are insisting that a balanced die will land on random sides when "rolled properly," no matter how difficult it is to show why a particular die doesn't have this characteristic.  After listening to some lectures on physics by a guy name David Harriman, I blame Immanuel Kant for the idea that it makes sense to give up on finding a reason for the unexpected behavior of the die.  I also lay part of the blame on him for the legitimacy of fake authority.

People like Victoria Roberts and Nancy G Edmunds use fake authority to hurt people, either because they derive some benefit from it or because they don't know any better.  Either way, I wish I were closer to them (geographically) so that I could confront one or both of them.  I'm not afraid of the dark any more.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My MENSA Bio

I joined Mensa a few months ago.  I found a place where members can enter a bio, so here's what I put:

I have always wanted to be a teacher.  I went to UCSD's Teach Education Program (TEP) for one year and decided that there was too much red tape.  Years later, I read John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education, and then a few years after that, listened to his Ultimate History Lesson.  The knowledge I gained that way vindicated my abandonment of the TEP.
I ended up being a teacher anyway, though not in any official capacity.  I learn software (or write software) and then teach others how it works and how it fails.  I learned about bitcoin and now I explain it to anyone who is interested.  I buy bitcoin from those who need to sell it and sell it to those who need to buy it.

Jeff Schmidt wrote a book called "Disciplined Minds" in which he points out that most people who go through a higher education curriculum to get a degree, doctorate, or other credential start out with a view to doing the world some good, but the system through which they get that piece of paper degrades that view, slowly (though he doesn't say so, not inexorably) replacing that view with the brass ring of monetary gain, peer approval, and public stature.  I was lucky that I chose the humble path of becoming a teacher, wherein this trend is more obvious.  Had I pursued math, physics, chemistry, or something as complex (and continued living off my parents and inheritance, and perhaps even putting myself in debt), I imagine it would have taken me longer to feel this change.

As a software engineer after the dotcom bust, my ideals were intact and I started looking for tools that would leverage the Internet in the advancement of mankind.  The increasing density of communication provided by the Internet seemed to offer an excellent opportunity for individuals with great ideas to have their voices heard.  I researched the idea of what is now known as "crowdsourcing" the search for quality writing.  A friend of mine suggested taking a look at slashdot, since it allowed members to register their opinion of comments on news stories in a way the machine could use to identify what the group liked best.  On that site, I learned about Condorcet Voting, so I looked for a site that was using it and didn't find any.

I then started litmocracy.com.  With my writing site, I slowly learned something which is now, finally, gaining traction: There is rarely a single "best" choice for a large group, whether we're talking about candidates, pieces of writing, or things to do.  The ideal way to handle it is to allow the large group to break into smaller groups of people who share the same sensitivities.  That means politics is no good.

My friend Brian Gladish challenged me on using the Condorcet Method to elect public officials, pointing out that any political election involves forcing the minority to submit to decisions made by someone they don't agree with.  It's a lesson running Litmocracy for five years drove home for me.  During that time, I followed Brian's libertarian thinking to its natural conclusion, which is voluntaryism.  Now I am the volunteer webmaster for a site that existed for many years before I ever heard of it, called voluntaryist.com.

School was designed, as Gatto's work shows conclusively, to remove the unique features of children that make them difficult to control, but excellent and conscientious adults.  It's the same thing Schmidt was talking about: normalize and regulate the individual so that all the individuals going in come out roughly the same, prepared to do whatever an authority figure tells them to do.  Stanley Milgram studied that too, and found that it's a horrible scourge to the human race, but subtle enough that most people let it go.  Lord Acton put it this way: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  J.R.R. Tolkien turned it into a long saga in which two basically innocent people let it ultimately drag them into a pit of lava.

Tolkien's tale offers us hope.  The reason they both fell into that lava was because one of them knew that's where the ring belonged.  So who am I?  What am I?  I am, to most people, a meat suit, kind, intelligent, hopeful, cynical about authority, but optimistic about normal human beings.  To myself, I am the spirit of disclosure, an old soul working on a problem "The One" created for itself, which is this: How quickly can consciousness make an otherwise mechanistic universe identify and then maximize and realize the potential for joy?  I shine light in dark places, and encourage others to follow suit.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Welcome to the Uber Economy

This came to me today through a comment on a post at liberty.me.  The comment was made by a friend of mine who calls himself Ned.  Here is is comment:

Here are some leads a friend sent me that reveal a number of ways of avoiding the command and control authorities of centralization. Some are already covered in David's fine essay, but a few may be new to denizens of Liberty.me, at least they were new to me.
https://s3.amazonaws.com/walden-reports/Manifesto-for-the-Uber-Economy.pdf

Free Your Mind

Dave.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Toward Voluntary Justice

I have been mulling over the possibility of building a voluntaryist justice system of sorts.  It is already in place in some form, but it is neither recognized nor coherent.  I can see the end result pretty clearly in my head: non-governmental folks flood an area with information about a specific person.  That specific person would be a "normal" state agent on whose authority an atrocity was perpetrated, as well as those agents who obeyed the authority and participated in the atrocity.

The easiest way to make this (already existing) "system" more coherent is simply by getting more people to recognize it. Beyond that, information about the locations of atrocious authorities will give those with awareness and information the motivation to saturate the atrocious authority's locale with the information about their atrocious behavior.

A few examples of atrocious behavior are: Judge Nancy Edmunds' attempt to suborn perjury from Doreen Hendrickson, and Judge Victoria Roberts' handling of Doreen's trial for refusing ("contempt of court") in Eastern Michigan, the imprisonment of Ross Ulbricht, or choose any prisoner who is in jail for trafficking in marijuana.

I wanted to be a teacher when I was young, and I have grown up to be one.  I write software, and then I have to teach people how to use it.  Or I figure out how already-written software works, and teach that.  But mostly what I teach is that there are horrible people doing horrible things.  Very few people like to learn that, and so I don't find a lot of success except among those who are already aware.

Perhaps you can help me spread the ideas behind my voluntaryist justice system by helping me find a better analogy than the very disturbing one I started using today:  No one likes to see a person killing infants.  It's disturbing and we don't like to think about it.  But when there is a person doing that, everyone should know, and that person should be kept away from infants.  I'm the guy who points out this murderer and says "Look!  That guy is killing infants!"  That's what I teach: There are people doing horrible things.  The more of us who know about it, the less it will happen.

In a room full of horrible and ugly things, one may wish to keep the lights off. Not I, for I prefer to see and avoid or rectify such ugliness in the world where I live. Let's turn on the bright lights in the ugly places. How do I inspire others to join me?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Proposed Talks in San Diego

I have proposed to give two talks to Mensa in San Diego this Summer.  Following are the details.  Feel free to contact me if any of this stuff interests you.  I think that interest in these things is growing because 1) they are important, and 2) interest in them is not yet high enough.

1. Anonymity: The Dangers and Benefits of Keeping Secrets

Modern technology makes it possible to have relationships with people through thin media like texting, emailing, telephone calls, and interactions through the Internet. These media allow individuals to misrepresent themselves. This, however, is not a modern problem. Trust has been getting violated since human beings learned to communicate, and this presentation explores the growing awareness of it.

The "Delphi Technique" will be described, as well as common political illusions and demagoguery as well as the problems that can be created by these things. We will discuss the solutions available to those participating in the growing awareness of them and invite questions for further pondering in an open dialog.

The Mensa AG Proposal process will be used as an example of a system that relies on some trust, but takes great risk in breaking that trust if it chooses to do so. As a microcosm of the larger society in which it exists, we will explore how the increasing density of peer-to-peer communications helpfully magnifies that risk, not just for Mensa, but for all systems exploiting the human tendency to trust.

2. Why is Bitcoin Still Around?

In 2009, something called a "bitcoin" appeared and someone got ten thousand of them for buying a pizza. At that point, the market capitalization of bitcoin was about the value of a large pizza. It has since died and risen again about 100 times and now has a market capitalization around six billion dollars.

Following are more questions than there will be time to answer, but audience participation always helps with that problem: What is bitcoin? How does one use bitcoin? How does a bitcoin get created? Who invented bitcoin? Are bitcoins anonymous? Who controls how bitcoin works? Isn't bitcoin a work in progress? What is a block? Does the block size matter? How is cryptography used in bitcoin? What is an elliptic curve? What's a "vanity address"? What backs bitcoin? How can I buy or sell bitcoin? What happened with MtGOX? Does bitcoin make it harder to rule people? Does it make it harder to maintain order? Isn't bitcoin mostly used by people doing bad things? How does it threaten the existing financial system? Will inflation eventually destroy all the value in bitcoin?

After a short introduction, this presentation will be open for questions, and everything is on the table at that point. The questions presented above may not be addressed, so be prepared to ask any in which you are interested.