Sunday, June 23, 2013

But What Will the Cool Kids Say About You...?

In case you don't already know, I'm blogging here now.

The idea I initially had for this new blog of mine was that it would cover a range of topics much broader than, though still not excluding, those of political economy. So far, though, it's been pretty much a political blog. I just can't help myself when it comes to the politics, I guess.

But we'll see where it goes. Hope you can join me there.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Anonymous to FBI and CIA: "You've been PUNK'D!"

Oh man, this has got to hurt any "intelligence" bureaucrat's ego:
Hackers claiming affiliation with Anonymous are taking credit for taking down the CIA's public site, exposing personal data from Alabama court records and pilfering e-mails from the Mexican mining agency, according to news reports. Other hackers hit the United Nations' site.

The CIA main site (cia.gov) is unavailable and apparently has been down for several hours as the result of a distributed-denial-of-service attack. A spokesman told CNN the agency was "looking into these reports." There's no indication hackers penetrated CIA computers or accessed sensitive information.

Anonymous announced the feat in a tweet. More here.
This comes just days after Anonymous allegedly hacked into the FBI's internal e-mail system, in which they found instructions for dialing into a conference call taking place between the FBI and Scotland Yard related to--and get this--anti-hacking investigations:
The hacking collective Anonymous managed to listen in on a conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard as the law enforcement officers were discussing anti-hacking operations, the FBI admitted today. 

Calling it "OpInfiltration," Anonymous members were allegedly able to steal a personal email which included instructions for dialing into the Jan. 17 private call. Today the group published a recording of the call -- which discussed the timing of planned arrests and identities of suspected hackers -- as well as the email addresses of the officials on it. 

In the call, a Scotland Yard official discusses a few suspected hackers in particular, including a 15-year-old that the official calls "an idiot" and another that's "just a pain in the bum." 

"Listen along, and laugh out loud at the law enforcement agents bumbling away," a description posted along with the recording said.
I'm no expert in computer hackery. My knowledge of computer hardware and software is pretty much limited to all that I really need to know to do what I want to do using a computer. But I have to wonder how much these feats are genuinely attributable to hacking skills and how much might be the result of people inside these government bureaucracies lending Anonymous a helping hand. There just may be some in those agencies who have axes to grind that may not even ideological in nature. Such a person could be sick and tired of being passed over for a promotion, or perhaps they're someone who's been warning these agencies for years of security deficiencies in their internal networks but were consistently ignored, so now they're going to teach their superiors a lesson, so to speak. There could be a variety of reasons for some FBI and/or CIA worker to turn into a "disgruntled employee."

But however Anonymous is able to do this, they are clearly making these government agencies look like confederacies of dunces. For decades we Americans have been conditioned to think that whether one may think of them as sinister, benign or heroic, the FBI and CIA are impenetrable, superhuman bureaucracies whose security simply cannot be breached. Of course even a brief overview of the critical literature reveals this perception to be a complete myth, but fortunately for the Washington consensus, most Americans don't read very much.

But they do pay at least some fleeting attention to the mainstream news outlets and they will see, at least for a moment, how these allegedly all-powerful central bureaucracies are really just as flawed and vulnerable as other forms of human organization, even more so. When you're able to fund your operations by means of mass theft and intimidation rather than by competing for patrons who are free to take or leave your services, you're bound to have lots and lots of blind spots.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ron Paul Question

Nearly eight years ago, flush with the zeal of the newly converted anarchist libertarian, I passionately advocated for abstinence from voting under any circumstances—forever. Four years ago, I expressed my doubts hither and yon about Dr. Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, sniffing as I had done a few years earlier that it was somehow not properly anarchist/libertarian to ever vote for anyone in any government election for any reason, even if it was for a candidate who was vowing to do whatever he could to roll back state tyranny and oppression.

As the song goes, I was so much older then but I’m younger than that now. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You Can't Say Nobody Tried to Warn You

It's Getting REAL in the U.S. of A.

(See the addendum at the end of this entry.)

"May you live in interesting times." I know a lot of people who think that is an ancient Chinese proverb. Wikipedia theorizes that it may actually have originated in the English language as no one has ever been able to find a Chinese source. It is supposed to be the first of three successively more severe curses, says the Wik, the subsequent ones being, "May you come to the attention of those in authority" and "May you find what you are looking for."

I would think that one should view being alive at any point in time to be interesting, but we are most definitely living in an interesting time by anyone's standard. And I would normally dig that, I really would. It's just that I'd rather not be living in an interesting time during which "interesting" is synonymous with scary as hell. As the urban youth lingo has it these days, it's getting real in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Striking Some More Roots

I'm once again pulling guest editor duty over at Strike-The-Root.com.

Check it out.