Saturday, August 10, 2013


Latest chapter in the Snowden-NSA story involves an encrypted email service, Lavabit, run by Ladar Levison, and reportedly used by Edward Snowden. Levison completely shut-down the service rather than participate in what he described as "crimes against the American people". See a full report in The Guardian newspaper. A second e-mail service, Silent Circle, has since also shut down.
(Hat-tip to Ganga Seva Nidhi for the photograph.)

A commenter (myguardian001) to The Guardian article wrote:
On a positive ... this protest/battle for our privacy, in the long run this will turn out to be a good thing for the cause. Everyone on this comments section already is aware of the implication of government surveillance ... it's the majority who go about their business either not caring or not worried enough that we need engaged.
There's now a further 350,000* people who (if not already concerned about government intrusion into their privacy) will be made more aware of whats going on, and hopefully a good proportion will take a more active part for change.
(Me: * meaning Lavabit's clients).

Hopefully more companies make a stand, and more people are sucked into the debate ... we can't really depend on the traditional media outlets to spread the word (seems like they've all been gagged)..................Lose some battles, win the war ... patience, it will happen ... I hope.

Me too.

"Points of light" in the courage of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, have come into view through the darkness, one after another, though quite slowly. The pace seems to be quickening now. I hope that soon more and more points of light will shine, to join those already shimmering and form a massive searchlight to cut through the gloom, shed light on, and expand the much-needed debate on this very important issue of our time .

Glenn Greenwald finished his piece HERE thus: "There will undoubtedly be more acts inspired by Snowden's initial choice to unravel his own life to make the world aware of what the US government has been doing in the dark."

And borrowing, again, another point made by a commenter at The Guardian
There are critical moments in history - when the mob hunted down Ceaucescu in Romania, when the Germans turned a blind eye to grim reality, when the Resistance in France took enormous risks, when each one of us gets the chance to demonstrate which side of the line we are willing to live on.
So the govt can force you to collaborate and violate the privacy of your customers thereby damaging the reputation of your business OR
if you refuse, then you can give up your business.
With regard to ordinary people, we are on notice that all our communication--phone, email, postal mail, and conversations--are now subject to govt surveillance.
Last 2 verses of a poem by W. H. Auden titled September 1 1939. I've probably quoted these before, but they continue to remain so very apt.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages;

May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.


mike said...

Well, Twilight, history repeats like a timeless Ouroborus. Many state secrets have been revealed by the brave...can you imagine how many more there must be still cloaked in the shadows?!

Have you finished "Les Miserables" yet? This would be a prescient time to read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"...or start with her prequel, "The Fountain Head". Many are loathe to read Ann Rand, because they believe she represents capitalism in all it's selfish glory. Au contraire!

From Wiki:

"In the world of Atlas Shrugged, society stagnates when independent productive achievers are socially demonized and even punished (By institutions such as taxation) for their accomplishments. Independence and personal happiness had flourished to the extent that people were free, and achievement was rewarded to the extent that individual ownership of private property was strictly respected. This is in line with an excerpt from a 1964 interview with Playboy magazine in which Rand states 'What we have today is not a capitalist society, but a mixed economy — that is, a mixture of freedom and controls, which, by the presently dominant trend, is moving toward dictatorship. The action in Atlas Shrugged takes place at a time when society has reached the stage of dictatorship. When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then.'

Rand characterizes the actions of government employees in a way that is consistent with public choice theory, describing how in her view the language of altruism is used to pass legislation that is nominally in the public interest (e.g., the "Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule", and "The Equalization of Opportunity Bill") but which in reality serves special interests and government agencies at the expense of the public and the producers of value."

Reading her books may not solve our current problems, but they do offer insight into the societal-human psyche. "Atlas Shrugged" was published in 1957, at a time that strangely mimics our current dilemmas, 55 years after publishing.

Twilight said...

mike ~ What secrets remain under that cloak of darkness? Stuff too horrendously rich for my blood, I'm sure! :-O

I'm shirking my duty to Les Miz - have stagnated at around the half-way point. Stopped to read a couple of sci-fi novels. I do intend to carry on to the end though.

Yes, I remember you've recommended "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" before. I'm not sure I'd be up to another door-stopper sized novel though.
I asked husband if he had read "Shrugged", he said he tried once, but gave up; very unusual for him - he'll struggle on with stuff I'd sling after the first few chapters.

What gives me skin-crawls about what I know of Ayn Rand's books is the selfishness inherent in her philosophies. The idea that acquisition of wealth should be everybody's main aim. The "I'm alright Jack, never mind everyone else" attitude.

My view: We all are not born with the same level of abilities - nature's distribution of abilities is random - genetics has something to do with it, so does astrology, but it's still pretty random.

Those with the ability to become wealthy and powerful because of their fate-given abilities would best serve their species by giving thought to those less able, less talented by seeking ways to help them, not by handouts, but by ensuring opportunities are available.

In this I'm with Jesus's teachings (though what they did to his church and what his followers have become I am not in the least impressed with!)

Perhaps there are some good ideas in her books, but being lodged within such a really scabby philosophy they would quickly lose their lustre when measured against my more socialist beliefs (NOT communist mind you!)

mike (again) said...

I wouldn't prejudge "Atlas Shrugged" or "The Fountainhead" based on a preconceived notion that Rand has a selfish, capitalistic disposition. I resisted reading Rand for many years for that same reason...I don't support capitalism and greed. I based my deference to read Rand on what I had been told about her writing. All I can say is that too many people have an opinion of Rand based on hear-say. She has an incredible writing style, whether one enjoys her philosophy or not...BUT I recommend actually reading her prose prior to condemning her. I was very surprised at how different her books actually are versus what I had been told. Sadly, her writing converted to made-for-TV movies has only complicated the matter more. Start with the smaller book "The Fountainhead" honors the small, individual person still with principles.

BTW: I am more of a Socialist, too. I have to say that there is nothing wrong with Capitalism OR Communism when practiced according to true principle. Human selfishness and greed infiltrate all three of those philosophies to pervert the truism of each. My personal war is against corruption of the human spirit that turns everything to mush. But, hey, it takes one polarity to appreciate the opposite polarity...sort of the operating guideline of the universe. It seems that only humans are able to corrupt and pervert themselves and nature via avarice.

On another note, perhaps you've already read this, but here is a link to The Guardian's "NSA Loophole Allows Warrantless Search for US Citizens' emails and Phone Calls" that appeared yesterday:

"The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans' communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing "warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans".

The authority, approved in 2011, appears to contrast with repeated assurances from Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials to both Congress and the American public that the privacy of US citizens is protected from the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs.

...But this is the first evidence that the NSA has permission to search those databases for specific US individuals' communications."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Alright then - I shall find a cheapo used book of "The Fountainhead" and give it a whirl. :-) I agree that it's wrong to judge without having tried. A.Rand had Sun in Aquarius, Mercury in Capricorn and Mars in Scorpio (as do I) so perhaps her writing style at least might please me, if not her politics and philosophy.

Thanks for the link - I'd read it from elsewhere I think, but I enjoyed reading The Guardian commenters' thoughts. I often find commenters more interesting than the article's author!

As someone there said, it's like an onion with layers now starting to peel off, and we get to see what's beneath. Lots of layers still to go.

One commenter (Kookaroo) responding to someone asking what we could do, as it all seems hopeless said (among other things):

You raise a good point: what can you do about it? Tell everyone you know. Use the six degrees of separation rule. Urge them never to vote for a representative / mp who supports the theft of their privacy and the dismantling of the Constitution / right to privacy.

That made me look up "The six degrees of separation rule" - new to me, I live in a cave in Oklahoma remember! ;-)

From Wiki

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.

Twilight said...

mike ~ A coincidence, or synchronistic "thing" tonight on TV.

A new HBO TV movie was on show tonight: "Clear History" - we watched it. I was a bit startled to notice, twice, the mention and a view of Ayn Rand's book (and a clip from the old film) "The Fountain Head".
It arose because the inventor of a new electric car in the story line decided to call it (and his son) after a character from the book: "Howard".

The drama wasn't too good, sort of comedic, sort of dramatic, a bit annoying at times - at least Larry David's character was. The coincidental mention of that book was interesting though. :-)

Chomp said...

No doubt we are all controlled. I am for the privacy and deeply concerned by that control.

But I am not concerned by the things I can see.

I am more concerned by the things which are not (still) seen ...

Twilight said...

Chomp ~ I feel the same. The cracks needed to let the much-needed light in have begun to widen a little now - we can only hope that this will continue and we'll begin to see at least the shapes of those other potentially concerning things.

mike (again) said...

Well, I've never selected an automobile by its moniker, but I would be more inclined to by-pass a vehicle named "Howard"! I like his last name in the novel: Roark...I would find this more pleasing for a vehicle's name.

According to Wiki, many liked "Roark" as their pets' name:

"Architect David Rockwell, who saw the film when he visited New York City in 1964, has said that the film influenced his interest in architecture and design. Rockwell also stated that, at his university, many architecture students named their dogs Roark as a tribute to the protagonist of the novel and film."

Quinky-dinks always fascinate me...easy to dismiss as pure coincidence and happenstance, but maybe there is some minor cosmic collision involved...the fickle finger of fate at work.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Roark would have been a better choice, agreed. Super name for a dog too - a biggish dog anyway, whose bark might be an echo of his name, (can't think of the right figure of speech)- erm onomaopoeic?

Adding to coincidence, that afternoon I'd found a cheap trade paperback of the book, bid on it and won. I await The Fountainhead to complete the quirky coincidence or - yes cosmic collision is a very nice term. :-)

Twilight said...

onomatopoeic - fingers not ye awake!
Probably still spelled wrongly too.