You Can’t Stop the Signal

If you research the development of communication technology you’ll notice two trends. First, when the technology first begins to gain popularity there are always government busybodies arguing that it must be controlled. Second, any attempt to control the technology utterly fails in the long wrong. When the printing press started gaining prominence the Inquisition wanted to control it to prevent the printing of heresy. While they achieved some limited success in controlling what was printed in certain languages, namely the languages the Inquisition officials that works in censorship knew such as Italian, the result was that people printed censored works in languages, such as German, that Inquisition officials were less familiar with. Today the same game is being played with modern communication technologies. Every government seems hellbent on censoring modern communication technologies and some states have been especially tyrannical in their efforts. Cuba is one of those states. But the watchful censors of the Cuban government have been continuously outsmarted by a bunch of kids:

HAVANA (AP) — Cut off from the Internet, young Cubans have quietly linked thousands of computers into a hidden network that stretches miles across Havana, letting them chat with friends, play games and download hit movies in a mini-replica of the online world that most can’t access.

Home Internet connections are banned for all but a handful of Cubans, and the government charges nearly a quarter of a month’s salary for an hour online in government-run hotels and Internet centers. As a result, most people on the island live offline, complaining about their lack of access to information and contact with friends and family abroad.

A small minority have covertly engineered a partial solution by pooling funds to create a private network of more than 9,000 computers with small, inexpensive but powerful hidden Wi-Fi antennas and Ethernet cables strung over streets and rooftops spanning the entire city. Disconnected from the real Internet, the network is limited, local and built with equipment commercially available around the world, with no help from any outside government, organizers say.

Never underestimate the power of kids wanting to communicate with one another. Unlike many adults, kids haven’t have the fear of the state beaten into them and therefore are more willing to flip it the bird and do as it wants. Combine this willingness to disobey with an amazing capacity to learn new technologies quickly and you have a recipe for rendering state censorship efforts impotent.

As long as we have states we will likely have attempts to censor communications. But you can’t stop the signal. Humans have an innate desire to communicate with one another and will smash through any barrier that lies between them and their friends.

Court Rules FBI Can’t Cut Your Cable and Show Up Pretending to Be The Repair Crew

In October of last year the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) pulled off the mother of all warrantless searches. The agency cut the cable service for suspects they wanted to surveil, showed up pretended to be the repair crew, and collected evidence while pretending to fix the lost service in order to get a warrant to search the property. Well a federal magistrate decided that that little stunt crossed the line and tossed the search warrant:

A federal magistrate is tossing a Las Vegas search warrant that led to the arrest of as many as eight people accused of running an illegal, online bookmaking operation last year from posh villas at Caesar’s Palace. The court found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s warrant application was “fatally flawed” and was “supplemented with material omissions.”

To obtain a search warrant, the authorities cut DSL access and posed as the cable guy, gathering evidence along the way that made up the basis for the bulk of a search warrant that resulted in the arrest of high-stakes gambler Paul Phua, his son Darren, and others.

Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ruled that the failure to mention that the original case was born from the “ruse” meant the judge who signed a search warrant this summer didn’t have all of the facts. Nowhere in the search warrant request, however, did the authorities mention that they allegedly saw illegal wagering on computers after posing as technicians who in reality briefly disconnected the DSL.

It seems like the magistrate was more unhappy about the FBI lying to the original judge than she was about the stunt being a complete violation of due process. Fortunately for the FBI they can appeal this up the chain. Eventually it should find a court more sympathetic to its needs and rule the warrant as good.

Make no mistake, the fact that the FBI agents involved in this stunt weren’t arrested themselves demonstrates just how much of a police state we live in. When law enforcement can do things like this without consequence then there is no hope of curtailing their abuses of power.

With All of This Surveillance Equipment the Police Couldn’t Find a Lone Man

Yesterday in St. Louis Park the police came into altercation with a man sleeping in his car in a Byerly’s parking lot. Apparently one of the employees of the store went to scope the man out, noted a gun on the front seat, and call the cops. As usual the situation escalated for a man sleeping in his car to a gunfight. Somehow the man escaped the parking lot and the mother of all manhunts (for Minnesota anyways) began:

Police soon converged on a home in the 700 block of 8th Avenue S. in Hopkins where the suspect used to live, and ordered anyone inside to come out.

Resident Ryan Coplan said his girlfriend was there alone when officers “came on bullhorns with, ‘Whoever’s inside, come out with your hands up!’ ”

Coplan, who said he moved in less than a year ago, said his girlfriend later called him and said the officers had “guns drawn, searched the house and went on their way.”

With all of the fancy license plate scanners, Stringray cell phone interceptors, and other surveillance gear the police have proven wholly incompetent at finding this single man. This just goes to show that pervasive surveillance networks are worthless when it comes to actually finding a suspect.

As an aside you almost have to feel bad for the police in this case. They ended up raiding the wrong address. If only there was some way to verify when somebody has moved out of a dwelling. Something like a Post Office notice of change of address, a lease or title to the property, or a billing account with the new address. But since none of that exists the police ended up having to harass an innocent women because she made the mistaken of living where a future criminal lived.

Nipping the Sauron Problem in The Bud

Zero tolerance police in schools have lead to some very interesting suspensions. One student was famously suspended for eating a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. Another student was suspended for drawing a firearm. And we all probably remember the student who was suspended for making a gun with his fingers. But it seems these zero tolerance policies have reached a new absurdity. A student in Texas was just suspended for claiming to have the One Ring:

Tolkien lore led a Texas boy to suspension after he brought his “one ring” to school.

Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the 9-year-old boy, Aiden Steward, in a playful act of make-believe, told a classmate he could make him disappear with a ring forged in fictional Middle Earth’s Mount Doom.

We’ll have none of your shenanigans little Sauron! At this point I can only guess what the next zero tolerance suspension will be. Perhaps a student will be suspended for bringing Mjölnir to class. Or maybe a student will get suspended for bringing a cardboard Excalibur. Now that students are being suspended for mythical weapons the options are limitless!

St. Paul City Council Finally Bans a Deadly Scourge in Our Society

It’s not very often that I can actually compliment government employees but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. For far too long now a dangerous scourge has plagued the denizens of St. Paul. This scourge has killed many, left children orphaned, and filled the hospitals with maimed shells that once were men. As you’ve probably figured out I’m talking about backyard archery. After waiting far too long to address this issue the city council of St. Paul finally made it illegal for practice archery in your backyard:

After more than a year of debate and postponement, St. Paul finally banned backyard archery yesterday.

The movement was started when Council Member Russ Stark got a complaint from one of his constituents about a neighbor who lets his kids practice archery in the backyard.

Watching the kids next door zipping deadly arrows all over the place is an unsettling experience, writes Kimberly Koempel.

And by scourge that has killed many I meant a harmless activity that has killed exactly zero people and injured about as many. This is a perfect example of some nosy no-fun zone neighbor taking offense to something entirely unoffensive, sucking the dick of a government official, and laughing manically as the activity is banned. Every second spend debating this issue and banning it was time entirely wasted. That time could have been more productively used by having members of the city council dig holes with a spoon and fill them back in again.

Personally if I had a backyard in St. Paul I’d be practicing archery every evening.

Settling the Vaccine Debate

I’m not sure what caused it but people have really lost their shit over vaccines in the last week. A huge percentage of my Facebook feed consists of people arguing about whether or not vaccines have helped reduce and sometimes eliminate many terrible diseases or if they’re going to kill us all. The side arguing in favor of vaccines point to a ton of scientific research and data collected about diseases outbreaks and the other side claims that all of the diseases supposedly wiped out by vaccines were in remission before the vaccines were released. It’s an incredibly heated debate with no end in sight. Until now! I’m happy to report that we can finally put the vaccine debate to bed. After all of this angry screaming we can say, one and for all, who is right:

For all of the medieval practices that ISIS imposes on the Syrians and Iraqis living under its rule, there is one area where the terrorist group has so far been tolerant: vaccines.

“An unexpected success of the polio immunization campaigns in Syria and Iraq has been the access granted to vaccinators in territory controlled by the militant group calling itself the Islamic State,” according to the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a humanitarian news service formerly part of the UN.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The Islamic State supports vaccines so we now know that vaccines are Sharia law and therefore a ploy to rid the world of Christians, Jews, and women. If you support vaccines you’re supporting terrorism!

Now that that’s settled we can return to arguing about much more important things such as the dangers of Wi-Fi and the secret Illuminati messages in every Katy Perry video.

Ensuring Only Established Business Can Play

The best thing about having a government is that it can protect the big players from small start ups. One of the biggest threats to established companies such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon are small start ups that develop innovating ways to offer superior services for less. Thankfully the state has established a great many regulatory roadblocks between start ups and their already established competitors. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a monopoly on wireless spectrum. In order to utilize any wireless spectrum you must obtain its permission and it has developed an auction model that ensures its permission is much too costly for anybody besides the already established companies:

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission raised a record $44.9 billion in the auction of so-called AWS-3 airwaves that closed on Thursday, marking the highest point yet in the wireless industry’s appetite for more spectrum.

Wireless carriers Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc and T-Mobile US Inc, satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp and others vied for new slices of airwaves to satisfy the growing consumer demand for streaming video and other data-guzzling applications.

$44.9 billion. While that’s a significant investment even for the likes of AT&T and Verizon it’s an impossible price for a stat up to meet. The auction model for wireless spectrum ensures only companies will billions of dollars to throw around can buy into the wireless game. Sure, the FCC periodically throws a few scraps to the little guy such as the 2.4 and 5.0GHz bands but those scraps aren’t suited for services such as cellular phone provision.

People always talk about how important government is to prevent monopolies. What they fail to see is that the government is a monopoly and it uses that status to favor specific market actors over others.

Monday Metal: Touch In The Night by Battle Beast

Battle Beast, for those poor souls who don’t know, is a fairly new metal band that sounds like it came straight out of the ’80’s. The band recently came out with a new album titled Unholy Savior and it kicks ass. So this week’s song is pulled from that album. It’s may be one of the least metal songs on the album but I like it so you all get to listen to it: