We’re Such Good Little Slaves

One thing us Americans are good at is rolling over when our masters command it. You might think this odd since this nation was founded by rebels who overthrew their masters but over the centuries Americans have become surprisingly docile. For example, when Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on both foreign and domestic (for some reason that makes a big difference to Americans) some people were outraged but most were good little slaves and said, “I’ve got nothing to hide!” In fact the “nothing to hide” attitude seems to be the norm:

Despite increasingly heated rhetoric from opponents of government surveillance, a recent survey shows that most Americans would be okay with many kinds of Internet snooping as long as the snoopers told them first.

The results showed “a surprising willingness by participants to accept the inspection of encrypted traffic, provided they are first notified,” according to the researchers behind the survey, which was titled “At Least Tell Me.”

I don’t know what to do with the lot of you. Sometimes you make me feel like a grandfather trying to explain the reason for an old tradition to young punks rebelling against the man. No matter how many times I point out the weaknesses introduced by surveillance systems (especially when they rely on backdoors), fact most of us commit an average of three felonies per day, and purpose behind surveillance isn’t to fight crime now but to have evidence collected if the State decided to target you later down the road you don’t listen. I can’t even convince most of your apes to encrypt your bloody e-mail.

As much as I try to deny it the fact seems to be that most of you Americans aren’t interested in freedom. You seems to enjoy being subjugated. For the handful of you who don’t I think we may need to consider fleeing the country. This place seems like a lost cause.

Hate Potholes? Blame The State.

Although I’m pleased as can be that most of the world has moved beyond blaming the Jews for everything I’m not happy about society’s continued need to create scapegoats to blame everything on. In this case millennials have become the new scapegoats. Millennials are blamed for the failures of everything from Social Security to roads:

Millennials, they even drive different.

This key group of Americans is inadvertently creating unsafe conditions on America’s roads, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s. That’s because this younger cohort is driving less than older groups and driving in more fuel-efficient vehicles when they do.

As a result, their gas consumption is lower so they pay less in federal gas tax, which is pegged at 18.4 cents per gallon. This means they contribute less to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for infrastructure maintenance in states.

Here’s the thing, it’s not the fault of millennials that the roads suck. It’s the State’s fault. The State has decreed a monopoly on transportation infrastructure and, like all monopolies, has run it into the ground. Consider the way the State funds transportation maintenance: gas taxes. Now consider the decrees the State has issued mandating more fuel economical vehicles. It really tied its own noose but forcing automobile manufacturers to build vehicles that use less of the very substance that is used to pay for transportation infrastructure.

More importantly though is the State has done almost nothing to increase its own efficiency. Look at any technology that exists in a freer market (one that entirely monopolized by the State). Every year the products either become cheaper, better, or both. Consumers expect better products or a lower price. Producers want to increase profits, which requires improving its manufacturing efficiency and technology.

While personal electronics, automobiles, fabrics, kitchen knives, and basically everything else have gotten better, become cheaper, or both the same can’t be said for transportation infrastructure. Roads today are nearly identical to roads from decades back. Road construction technology has almost improved very little over the decades.

Judging by every non-monopolized technology we have access to roads today should be phenomenally better than the roads our parents drove on. Road construction technology should be at a point where building new roads or replacing old roads is cheap and fast. The fact less plunder from gas taxes is rolling in should be a nonissue because the entire process surrounding transportation infrastructure should be a lot cheaper.

If you hate potholes blame the State for failing to improve the efficiency of its declared monopolies.

ISIS Has Been Defeated

I’ve got some great news. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been defeated once and for all! I guess their headquarters was located in that hospital the United States blew up. Anyways, now that the threat of ISIS is gone the Department of Justice (DoJ) has time to focus on the real threat facing this country: the citizenry!

Washington (CNN) — Domestic terror groups pose a greater threat to America than ISIS or al Qaeda, a Justice Department official said Wednesday.

To help combat them, the department has created a new counsel that will coordinate the investigation and prosecution of anti-government and hate groups.

Adam Yahiye Gadahn, an alleged al Qaeda propagandist from California, was indicted in 2006 on charges of treason and offering material support for terrorism. He was believed to be killed in January in a U.S. counterterrorism operation.

Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who oversees national security at the Justice Department, announced the new position — the Domestic Terrorism Counsel — following a number of violent attacks or plots against the U.S. that he said were motivated by “anti-government views, racism, bigotry and anarchy, and other despicable beliefs.”

Emphasis mine. It appears the DoJ views the philosophy of anarchism, which is the philosophy that believes nobody should be a slave, on the same level as racists and other forms of bigots! I love it when the State demonizes my existence, it lets me know I’m on the right path in life.

But it’s this part that really makes me bust out laughing:

More Americans have died at the hands of domestic terror than the international terror groups that federal law enforcement focuses so much attention on, Carlin said, pointing to such high-profile attacks as the racially motivated Charleston church shooting in June or the murder of two Las Vegas police officers by anti-government extremists last year.

Do you know what’s killed more people in this country than anti-government extremists? Pro-government extremists (that’s right, the police in this country have almost killed their 1,000th person this year!). But, hey, who am I to judge?

Password Managers Compared

Now that LastPass is owned by a company nobody trusts a lot of interest in alternatives has been generated. I looked at several alternatives, ultimately settling on 1Password, but my time is limited. Fortunately I found a surprisingly complete chart comparing the features of numerous password managers. If you’re interested in moving away from LastPass or you just want to start using a password manager this chart has you covered.

Monday Metal: Loki By Rebellion

When it comes to mythology I’m always a fan of the trickster gods and goddesses. They tend to be the most interesting and make otherwise dull stories interesting. Loki is a great example of this. Thor might be strong and Odin might be wise but Loki makes sure everybody is having a good time.

Rebellion released three excellent albums themed on Norse history of mythology. We’re going to be listening to the song about Loki because Loki is fucking awesome:

Socialized Loses, Private Profits

A quip about government bailouts of private corporations is “Socialized losses, private profits.” When these companies fail it is at the tax victims’ expense but when they succeed it is to their personal profits. But government bailouts aren’t the only situations where this phrase is applicable. Public universities receive a great deal of tax victim money and often profit from it tremendously:

Apple Inc could be facing up to $862 million in damages after a U.S. jury on Tuesday found the iPhone maker used technology owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s licensing arm without permission in chips found in many of its most popular devices.

The jury in Madison, Wisconsin also said the patent, which improves processor efficiency, was valid. The trial will now move on to determine how much Apple owes in damages.

Representatives for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

WARF sued Apple in January 2014 alleging infringement of its 1998 patent for improving chip efficiency.

Ask yourself this, why should a publicly funded university be allowed to declare a legal monopoly on an idea? Taxes, which is to say the public, paid for the research so the only fair trade would be for any findings to be placed in the public domain. But that’s not the case. Universities can socialize the losses of research and privatize the profits.

Why do so many people whine when private corporations get away with this shit but say nothing with a public university does? I’m part of the club that views both with equal revile but, sadly, it is a very small club.

Drone Assassinations: The Only Thing Besides The TSA With A 90 Percent Failure Rate

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is no longer the only government program to achieve a 90 percent failure rate. Thanks to an unknown whistleblower, who will hopefully remain unknown, we now know that the United States’ drone assassination program enjoys an abysmal failure rate as well:

On Thursday the Intercept published a groundbreaking new collection of documents related to America’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles to kill foreign targets in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen. The revelations about the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command actions include primary source evidence that as many as 90 percent of US drone killings in one five month period weren’t the intended target, that a former British citizen was killed in a drone strike despite repeated opportunities to capture him instead, and details of the grisly process by which the American government chooses who will die, down to the “baseball cards” of profile information created for individual targets, and the chain of authorization that goes up directly to the president.1

90 percent of the people killed by drones in a five month period were innocent bystanders. I can’t imagine how that could possibly create backlash. Surly all of the people in the Middle East understand that we have to bomb innocent bystanders in order to defend ourselves from terrorists!

The documents reveal a frightening fact: the United States government has almost no mechanisms in place to verify targets. It’s basically dropping bombs willy nilly. Based on the success to failure ratio it appears that the United States only succeeds by random chance.

News From The Frontline

The United States has been in a state of war since 2001 (actually it was in a state of war before that but the war on terror is the war I’m primarily addressing here). In those 14 wars the United States has dropped bombs on a large number of Middle Eastern countries, held prisoners in secret prisons without trial, and expanded a pervasive surveillance apparatus that spies on foreigners and domestic people. Fortunately Obama declared an end to the war effort in Afghanistan. But that was then. This is now. As it turns out the United States isn’t actually planning to leave Afghanistan:

WASHINGTON — The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017, President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years.

This should come as no surprise. Obama has continued to drop bombs on the two countries he’s claimed to have ended wars in. But everybody needs to recognize the new definition of war. War no longer carries the implication of two militaries fighting one another in an attempt to achieve some mutually exclusive goal. Today war implies an expansion of empire through military occupation. The United States is playing the same game Britain did at the height of its empire without the honesty of just calling itself an empire. Instead the United States “brings democracy” and “liberates” the citizens of foreign countries from “brutal regimes” and “terrorists.”

Since there is no defined goal an occupation, unlike a war, has no winning condition and therefore is perpetual in nature. This war will not end until the United States can no longer afford to wage it.

Your Daily Reminder To Uninstall Flash

No matter how many times security researchers recommend that people uninstall Flash people keep using it. Yet again Adobe released an update to address a slew of critical vulnerabilities in Flash only so more could be discovered the next day:

Now today, Security researchers have disclosed a new zero-day vulnerability in fully patched versions of Adobe Flash, which is currently being exploited in the wild by a Russian state-sponsored hacking groups, named “Pawn Storm”.

That means, even users with an entirely up-to-date installation (versions and of the Flash software are also vulnerable to the latest zero-day exploit.

When people ask me for some easy recommendations to improve their security I tell them to uninstall Flash. Along with simple things like using a password manager to ensure you’re not reusing passwords and using two-factor authentication on websites that support it uninstalling Flash is easy and greatly reducing your vulnerability when browsing the Internet.

So once again I implore you, if you haven’t already, purge Flash from all of your computers.

Who Does The Work During A Labor Shortage

Neophobes always whine about automation taking jobs but what happens when there’s nobody around willing to do a job? That’s what Komatsu was asked when it became clear that there wasn’t enough laborers in Japan willing to fulfill the demands of building the 2020 Olympics facilities. Its answer? Automation, of course:

As Japan ramps up new construction in preparation for hosting the 2020 Olympics, experts believe it will face a serious obstacle. “The labor shortage in the construction industry could reach a crisis level in the next few years,” Martin Schulz, an economist at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, told Bloomberg.

To get around this problem, Komatsu has begun creating a new service it calls Smart Construction. A team of robotic vehicles scoops rock and pushes dirt without a human behind the wheel. They are guided in their work by a fleet of drones, which map the area in three dimensions and update the data in real time to track how the massive volumes of soil and cement are moving around the site.

There’s no reason why you need humans to operate earthmoving equipment. You can just as easily have the equipment operated remotely or autonomously. Komatsu’s solution appears to rely on autonomous earthmoving equipment that is guided by information provided by ariel unmanned craft. The unmanned ariel craft, which is operated by a human, scans the area and tells the earthmoving equipment what it needs to do to change the undesirable landscape into something desirable.

In addition to alleviating the labor shortage this solution is also much safer since no humans have to be directly involved in potentially dangerous work. I can’t help but reiterate that this future we live in is awesome.