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This piece is a disturbing study of some of Assange's mental pathologies. As a sympathetic party and partially informed observer, I greatly enjoyed reading O'Hagan's writing about Assange's outlook and concerns. I laughed; I cringed; I would read it again.


What mistake? She has not done anything wrong according to this report. With only hearsay by a minor in a school setting, I'd be surprised (or maybe not ugh) if the warrant stood up.


s/mistake/slip-up/ perhaps, it's too strong a word.

Cannabis oil is seemingly illegal in her state, and as GP mentioned, she had three hours of warning to dispose of it, and failed to do so.

I too suspect the warrant will be discredited, that said.


The post is a bit dishonest regarding prior funding and risk.





That is not a realistic scenario. Not everyone kisses people of the same gender. Not everyone wears religious head garb. Not everyone vomits in the street.

A free society is one where people are free to question social norms, express themselves, and act in ways that don't violate others' rights. A society with ubiquitous surveillance is no longer a free society because people cannot freely and openly question social norms through action, express themselves, or act in ways that may be annoying or unbecoming but which do not violate others' rights. In a surveillance society, even one where "everyone knows", these behaviors are implicitly and globally discouraged by the act of recording all behavior and saving it in perpetuity.

I recommend reading about chilling effects < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilling_effect >.


Sure they can. They might choose not to out of paranoia or cowardice, but that already happens today. Chilling effects are the result of vague laws and inconsistent enforcement. Universal surveillance solves that problem, it doesn't exacerbate it. There's much less need to speculate about whether you will be convicted of assault for punching this person when you can review every single alleged assault of the last 20 years and whether each defendant was found guilty.


Or people might not choose to exhibit borderline behavior out of rationality. That is, in the recent past, there were consequences for borderline behavior but the leverage of any single actor was no where near the leverage you are proposing.

If you read the wikipedia article, you will find that chilling effects are not only the result of vague laws and inconsistent enforcement but also the result of any legalistic behavior that might cause others to self-police or self-censor.

As for your assertions about universal surveillance, I find your position has a number of serious conditions:

1. It requires total surveillance of everyone.

2. It requires totally unambiguous laws and norms.

3. It requires total stasis of society.

4. It requires total faith in system by the governed population.

There are two major issues with this position:

1. Society must transition to this system somehow and survive.

2. People and systems in the material world are imperfect and we have no existence proof of any social system which achieves anywhere near the requisite levels of assurance.

I can only see this kind of system working in a society with 0 or 1 people in it. That is to say, I believe what you propose is impossible to enact by its very fundaments.

However, you continue to argue that attempting to create such a system is desirable. Due to this, I can only fathom that either:

1. You are a naive totalitarian.

2. You are a long-playing troll.

Because of this line of reasoning, I must conclude that the attempt to bring your proposed social system into being will not succeed and that the intermediate state will be much worse than the present state as totality will never be reached but concentration of power will corrupt.

If you insist that your proposed system is possible, how will you deal with dissenters such as myself who will refuse to live inside such a system? Doesn't the existence of dissent mean that you cannot reach totality? Or perhaps you believe that such a system can be made to accommodate dissent? What if the resistance is violent? Should the surveillance state kill anyone trying to resist its total surveillance, total laws, total stasis, and total faith? That would surely solve the dissent problem but perhaps the result would be neither stable nor pleasant...


You will die of old age long before this society is even possible.


An excellent reason for us to not attempt to hasten its arrival lest we be stuck in a terrible intermediate state.


“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”


You do have a right not to be followed everywhere you go. Ubiquitous ANPR is essentially a police officer/power broker tailing every car without suspicion. This is more than a violation of visible privacy.


Why is tracking if done by the police in a "slow" way (ie: cops sitting at major intersections or keeping an eye out for a flagged vehicle) OK, but if it is done automatically somehow bad?

Should all of your server logs be manually reviewed by hand for intrusion detection vs. allowing software to do it? You are both trying to track down and also stop criminals...


It isn't tracking that is bad but suspicionless, ubiquitous tracking.

Your server analogy is badly flawed because it is analogous to your cop/intersection example. A more appropriate analogy would be universal connection/request logging at the ISP level. It's not OK to have all of your society's unencrypted Web requests recorded and correlated by your government. Do you think it's OK? Why? What benefit does it confer to the people?


So is universal tracking of everyone who walks in/out of a gas station / store also bad?

No one cares or looks at the tape of you walking around the store unless there is a reason to do so. Should all passive recording cams also be stopped?


You're still not paying attention to the words I have written. The word you are missing is ubiquitous. It's not about a single location -- it's about all locations.



  At a news conference on Thursday devoted largely to
  combating terror threats from the Islamic State,
  Mr. Comey said, “What concerns me about this is companies
  marketing something expressly to allow people to hold
  themselves beyond the law.”
The state and the law are separate entities, Mr. Comey. It concerns me that, in your mind, you have conflated the power of the state with the normativity of the law.

In the twentieth century, the modern state gained the power to destroy all life on Earth. In the twenty-first century, the modern state and the modern citizen gained the power of private machine-assisted telepathy, memory, and computation. The state and its avatars must recognize that it cannot and must not have the ability to exercise absolute power over citizen's thoughts, computations, and communications if it wishes to foster a healthy and free society.


You have it backwards.

The state and its avatars recognize that they can and must have the ability to exercise absolute power over citizen's thoughts, computations, and communications if they wish to fester in society.


> The state and its avatars must recognize that it cannot and must not have the ability to exercise absolute power over citizen's thoughts, computations, and communications if it wishes to foster a healthy and free society

This sounds lovely, except it's just absolute nonsense. For many thousands of years states have maintained the power to restrict citizens communications and almost since the invention of the telegraph they have been able to be monitored in some form. Despite this we are freer than ever.

Healthy and free societies are not built upon a base of unlimited freedom, that is all but anarchy.


Not nonsense at all, just an idealized view of things that doesn't always mesh with reality.

Freedom is not a static thing; it's a constant conflict between various parties. It's a balance.

Various entities within the government are always trying to wrest more control of individuals, more information about their lives, all with the justification of achieving incrementally better service to society and the world.

We the citizens of industrial societies need to come to a consensus as to how much freedom we should have, versus how much we should sacrifice for the sake of collective safety and security. We are nowhere near an agreement at this time.


Who said anything about unlimited freedom? Keeping a few secrets from the state, namely the contents of your mobile phone, is a very limited and modest freedom, and one worth defending. And having that extra bit of privacy is hardly going to unleash the forces of anarchy and chaos.


We are not freer than ever. The ability to make fundamental change in our political systems is more contained to a narrow and doomed range near the status quo than ever.

"Anarchy." You keep using that word. You are equating the potential for absolute privacy in communication with "anarchy." Do you have an explanation for how that is the vanguard of anarchy?

Freedom: Supposedly enlightened places like the US are governed under a system where the rights of individuals are assumed to be open-ended and expanding as new technologies enable more freedom travel, communicate, etc., and the powers of government are fenced-in until the people consent to extend those powers.


It is an interesting and revealing quirk, though, to equate privacy with the abolishment of the State.


Two things:

1. Hashes don't "sign" things (not directly anyway)

2. Hashes aren't unique in theory or practice (using a 256-bit hash on every 257-bit number will generate 2^256 collisions by the pigeonhole principle).


High quality hashes are unique in practice.

Suppose every person generates 1 billion files a second * 7 billion people * 1,000 years = ~3x10 ^ 28 call it 10^29. For a collusion among non identical files using a good 256 bit hash you get ~1/(2^256) * (10^29) * (10^29) = ~1/(2^198).

Or 1 chance in ~4 * 10 ^ 59 of finding even one collision.


Your math is off a bit[0][1] but you're right, it's a vanishingly small probability of a single collision. This is fairly academic though, when you're talking about an adversary exploiting weaknesses in the algorithm itself, and not a perfect PRF.

[0] http://preshing.com/20110504/hash-collision-probabilities/

[1] http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%281+billion+*+7+billio...


Ops, when counting exponents make sure there in the same base.




You're missing that OCaml isn't stuck in 1999. OCaml now has an excellent package manager, cool new features, lots of system libraries, and a growing community. What do you find out-dated about it? Check out http://www.realworldocaml.org


I want to serve a JSON response over HTTP, preferably from a standalone server (like django etc). Later I want to talk to Postgres and memcached.

Do I use this thing? http://ocsigen.org/ocsigenserver/ All the docs either don't do what I'm looking for (i.e set up a web server to serve some static files) or are broken links!

OCaml is actually what I'd prefer to use (since I had a blast with SML/NJ)

I'll check out that book, thanks! But I did just skim the ToC and it has nothing about serving HTTP. Serving HTTP is like my #1 use case for anything these days :/


For HTTP I always use 'ocaml-cohttp' (opam install cohttp):


For JSON I normally use 'Jsonm' but I've heard good things about 'Ezjsonm':


I've not personally tried them but 'postgresql-ocaml' and 'ocaml-memcached' look plausible.


I think all the pieces are there to do that (e.g. cohttp, yojson, atdgen, PG'OCaml), although perhaps not in a single easy to use framework.

Maybe http://rgrinberg.com/blog/2014/04/04/introducing-opium/ is relevant.



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