Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Secrecy, the ISO, and the Left

February 14, 2014


Ross Wolfe, who edits the website The Charnel House has posted a number of internal documents of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) online. He claims that a disgruntled ISO member gave him these documents. At first, I was not sure what to think about this. (Personal disclosure: I am a former member of the ISO.) Mike Ely, who edits the Kasama Project website, has written an open letter to Wolfe, asking him to take the documents down. The letter is well-argued and well worth reading. Among other things, he points out:

    If we are to have necessary security cultures (and private debates) within specific left circles — we must of necessity respect the security and privacy of other organizations (even ones we consider wrong, corrupt or compromised.)

I agree with this. If the Left is going to be anything more than a sectarian hellhole, some standards of behavior need to be maintained.

I remember when I was in the ISO, their whole practice of having secret internal documents struck me as unnecessary and impractical. However, I never objected to it, mainly because I didn’t see it as important. (I remember once asking a “cadre” why we had secret documents. He replied that “sectarians” would take people’s arguments out of context and ascribe to the ISO positions that it doesn’t hold. In hindsight, I realize I should have pointed out to him that the “sectarians” were already doing this with the articles in Socialist Worker.)

I have recently discovered that some people see the ISO’s secrecy as extremely important. These people are mostly NOT in the ISO. When you do things secretly, people assume you have something to hide. Of course, I realize that in some cases secrecy is necessary, as when when a group is being targeted by the police. Aside from such situations, I believe that openness is the best policy.

In response to Ely’s letter, Wolfe has said he will take down the documents. (Except for one bulletin that deals with a controversy I will discuss in a future post.)


January 20, 2014


The Scientific American has posted an article debunking the story that there was a spike in infant mortality rates in the Pacific Northwest immediately following the Fukushima nuclear accident. This was the first in a series of alarmist stories that have come out about that disaster, the latest of these being that the floor of the Pacific ocean is covered with dead animals. (This has also been debunked.) An interesting question here is why do people make up these stories. The Fukushima disaster is something we should all be concerned, and outraged, about, and the people responsible for it should be held accountable, but what is accomplished by making false claims about it? Do some anti-nuclear activists think that they can advance their cause by making false claims? They are deluded if they think so.

Some people actually seem to take a perverse pleasure in the idea that the sky is falling. Consider the popularity of the patently absurd “Mayan Prophecy” hoax. Perhaps this helps to explain the popularity of conspiracy theories, which portray us as helpless victims of a small, secret group of individuals.

The Satire Glut

December 26, 2013


A story has been circulating on social media lately that Pope Francis declared that “all religions are true.” The problem here is that the Pope never said that. According to this story comes from a satirical website called Diversity Chronicles. This is not the first time I’ve seen people on social media mistake a satirical article for a real story. There has been a proliferation of satirical websites in recent years, inspired, no doubt, by the success of The Onion. The problem here is not just that most of these sites aren’t that funny, but that they’re leading to false stories and rumors circulating on the Internet. And there’s already a lot of false information on the Internet as it is. Perhaps what we need is a moratorium on new satirical sites.

M.I.A Knew about N.S.A. Spying Three Years Before News Media Did

June 23, 2013


In 2010, the British pop singer, M.I.A., released a song called “The Message”, which contains the line: “Your headphones connected to your iPhone / Your iPhone’s connected to the Internet / The Internet’s connected to the Google / The Google’s connected to the Government.” Which is an accurate description of what’s been going on.

The Justice Department has just announced its plans to charge Edward Snowden with espionage. It seems that the government and its supporters in the news media are outraged that an N.S.A. employee dared to tell the American people what any intelligent person could have guessed.

What Were They Thinking?

June 12, 2013

Edward Snowden

To me, the most astonishing thing about the most recent scandal plaguing the government is that the Obama Administration actually believed that it could keep such an immense operation a secret. I remember that when I would argue with 9/11 conspiracy theorists, one of the points I would make was that the conspiracy they were describing would have involved so many participants that it would have been impossible to keep it a secret. (This argument is even more powerful when applied to the “moon landing was a hoax” conspiracy theory.) It now appears that those supposedly hard-nosed realists who control our national security apparatus are every bit as na├»ve as those 9/11 Truthers. A sobering revelation.

If Edward Snowden hadn’t spilled the beans about this, somebody else would have eventually done so. It was only a matter of time. This hasn’t prevented the punditocracy from vilifying Snowden, calling him, among other things, a “narcissist”, as if these people weren’t obvious narcissists themselves. It shows you how much the War on Terror has corrupted our society that many of our journalists don’t even pretend to care about civil liberties and government transparency any more.

One must also question the intelligence of the corporate executives who went along with this insane scheme. At least one person has pointed out that this scandal threatens the future of the whole U.S. Internet industry. I guess maybe these guys aren’t so smart after all.

It’s always good to see the one percent make fools out of themselves.

Big Brother

June 7, 2013


The recent revelations about massive government spying on the American people should come as no surprise. Indeed, they merely confirm what many of us have suspected for quite some time now. It’s worth noting here that all this obsessive information gathering did not prevent the Boston Marathon bombings from happening. The reason for this should be obvious: no terrorist with half a brain is going to discuss his plans over a cell phone or over the Internet. Even the Tsarnaev brothers, who weren’t exactly the brightest bulbs, knew better than that.

So, how concerned should we be about this? As long as you aren’t doing anything illegal, you shouldn’t be too concerned. The government, however, keeps expanding the boundaries of what is illegal. (In New York state, for example, it is now a felony to annoy a police officer. During the time I lived in New York, I got the impression that the cops there were a bit touchy. I imagine it can’t be that hard to annoy them.)

The Internet is a useful organizing tool, but it clearly has its limits and it should be used with caution. Those who have argued that the Internet is the solution to all the Left’s problems should reconsider their position. It’s clear that the Left can’t rely solely upon the Internet.

How People Find Me

May 14, 2012

I’m always curious about the ways people find my website. Here are some of the search engine terms people have used during the past few days to find my website:

    the pope strippers
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    well, i found the anarchists
    canvas couple painting
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I’m not an expert on how search engines work, so I don’t know how these terms led to my blog. What’s even more troubling to me, though, is that I will never know for sure whether or not these people found what they were looking for on my site.