Internet

Life Saving Privacy

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 21, 2015

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LIFE SAVING PRIVACY

PREAMBLE

When the English Magna Carter was written in the year 1215 by a group of the first robber-barons it was because of perceived abuses by King John. Nearly eight hundred years later, in September 2014, Tim Berners-Lee makes a repeated request for an Internet version of the Magna Carter. His concerns relate to the abuses of governments and corporations regarding the privacy of Internet users.

Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.

The United States Bill of Rights, written in 1791 has freedom of speech in the first amendment and that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”in the fourth amendment.

The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. Within the context of 1791, speech, newspapers, assembly and petitioning the government, are all, at their heart, about communication.

Clearly, freedom of speech, privacy and personal security are closely related, some might argue that privacy is the foundation upon which free-thought, free-speech, democracy and freedom from tyranny rests.

PrivacyInternational.Org writes “Privacy is a fundamental right, essential to autonomy and the protection of human dignity, serving as the foundation upon which many other human rights are built.”

It should be simple to understand, it ought to be obvious – if we want any kind of freedom then we have to ensure our privacy.

In this modern era, more than at any other time, we need to make the effort to understand and achieve privacy. To not do so, is an abdication. There can be little doubt that many people have died, either because they lacked the means to achieve privacy or their protests were too bold – for example, dissidents in China, Saudi Arabia, Quatar, North Korea, various countries in South America, etc.

Perhaps you think “I am not a dissident” therefore I do not need to overly concern myself with privacy. Do you think you are free to advocate or make a payment to any organization, without someone else deciding that you are a dissident? The news you read or listen to, did not magically pop into a journalist's head, communication was involved, often from normal everyday folks. When visiting an attorney, why rely only on client-attorney privilege? If you forgot to mention something in a meeting with your attorney, would you phone it in or send an email? Do attorneys know the attendant risks associated with cell phones, both theirs and yours? How many attorneys actually insist on secure communications, secure meetings, have secure drop-boxes, etc?

If we wait until we actually really need secure communication – the stress of the moment will likely preclude clear thinking, and it might not be on the mind of an attorney, journalist, other dissident, etc. There is a really good reason why airline pilots use flight simulators to go through emergency scenarios over and over until desired correct actions become routine. We have the additional challenge of not currently being able to anticipate exactly why or when, privacy will be paramount.

INTRODUCTION

The article that follows is actually a byproduct of work that has been ongoing for more than two years. As much as possible, the technical jargon and acronyms have been avoided.

We live in a Catch-22 world. The need to perform due-diligence increases at the same time that the facility to do so decreases. As Preppers we know that the future is going to be harder than the present, that infrastructure will deteriorate and the ability to get spare parts and perform repairs will become increasingly difficult. As an example, if we were to buy a freezer, we want one that is going to last as long as possible, be easy to repair and run for a month on a car battery, reality provides us with the opposite – low quality Chinese plastic crap with bushes instead of roller bearings and built-in obsolescence.

In order to perform due-diligence we need to become experts in every field that our lives expose us to. We dread needing the services of an attorney, doctor, car mechanic, plumber, electrician and perhaps worst of all a banker – for example, how many of us (with mortgages) know when a recast is better than refinance? If you refinance and cash-out, what are the implications in your jurisdiction for maintaining a loan as non-recourse? Or, if you are getting married, what are the implications if you are in a common-law state, or a community-law state (hint: are you also marrying your new partner's debts?).

So in the area of digital-privacy, how are we to determine what we should be doing and why? We collectively rely (primarily) on our parents, friends, education system and on-the-job training to address our ignorance and the risks such ignorance introduces. Alas, our parents were educated in a system not much better than our own and for them (at the time) it was a much simpler world. Our friends are likely to be as ignorant as ourselves, if only for the sake of simple conformity. That leaves the work place, minimal training, annual performance reviews seeking eternal improvements without equivalent increased rewards and colleagues that every day look more like deer in headlights.

Digital privacy and data security are synonyms. There is no difference between locking our doors, drawing our curtains at night, keeping valuables out of sight in our cars, being careful taking cash out at the automatic-teller-machine (ATM), developing situational awareness, defensive driving and maintaining digital privacy.

It should be an absolute given, that you already:

  • Regularly use an (up to date) anti-virus scan on your computer.
  • Use your Web Browser's Privacy features.
  • When Browsing, block advertising (AdBlock Plus) and trackers (Ghostery), both links are HTTPS.
  • Use a privacy oriented Internet search engine e.g. DuckDuckGo.Com , make it the default in your Browser, so that when you select-text it appears in your mouse right-click menu.
  • Use secure email on a non-five-eyes platform i.e. non : US, UK, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand e.g. RiseUp.Net (a U.S. exception), ProtonMail.Ch, sigaintevyh2rzvw.onion (if you are using the FireFox Tor Bundle).
  • Keep all your critical applications up to date with security patches and updates.

The icing on the cake is if you already understand encryption and have your own public key that you make readily accessible to anyone that wants to communicate with you securely. To not do so is lamentable. The Doomstead Diner has already promulgated both encryption and secure email. The current preferred tool for encryption/decryption is GPG4USB here is the download page. Palloy, here on the Diner has created some excellent support documentation and how-to instructions (part one and part two and part three).

If you also use a Password Manager (e.g. KeePass), encrypt your computer's hard drive (and external drives and USB sticks, etc.) and use Linux, then you are a demigod!

The likely problem for almost all of us, is that even if we do all of the above – we become islands. Our friends and family are Luddites, mindlessly repeating the mantra of “I have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear”. That hackneyed cliché might be true if government offices were populated with law-unmakers. They are called law-makers, because every year they introduce more and more laws. More than can currently be counted. Exercise your rights or see them gradually eroded. Insist on using private and secure systems today, rather than trying to overturn a burdensome law tomorrow.

Australia already has onerous laws. According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News (March 2015) “Contentious data retention laws have passed Federal Parliament, with both major parties voting for the legislation in the Senate”.

Every day there is more new content added to the Internet than any of us could consume in a lifetime. So we cherry-pick the forums we frequent, the news sites we visit, the stories we read, the videos we watch, the podcasts and music we listen to, the channels we subscribe to, the tweets we re-tweet and so on.

Unfortunately being obliged to be selective, introduces significant risk that we will miss something important and we hope that other people sharing our virtual presence can diminish those risks by bringing things to our attention.

Activities associated with everyday living, getting and keeping a job, managing household budgets, social, family, church, parenting and other obligations, dealing with the happenstance of the crap that life throws at us, keep us all very busy and oftentimes very stressed. Too much advertising, too much noise, too many distractions. Never enough hours in the day, never enough money.

There are many websites related to Prepping, Surviving, Collapse, Resilience and Doom in general. RE here at the Doomstead Diner manages quite few of his own.

One of the generally accepted themes on all of the sites, by both writers, readers and those making comments – is the need for various kinds of security; Operational, Communication, Food, Water, First Aid, etc.

Digressing: You need to already be practising “security” – this is a 'process' not a 'product'. Waiting until a shit-hit-the-fan event will be too late. The challenge is to do so today in a manner that is not obsequious. i.e. Please avoid public displays of affection over your security “equipment”.

 

 

 

With regard to Security of Communication, many seem to focus on having alternative communication that will work after the grid goes down, which usually means having good battery operated two-way-radios and knowing how to use them. Or perhaps it means a scouting group can communicate in code, in the dark, to reduce the chances of friendly-fire incidents. Or people approaching a check point need to know a secret pass phrase. Or when calling home people are expected to use a special word that indicates they have been compromised and so on.

What rarely gets much discussion, is the need for secure communication here today before the shit-hits-the-fan. Some of the benefits are obvious – increased privacy and negating the need for self censorship – alas, those benefits on their own do not seem to be adequate motivators. Perhaps the lack of real anonymity, or the hassle of creating new accounts on difficult to access services, or the hassle of exchanging a public-key and copying and pasting obscure text is too much for most of us.

There are those that will argue that the Internet might not be around for long after a big event – bear in mind that the majority of the Internet's backbone uses fiber-optic cables that are unaffected by electro-magnetic pulses, waves or surges. The Internet was also designed to be resilient and route data packets around failed connections. So it could well be that the Internet will be around much longer than we would guess.

An Internet based communication facility with real security that can actually be trusted, can offer much more than privacy and the absence of self-censorship.

From a service-provider's perspective, offering complete anonymity is a significant challenge. If users can be completely anonymous, then how do you prevent people creating multiple sock-puppet accounts?

Across the websites that we regularly visit are many writers and prognosticators, for example; James Kunstler, John Greer, Nicole Foss, Gail Tverberg, Ugo Bardi (Club of Rome, author of Extracted), Guy McPherson, James Hansen, Albert Bartlett, Jay Hanson, Derrick Jensen (author of Endgame), Joseph Tainter, John Ward (a.k.a The Slog), many of the former writers at www.TheOilDrum.Com, Ferfal (Argentine monetary collapse 1998-2002), Selco (Bosnian Conflict from 1992-95), the late Michael Ruppert and so on.

Unfortunately few of us also have the inclination to wade through the heavier reading provided by the likes of:

  • Kill the password: A string of characters won't protect you (see here).
  • Dice Ware – a much more secure password phrase – for really good mathematical reasons (see here).
  • Traffic Analyses of HTTPS from University of California Berkeley (see here).
  • Nvidea graphics cards, what is GPU computing (see here).
  • Storing Passwords Securely (for multiple users) in a Server Database. (see here).

With regard to password storage (for all Users on a web server) its worth reading a short post by Krebs On Security, he points out a web site that names-and-shames web sites that store passwords as plain text (or using reversible encryption, which is just as bad). The site is PlainTextOffenders.com, the Archive is worth a look, it contains nearly 2,500 entries, only 5 of which are off-topic and an additional 5 are duplicates – it is riddled with household names.

Digressing: If you ever decide to share a NetFlix, Amazon or other password with a family member or friend, there is an article just for you on LifeHacker.com How to Securely Share a Password

 

 

 

WHO WE ARE

We read Doomer fiction, Lights Out, One Second After, et. al. and fret over how we might get home if the shit-hits-the-fan when we are away on a business trip or vacation.

We read about how best to survive off-grid or how to be a gray-man and pass unnoticed through a crowd. We ruminate about “Conflicted-Tuesday”, the optimum bug-out vehicle, what to put in a bug-out bag, or whether it is better to bug-in.

We visit as many news sites as possible, hoping to keep a handle on the big picture. The refugees flooding into Europe. Iran getting nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia running out of oil. The conflicts in the Middle-East escalating into a broader war. Nuclear reactors melting down (Fukushima). Nuclear bombs, electromagnetic-pulse, Solar flares, Ebola, earthquakes, tsunami, meteors, volcanoes, super volcanoes (Yellowstone), mega-droughts, climate change and the Methane-Clathrate gun hypothesis.

Even something as simple as weather could be the start of the next slippery slope, a bigger hurricane Katrina followed by a bigger hurricane Sandy, a winter storm in the north-east U.S.A that goes on for day after day, dumping foot after foot of snow and ice. Our deferred-maintenance fragile infrastructure and just-in-time supply lines can barely tolerate a week of disruption.

The important thing to remember about one of the “big” events, is that it is usually not the event that gets you, it is the consequences when the Golden Hoard arrives in your neighborhood, or the supermarkets are no longer being supplied.

The majority of us probably accept that the next step down in our “Long Emergency” will likely be much like 2008 and primarily be economic in nature. Resulting in more unemployment that goes unrecorded in official statistics. Then we wonder which bubbles burst next, health, education, sub-prime automobile loans, etc. Loss of jobs results in demand-destruction that ironically lowers the price of oil and other commodities, putting more energy companies and their suppliers out of business and more people out of jobs, leading to yet more demand-destruction.

The correct answer to the question “how much can you afford to pay for gasoline”, is not “depends on the cost of gasoline and my personal budget”, no, the correct answer is “do I have a job”.

Digressing: You should think of oil prices as having both a ceiling and a floor. This actually applies to all natural resources, for example Coal and Natural Gas.

In a rudimentary sense, the oil price floor is a function of the cost of finding, extracting and refining crude oil. Below a certain price it is uneconomic to produce the oil and it will simply stay in the ground. Gone are the days of easy to find, cheap to extract, light sweet crude oil. These days it requires either billion dollar, deep water, offshore rigs, toxic hydraulic fracturing or cooking tar sand in Canada to extract heavy sour bitumen with enormously expensive pipe lines that (would) span a large portion of North America.

The oil price ceiling is dictated by people's ability to pay for the finished product. That ability falls a little, each time the economy contracts and more people are forced from high paying jobs to lower paying jobs, or in the case of outsourcing, gone altogether. The reduction in disposable income is paralleled by a reduction in vehicle-miles-traveled ( VMT).

The floor rises, the ceiling lowers and the economy lies between being squeezed to death.

 

 

 

Then there is the true Black-Swan. Something completely unanticipated, with various national governments keen not to waste a good crisis and quickly stripping us of even more liberties, supposedly for our own safety. Increased militarization and thuggery from the police. Central and local governments looking for ever more ways to tax us and corporations inventing new ways to bend us over a table or lie to us (most recently Volkswagon).

Lets add some of the companies and organizations that have demonstrated a complete inability to keep data about us secure – in the U.S.A this includes Sony Entertainment, Chase Manhattan bank, Regency Bluecross Blueshield Health Provider, retailers TJ-Max and The Home Depot, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, the Apple iCloud, The Whitehouse, the Federal Government's human resources department the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Postal Service, Ashley Madison (the adultery web site) and the list seems to grow every week.

The U.S.A does not have a monopoly on the fiasco that is data-security, in the U.K. we have; Nationwide Building Society (2006), Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (2007), T-Mobile (2009), The National Health Service's Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust (2010), Sony Playstation Network (2011), Morrison's Supermarket (2014), Staffordshire University (2014), Mumsnet (2014), Think W3 Ltd. (2014), Moonpig (2015), Talk Talk Mobile Communications (2014, 2015), the U.K. division of Experian credit reporting agency (2015).

There is no shortage of catastrophic examples of data-security failures. More will continue to occur as we desensitize.

JOURNALISTS & SOURCES

You would think that Journalists would know better and would be able to properly protect their sources.

Summer 2013, Audrey Hudson a veteran Washington Times investigative reporter and currently freelance, reported to the Daily Caller that her home was subjected to a predawn raid by the Department of Homeland Security and Maryland State Police. The search warrant indicated that the raid allowed law enforcement to search for firearms inside her home. But without Hudson’s knowledge, the agents also confiscated a batch of documents that contained information about her sources. (see here).

2014 in New Zealand, prominent journalist and author Nicky Hager had his home ransacked by agents from the national police force. Hagar wrote “It is disruptive to anyone’s work to suddenly not have their computers and especially an investigative journalist’s work. There is now also the legal battle to get my equipment and files back untouched. There is no choice about fighting it. I have to protect this and other sources for life or why should anyone ever trust me again?”.(see here).

In Australia, journalist Philip Dorling had his home and car searched by the Federal Police accompanied by computer experts. Dorling's employer Fairfax Media issued a statement that said in part “A Federal police raid on the home of a journalist cuts to the heart of the operation of a free press, and is unacceptable ”. This was not the first such raid in Australia and will not be the last. It is unlikely that Dorling used encryption to protect his work or his sources. (see here).

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are names that have entered the contemporary lexicon of the cognoscenti. These men are bellwethers, showing the metaphorical lengths that we too may be forced to go. Snowden having to defect to Russia, Assange taking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy and under the equivalent of permanent house arrest by U.K. authorities at massive tax payer expense, because the U.S.A has it's panties in a bunch.

In an article about the NSA's mass surveillance, the journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote ; “In the immediate aftermath of the first Snowden reports, I was contacted by countless leading national security reporters in the U.S., who work with the largest media outlets, seeking an interview with Snowden. But there was a critical problem: despite working every day on highly sensitive matters, none of them knew anything about basic encryption methods, nor did their IT departments ”. (see here).

What Greenwald does not readily admit to, was the fact that he himself knew nothing about secure communication prior to Snowden's leak. Greenwald was brought on-board by Laura Poitras.

Digressing for a moment. Glenn Greenwald is obviously (now) passionate about privacy and has an excellent 15 minute monologue on TED followed by 5 minutes to answer a couple of questions. If you have not seen it, you should. Another excellent talk on TED is by Mikko Hypponen: How the NSA betrayed the world's trust – time to act

Also there are two must-see documentaries and a biography. The following are all online streams that do not require creating accounts (links verified December 16 2015):

  • Citizen Four 1 hour 53 minutes – Eye opening documentary about the Edward Snowden whistleblowing (or espionage if you are challenged).

  • Deep Web 1 hour 30 minutes – 2015 documentary about the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht (Silk Road).

  • The Fifth Estate 2 hours 8 minutes – Assange & WikiLeaks Biography, stars Benedict Cumberbatch.

All three are easily found as torrents, are worth downloading and copying to a USB stick. A TV with a USB port should be able to play them directly from the USB stick.

 

 

 

Snowden's initial communication with Laura Poitras was itself a challenge because Poitras herself had been remiss in ensuring her 'public' encryption key was easy to obtain. Snowden had to first use a common third party (Mr Micah Lee) to obtain Poitras' public key and initiate secure communication. (see here).

Having secure communication and encrypting computer files, is by itself not enough. This is especially the case in the U.K. and some other countries, where people can be jailed if they fail to hand over the 'private' keys used to decrypt their communications and files. See the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, or RIPA 2000. (See Key Disclosure Laws and RIPA). These U.K. laws are currently being updated, it is unlikely that the result will be greater privacy or liberty for U.K. Subjects.

Even BBC reporters are not immune. Jane Wakefield (January 2015) wrote an article asking “Can the Government ban encryption”? (see here). A sideline near the end of the article attempted to answer the question “What is encryption”?

Wakefield wrote: “Symmetric encryption systems involve two keys that are shared between two people communicating” This is plainly wrong! In Symmetric encryption there is only a single key that is common to both the parties communicating, the key is used for both encryption and decryption (this is the symmetry) and this type of encryption and decryption is computationally very fast.

Wakefield went on to add: “Asymmetric encryption – also known as public key encryption – is made up of both a public and private key”. This is incomplete; there are two pairs of public/private keys, so four keys in total. The public keys, which are sent to the other party are used for encryption, the private keys, which are kept secret, are used for decryption. This different path for encryption vs. decryption is the asymmetric characteristic and requires far more computation than symmetrical encryption.

When you visit an https web site, a symmetric key is created that is good for the life of the session, it is exchanged at the start of the session using a public key asymmetric hand shake.

Revelations from Snowden, Assange, Manning, etc. should have been enough to wake up even those in a coma and yet we all have family members that “just don't get it”.

Even John Brennan, the head of the CIA in the United States had his personal email account hacked. The security on the Apple iPhone 6 has already been broken. Time Magazine reported (June 2015) a “Massive Security Flaw in the iPhone and Mac” (Apple Security Blown) this was followed more recently (November 2015) with news from Digital Trends that the company Zerodium has accepted a claim for it's million dollar prize to anyone that can prove a hack of Apple's IOS 9 (see here). Perversely, Zerodium is most likely to forward-sell the hack to the United State's NSA.

Finally, there is one more journalist that really needs to be mentioned; Barrett Brown. “In January 2015, Brown was sentenced to 5.25 years in federal prison and fined nearly a million dollars, for the crimes of accessory after the fact, obstruction of justice, and threatening a federal officer stemming from the FBI's investigation into the 2012 Stratfor email leak”. This case looks a lot like a political prosecution. Journalists need to protect themselves just as much as their sources.

It is also worth mentioning that few newspapers take security seriously, only The Guardian in the U.K. offers easy access to journalist's public keys and also a secure drop-box, that last link goes to page with a (visible) link to https://tails.boum.org that actually goes to https://torproject.org/. In the USA newspapers appear to not give a damn.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

The BBC recently reported (December 2015) about the alleged creator of BitCoin (a crypto-currency). If Dr. Wright really is the creator of BitCoin and an academic expert in cryptography, then one has to wonder why everything was not encrypted and/or subject to client-attorney-privilege. Apparently “[Sydney, Australia, police] investigations were based on leaked emails, documents and web archives, including what was said to be a transcript of a meeting between Wright (a 44-year-old academic) and Australian tax officials”.

HTTPS

The majority of us have probably become accustomed to seeing HTTP or HTTPS in the address bar of our Web Browsers and at a rudimentary level know that one is not secure (HTTP) and the other is secure (HTTPS).

In the context of contemporary web browsers, that term 'secure' for HTTPS, means two things:

  • The data moving in both directions between your web browser and the remote web server is 99% encrypted. The 1% that is not encrypted is the name of the web site you are connecting to e.g. DoomSteadDiner.Net
  • You can be sure that the encryption key being used is actually from the site that you wish to connect to. This second part is usually referred to as being secure about “who you are connecting to”, even though it is actually an inference.

 

These two aspects of 'secure' are equally important. There is no point having the data encrypted between you and a remote web server, if the remote web server is actually that of an interloper.

There are two ways of achieving number-two; “being sure who you are connecting to”. It can be done manually, typically once per web site for the life of the encryption key (a.k.a. Certificate), which can be multiple years. Or it can be done automatically by relying on a third party to verify the bona fides of the web server's owner and digitally signing the web site's encryption key. These third parties are usually referred to as Certificate Authorities (CA's).

We almost all rely totally on the automated version of number-two; The web browser receives a web site's encryption key (Certificate) and verifies the digital signature using the Certificate Authority's so called Root-Certificate that comes with your web browser.

Digressing: There can be as many as a hundred root certificates managed by your web browser. In the case of FireFox, these are stored in a hidden folder, in a file called cert8.db

 

 

 

The manual way of verifying a web site's encryption key (Certificate) would be by visual inspection of it's fingerprint, a long number, written in base 16 (as opposed to base 10 or decimal). Ideally you would obtain the fingerprint by some method independent of the Internet, for example through regular mail or in-person.

Digressing: The DoomSteadDiner's resident security guru is Palloy. His (or her) web site has an example of fingerprint verification here. Unfortunately you are unlikely to get the fingerprint in-person, so you have a Catch-22 situation.

 

 

 

What follows are three instances that demonstrate relying on Certificate Authorities is not necessarily a best practice. Alas, many web sites are forcing the use of CA's by using HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).

Back in April 1992 IBM introduced the first ThinkPad laptop computer. Over the following years it won 300 awards for design and quality, becoming immensely popular with businesses. In 2005 IBM sold it's Personal Computer business including the ThinkPad brand to the Chinese company Lenovo. Nearly a decade later in 2014 things at Lenovo had obviously gone awry. The company had decided to include a so called man-in-the-middle attack in it's vendor specific version of Microsoft Windows. Called SuperFish, the software (AdWare) intercepted web-browser data from the Internet and injected advertising into the web pages.

From PCWorld.Com : “The biggest problem with Superfish isn’t the adware itself so much as the way it hijacks legitimate SSL traffic [that’s HTTPS to you and me]. It does so by installing a self-generated root certificate in the Windows certificate store—a hallowed area usually reserved for trusted certificates from major companies like Microsoft and VeriSign—and then resigns all SSL certificates presented by HTTPS sites with its own certificate”.

November 2015, Dell Computers has been found doing almost the exact same thing. From ComputerWorld.com “After Dell confirmed that one of its support tools installed a dangerous self-signed root certificate and private key on computers, users discovered a similar certificate deployed by a different Dell tool.

 

“The second certificate is called DSDTestProvider and is installed by an application called Dell System Detect (DSD). Users are prompted to download and install this tool when they visit the Dell support website and click the “Detect Product” button”.

The Lenovo actions are shameful. Dell's actions appear to be inadvertent. But it's not just computer manufacturers that represent risk, so do governments. Back in March 2010, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published an article describing how Security Researchers had presented “evidence that certificate authorities (CAs) may be cooperating with government agencies to help them spy undetected on “secure” encrypted communications”.

HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), prevents removing Root Certificates and manually allowing Site Certificates on an exception basis. In fact the way web browsers “allow” manual verification of a site's certificate, is up there with the idea of performing surgery on oneself. Self-Certifying sites are treated as “Errors” and “Invalid” and supposed extreme risks, none of which is necessarily true.

So far only one Prepper related web site uses HTTPS (UsCrow.Org).This site bills itself as a premium high quality site with plans to encrypt its database. Updates are infrequent, with no changes in over a month.

It is (currently) not free to secure a web site by using HTTPS. Though some entities are trying to address this, for example LetsEncrypt.Org.

HTTPS does make sense on banking, financial and health web sites of large coporate bodies where privacy is critical and the resources are available to ensure that certificates are kept up to date and all content is encrypted. It also makes sense on forums where private messages can be exchanged between registered users, but only if messages remain encrypted when stored on the server and the private keys are not stored on the server's permanent storage.

Finally, there is a false sense of security. Take the Prepper web site usCrow.org mentioned earlier. When you are surfing the web, there are typically a small number of so called data-packets being sent by you – via your Internet Service Provider (ISP) – to the remote web server you are interacting with (typically by clicking on a link).On the other hand, the response from the remote web server, is typically an enormous number of data-packets – containing text, photographs, music, video, the mark-up language that formats the page, etc. The encrypted content of the data-packets coming back to your browser are almost completely private. The only information available to your ISP is:

  • Where the data appears to come from.
  • The amount of (encrypted) data.
  • The time of day and time taken to transfer the data.

You might think that is not much, but it is enough to work out which page you visited on a site, with a high degree of accuracy. The potential achilles heel appears, when a link on a web page, typically an advertisement, is to a non-https site. The standard that web browsers are meant to adhere to, states that a Referrer-URL should not be sent when the link is from an HTTPS page to an HTTP page. The implication being, that a Referrer-URL is ok to send when the transfer is from a secure page to another (different) site's secure page. The issue here is not eavesdropping by your ISP, it is that you might click on a link for hiking-boots from a bomb-making page and your boot supplier would know.

 

Digressing: The Referrer-URL is everything that appears in your browser's address bar, which might include session specific items.

 

 

 

There are a large number of web browsers (Microsoft IE, Apple Safari, Mozilla FireFox, Opera, etc.) running on an even larger number of Platforms : dozens of versions of Microsoft Windows (both 32 and 64 bit), multiple Apple Operating Systems, numerous Linux versions, masses of Google Android versions (KitKat, MarshMallow, JellyBean, Lollipop, etc.). Trusting a standard has been properly implemented and also works on your particular combination of Browser and Platform might be risky.

Would you want to take a chance on the following page:

https://uscrow.org/2015/10/20/how-to-make-nitroglycerin/

DARK WEB .ONIONS & TOR

The-Onion-Router (TOR) is a network of computers on the Internet used to anonymize and encrypt connections. The so called Dark-Web is a collection of TOR Hidden Services (dot-onion web sites) that are only accessible using a special TOR configured Browser. In theory almost any browser can be configured (by the user) to access the Internet through TOR.

Digressing: Using a TOR configured web browser to access your conventional email, or any site (that does not also use HTTPS) where you are identified is a self-defeating proposition.

 

 

 

Silk Road and it's heir apparent Silk Road 2.0 were probably the most notorious dark web sites.

Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and ordered to forfeit $184 million. The following bullet points are all quotes from a variety of on-line sources.

  • Richard Bates, a computer programmer, frowning and reluctant, testified against Ulbricht at trial as part of an agreement to avoid prosecution.

  • Judge Forrest also read excerpts from Ulbricht's e-mails, citing them as examples of his disregard for others.

  • The story of five murder-for-hire attempts came out through a remarkable 33-page transcript of private messages that prosecutors harvested from the Silk Road server after it was captured by the government.

  • The payments for the hits came from Ulbricht's own bitcoin wallet, one more piece of damning evidence that his defense lawyers couldn't explain away to the jury.

  • “For those considering stepping into your shoes…they need to understand without equivocation that there will be severe consequences,” Judge Forrest said.

  • RT.com reports; FBI seized ‘Silk Road' black market domain, arrests owner.

  • On the Bitcoin Talk Forums under the user name 'Altoid' Ulbricht posted a request for an Information Technology professional in the Bitcoin community, using a reply-to email address containing his own name “rossulbricht at gmail dot com”. This same user name was used days earlier to promote the Silk Road dark website on a mushroom web site – one of the first known on-line references to the Silk Road dot-onion web address.

Brian Krebs, a security researcher, unearthed the sealed complaint requesting a warrant for Ulbrict's arrest. It can be read in its entirety at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/172778920/Ulbricht-Criminal-Complaint

What becomes readily apparent when researching the Ulbricht case, is that he:

  • Used his real name and email address in several places.

  • Attempted to have forged identity documents with his actual photograph shipped to his home address, from Canada into the USA.

  • Did not encrypt copies of communications and other user data on his servers.

  • Did not keep his passwords, private keys and bitcoin wallets adequately secure.

  • Spoke way too much when interacting with investigators (watch the 48 minute YouTube video; Don't talk to police).

  • Did not have any of his millions set-aside, so that he could mount a proper defense.

In short, Ulbricht brought himself down. The situation for Silk Road 2.0 is not that different, with a moderator turning informant and inadequate security procedures resulting in another, albeit, shorter prison sentence.

The following paragraph is one of the most important in this whole piece, so it's all in bold.

The Dark Web sites were able to be seized because, in both cases, the site's private key was stored on the server, with no protective measures. A well built system does not need to have any passwords, keys, or TOR critical files, stored on the server or hard coded into the software.

In Ulbricht's case, Richard Bates faced the prospect of prosecution and was pressured into testifying against Ulbricht. In the Boston marathon bomber case, two college roommates were prosecuted for allegedly hampering the investigation and were sentenced to 3.5 years. In Martha Stewart's case, they got her for perjury.

TOR ALTERNATIVES

  • I2P. Very similar to Tor, I2P is also an anonymizing and encrypting proxy. The developers of I2P have used different nomenclature (terminology), but as the table at https://geti2p.net shows there is considerable similarity. The author of this document is currently using Tor and providing a hidden service and intends to investigate providing, in parallel, the same hidden service on I2P. This document will be updated in the future to include details stemming from the investigation.

  • Proxies. There are many free proxies on the Internet. When using a Proxy you would ordinarily do so inside your web browser on a per-site basis. For example open proxy-free-web and type (or paste) DoomsteadDiner.Net into the only textbox and then click "Go". If you have an account on the Diner, do not sign-in. Judging by the quality of the English on the proxy site, it would probably be unwise to trust them. Indirecting like this is slower than a direct connection (via your ISP).

    When you access the Internet through your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the ISP is effectively acting as a proxy. If the site you are visiting is HTTP, then your ISP can see (and understand) all of the traffic that passes through it (in both directions). By visiting a Proxy web site (specifically an HTTPS site), your ISP can see that you visited a Proxy web site but nothing else. The site that you indirect to will think that you have come from the country that is providing the proxy service. When you use a proxy service like this, you have effectivly moved your trust from your ISP to the provider of the Proxy service.

  • VPN. (Virtual private network) These are similar to Proxies but do not work inside your browser and are usually intended for all Internet traffic (HTTP, SMTP (mail), FTP (File Transfers), VOIP, etc.). Generaly speaking, VPN's are more sophisticated, more capable and more trustworthy than Proxies. For example, if you wanted to use your smart-phone or laptop to remotely access a computer at your home or office (for file access or remote control), then a VPN is the obvious solution.

    A VPN allows you to simulate the security and functionality afforded by a Local Area Network (LAN), over an Internet connection.

    Digressing: TheRegister.co.uk has reported (December 2015) that Juniper Systems, a rival to Cisco, has since 2008 been providing VPN management software that has been compromised.

     

     

     

GENERIC TOOLS

The purpose of this article is not to provide step-by-step instructions on how to achieve privacy, or to critique the many tools that are available. But for the sake of completeness the following is worth adding. There are plenty of options for improving your privacy. Starting with the absolute basics, you should always use your web browser's Private mode. In Mozilla FireFox this is set under Options, Privacy. For other browsers, privacy can be made the default by adding a command line argument in your desktop (or menu) shortcut. For (Windows) step-by-step instructions see: How to start any browser in private mode.

  • Google Chrome uses …\Chrome\Application\Chrome.exe -incognito
  • Microsoft IE uses “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe” -private
  • Opera uses “C\Program Files (x86)\Opera\Opera.exe” -newprivatetab

The web site PrivacyTools.io does an excellent job of covering most common computer privacy issues (on desktops, smart phones and routers) including VPN's and a brief explanation of what a Warrant-Canary is.

WRAPPING UP

It is a significant challenge be to be part of modern society and not to have already had our privacy compromised by someone else's data breach.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter and it is not for business reasons, then shut that nonsense down as soon as possible. Sotto voce conversations are not private.

 

 

 

 

 

Anonymous Million Mask March

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/OZJwSjor4hM/0.jpgKnowledge is Free

We are Anonymous

We are Legion

We do not Forgive

We do not Forget

Expect Us

 

November 5th Million Mask March

 

Homeless Internet Admin Electronic Preps

Internet-Junkiegc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 25, 2015

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LAST CHANCE HERE TO TAKE THE COLLAPSE PYSCHOLOGICAL PROFILE TEST BEFORE THE FIRST COUNT!

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a really fine article about how to negotiate and survive becoming Homeless, Homeless Survival : Practical Tips And Advice Derived From Personal Experience

In this article, the author details many good strategies for the Homeless person to continue onward looking like more or less a "normal" person who still has a home, although he didn't go over Homeless Cooking in the detail I have in some of my SNAP Card Gourmet articles.  He also covered maintaining Internet communications to an extent, using the Free Wi-Fi available in many places, but this was not detailed enough for me, because I am more of an Internet Junkie than most people.  So in this article I am going to detail all the hardware you need to not just get on the net, but to be able to Admin your websites, keep your hardware charged and operational, etc.

Internet-JunkieFirst thing for me is this is an ESSENTIAL, almost as important as my Food Preps!  I run or co-Admin about a dozen different Collapse Websites on the net now.  They are:

collapse.global Portal

Doomstead Diner Blog

Doomstead Diner Forum

Doomstead Diner Facebook

Doomstead Diner Twitter

Collapse Cafe You Tube

Collapse Cafe Soundcloud

Collapse Surveys

Doomstead Diner Legacy Blog

r/globalcollapse Reddit Sub

r/overshoot Reddit Sub

So I have a LOT of Internet responsibilities now to my fellow Kollapsniks TM!  It's obviously important to ME to run these sites (keeps me bizzy!), but it is important to the rest of the Diners too, and I don't want to let them down and not keep running these sites even if I become Homeless!  Which granted is not an immediate possibility since I still have money in the bank and the monetary system here in the FSoA is still working and there is a decent chance I will get my Bennies after becoming Disabled and a few Diners have offered me Shelter in the worst case scenario, but still I could become Homeless and without an official net connection and my own source of electric grid power for at least a period of time.  This could happen if for instance we had a major quake up here in the Mat Valley or if Mount Redoubt blows and drops a few inches of ashfall down which collapses the roof of my digs or there is a big wildfire in the neighborhood and I have to Bugout FAST!  Many Possbilities exist for my ability to Admin my websites to be compromised in some way!

Can I bring my Laptop and home electric security preps with me?  I have stuff like a generator, Deep Cycle Batteries, large solar panels, the WORKS here to survive a temporary loss of power in my location as long as the roof is still over my head and I can pay the rent.  However, either in a fast bugout situation or in the long term homeless situation, I can't be hauling these preps around with me all the time.  The Deep Cycle Lead-Acid Batteries are HEAVY!  The Yamaha Generator while probably the lightest and smallest in its class is ALSO pretty heavy.  So you can nix both of those for the Homeless person, although you probably could keep them in a Storage Unit.  No, what I need is a compact & lightweight kit for maintaining my websites in all but the most dire circumstances where the internet itself goes dark.  Then this whole bizness is OVAH and it is my time to Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  When the Internet Goes Dark TM, so does RE.  No more Reason to Live.  LOL.

What my goal here in creating the Internet Admin Survival Package TM was  was to put together everything I need to maintain connection to the net and do my Admin tasks until the day arrives that the Internet Goes Dark TM.  Most of the items in my Kit I already had, but I just invested in another couple I deemed necessary to complete the kit this week.  I will detail what they are as I go through the kit items.

bugout-electronics

#1- Smart Phone/Tablet Computer

The CRITICAL item in your kit is your Smart Phone.  Your choice of phones is important here, and you also need BACKUP!  This was driven home to me during our Diner Convocation down in Texas in 2014.  On that occassion, I destroyed my original Galaxy Mega Smartphone by dropping it on the concrete parking lot of our Motel Hell estabishment in ButtFuck TX where we stayed for the course in building Monolithic Domes.  In order to resolve this unfortunate problem, I had to borrrow Eddie's Mercedes and drive to the nearest ATT Store (a couple of hours away) to purchase a NEW Galaxy Mega at the full price of around $650 at the time.  Upon returning home, I was able to get yet another one of these devices for $150 off the Insurance Plan for having your device lost, stolen or broken, and I also have an older Iphone 4 which still works in the kit as well.  So triple backup on this lynchpin item.  If one craps out, I simply shift the SIM card over to another one and it connects to my ATT account., back on the net to do my Admin tasks. 🙂

The main PROBLEM with smart phones is generally their SIZE, and the fact they do not sport a real Keyboard.  You need to be a real Thumb Jockey to be able to even write a Twitter message of 140 Characters, much less the 3000 word articles I usually will write (like this one!  lol.)  So your Smart Phone is no good for real Admin work without a KEYBOARD!  "Have Keyboard, Will Travel!" 🙂

#2- Keyboard & Mouse

Perhaps some people can get along without these devices, but for myself doing Admin tasks without them is ridiculously difficult.  Fortunately, Folding Bluetooth Keyboards and Bluetooth Mice are available for the Android OP system the Galaxy Mega runs on, and in fact they work with the Apple shit too, so in the worst case scenario BOTH of my Galaxy Megas crap out, I can still use my Folding Keyboard and Bluetooth Mouse with the old Iphone.  Still a ridiculously tiny screen to work on though, so I hope things don't get that bad.  lol.

#3 Electricity

None of the above preps work without some access to electricity to keep them all charged up and operating.  You probably do want your own means of keeping your Comunications Equipment charged up, so I did invest in a couple of new items this week for this purpose.  First was a Folding 6.5A 5V output solar PV Array I could fit in my Kit Sack.  Probably not too necessary in most circumstances on the Homeless paradigm, I'll probably be able to keep my devices charged by going to the Library, a Coffee Shop and so forth and plugging in to their Grid Power..  For this purpose I bought  20,000 Mah external Li-I Battery which I can use to recharge the cell phone and the various other devices in the kit.  In conjunction with the Solar PV panels, on a decently sunny day in about 4 hours I should be able to charge up this battery in about 4 hours, and that then will enable me to keep the Smart Phones and Cameras and Diode Lites all charged up.

#4 Lighting

Since the smart phones themselves are lit up, you don't absolutely need auxiliary lighting.  However, if you are in a Tent or some other temporary shelter and want to be able to see your keyboard, you are going to want some other lighting besides the Smartphone itself.  Besides that, the Diode Emergency Lighting often is set up so that not only can your Crank Charge the light itself, but you can ALSO use this to charge your Smart Phone! 🙂

I have 4 lights in the Emergency Kit bag.  2 are Crank Lights, and also can serve to charge up my Smart Phone.

Light 1-  A Crank Up emergency flashlight which also has AM/FM Radio and can charge my smart phone.

Light 2-  A Lantern style Crank Up to give me enough light to keyboard by and also charge the Smart Phone

Light 3- A POWERHOUSE 350 Lumen Flashlight which runs on 3 AAA Batteries, rechargeable or single use, whatever I can get hold of.  This little light by itself can light up your entire digs pointed at the ceiling.  350 Lumens is BRIGHT!  You do not need any more than this to light up a room anywhere.    Trust me on this and do not look directly into the light.  You will go BLIND in an instant.  LOL

Light 4- A 100 Lumen flashlight which stands on it's own tripod and can be used together with my Camera in low light conditions to do an Interview.  Also works on 3 AAA rechargeable or single use batteries.

Ancillary Items

I have a few items in the Kit not absolutely necessary for my Homeless Internet Admin work:

GPS Units:  Not necessary for most circumstances, but handy for Locating myself anywhere if I need help from another Diner.  I can issue out the Lat & Lon coordinates within 10 feet anywhere on earth for an emergency pickup point.                                 

A/C & D/C Transformers to Charge 5V USB Devices: Essential Items to keep your equipment charged up as long as there is some Grid Power available somewhere or soe car that still has juice in the battery.

Audio Headse/Mict and Speaker.  Not essential in most circumstances, but for myself doing a lot of Audio interviews and the fact I like to listen to old favorite music, its and addition I like having in the kit.

Camera & Table Top Tripod for doing Video and Pics:  I can record with my Smart Phones, but even the El Cheapo Digicam does a better job for this than the Smart Phones.  As a modern era Reporter, I need means to get good pics and video up on the net, and a smart phone just is not good enough for this task in general.  OK in a pinch, but you really want a decent camera available if possible.  I have still better cameras then the El Cheapo, but I need a whole other bag for them.

Cables:  You need to be able to hook everything up of course, so you will need some USB cables.  USB comes in a few sizes, so adapters for these sizes are handy to have as well.

Now, all of this stuff is extremely light and portable and fits in a Shoulder Bag or Backpack and it is sufficient to fulfill my Diner Admin responsibilities if I need to make a Fast Bugout.  However, is this all I have for the bugout situation?  Of  course not. 🙂

If I at least still have my SUV to bugout in and to live in as a Homeless Person I can carry with me a whole lot more than this.

The next level up of Electric Preps is contained in a brief case. It consists of:

#1- 5W 12V Solar Panel

This panel is different than the folding one which outputs at 5V for charging the portable devices, instead it outputs at 12V good for charging typical automotive batteries.  However, because it is so small and only outputs 5W, to charge up a full size auto battery would take several sunny days without draining the battery for the purpose of charging other devices.  of course, if you have money to buy gas and do some driving each day, you probably generate enough electricity this way even without the solar panels.  In most cases though it will keep the battery nicely topped of with juice if you are judicious about how much you drain your other devices.

#2 10 AH 12V Deep Cycle SLA Battery

This is one of the spare batteries I bought for my Ewz Electric Scooter. It runs on 3 of these wired in series for 36V, but you can split them up and just carry one for the typical 12V use.  It is relatively small compared to an automotive battery and designed for deep discharge/recharge cycles.  Automotive batteries are designed to give a lot of cranking amps all at once to turn over an engine, not to deep discharge regularly.  SLA stands for Sealed Lead Acid, so despite being fairly small and compact, these batteries weigh a fair amount.  I would rather have a 12V Li-I battery which are lighter and generally do more recharge cycles, but they aren't available up here at Batteries & Bulbs, and getting them shipped here is bear also, since they are considered a Hazmat for air shipping.  However, since I am not carrying around this briefcase all the time, the extra weight doesn't matter very much.  They are also about 5X the price and that is hard to justify.

#3 200 W Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Your inverter converts the 12V DC to 120V AC which powers most household appliances.  The 200 W Inverter won't run stuff like a Microwave, but it will run low power draw items like a lamp, a slow cooker and most importantly, a REAL laptop instead of the Smart Phone/Folding Keyboard/Bluetooth Mouse combination.  While that combo works pretty good, it's still not as good as a real laptop for writing and doing Admin tasks on the net.

Other 12V aficionados often warn me about the dangers of using modified sine wave inverters and recommend I spend the extra money for a true sine wave inverter.  Reasoning being that modified sine wave can damage some complex electronics that run on AC.  Thing is, I don't use an inverter for running any such equipment.  Lightbulbs and the slow cooker don't care what the sine wave configuration is, and the Laptop actually runs on DC, you have a transformer between the inverter and the laptop which converts the electricity back to DC at whatever voltage your laptop runs on, which is usually somewhere between 15V DC and 22V DC.  These transformers don't care what the sine wave looks like either.

In addition to the 200W Inverter, I have a tiny 75W cigarette lighter size inverter, a larger 500W unit you clip to the battery itself and a behemoth 1000W inverter capable of running a Microwave Oven if you have enough juice and big enough battery to drive it.  You want to use the smallest inverter which will drive whatever device you are running, since there is more power wasted the larger the inverter.  The big ones require a fan to run to keep cool, which wastes still more power and is something else that can break down.  The 75W unit is JUST enough to run a typical laptop computer and keep its own battery charged up.

In order to reduce power wastage still more, I recently bought a DC-DC Transformer which takes 12V DC and directly changes it to anywhere from 5V to 24V to run just about any laptop computer on the market.  It also comes with 12 different Plug Tips that will fit any laptop you happen to have on hand for your Admin work.  I'm not sure precisely how much waste you are saving here, but I estimate about 25% which is significant if you have low storage capacity for your juice and limited generating power.

#4 AC-DC 6V-12V Battery Charger

This device plugs into the wall and will charge up any 6V or 12V battery you can scavenge up, so as long as power periodically shows up in your wall outlet, you can keep your batteries charged this way and then have power available for the times the juice is NOT flowing from the local electric plant into your outlets.  In normal daily use, I keep it hooked to a large 12V Deep Cycle Marine Battery about 2X the size of a typical car battery.  This battery when topped off (as it always is) will run all my portable electronics for at least 2 weeks, probably a month.  If I run my laptop off of it, probably still get a week without any generation from the Solar Panels.  This battery is of course way too big and heavy to carry around or drop in a brief case, but in a bugout situation with the SUV easily fits in the storage area of the vehicle.

Finally, in addition to the stuff that fits in the brief case, I have a larger 120W Solar PV Panel which can strap on to the roof rack of the SUV.  This provides plenty of juice to run all the equipment as much as I normally do without significantly draining the battery storage each night when I run a couple of diode lights and the laptop too.  The overall key here is to be aware of how much power your equipment is drawing, and choose low power consumptive devices as much as you can.

As long as you are just talking communications equipment and lighting, you really do not need a whole heck of a lot of juice available.  It's only once you start to add in stuff like Refrigeration to your bugout package that you need significantly more generating power.  As long as you can still get gas for the vehicle though and can afford it, your car alternator will provide plenty of juice to keep all your portable electronic devices charged up even without the addition of Solar PV panels.

Now, in most cases for the near future, I expect Grid Power to remain available somewhere, even if I am Homeless and can't afford to pay my electric bill.  For instance, if I go to the local Internet Coffee Shop where I did many of my early Collapse Cafes, at every table along the wall there is an electric outlet where I would plug in my laptop so as not to be discharging the battery unnecessarily.  This conserves the battery lifetime for your laptop battery.  Don't run it off the battery unless you absolutely have to.  In normal use they will last about 2 years of discharge cycles, mine is 4 years old and still going strong, because I simply do not run the laptop off of it's battery.  It's plugged in just about all the time.

In a real Homeless or Bugout situation, I could do more than just keep the laptop charged up though.  I could for instance walk into the local laundromat with a bag of clothes for washing and the big ass deep cycle marine battery below it with the 12V DC charger on my folding luggage carrier with wheels, disguised in a bag.  I plug this into the wall while my laundry is in the washing machine and drier.  In a couple of hours, I have scarfed up enough free electricity (for me anyhow) to not only power my communications equipment, but in fact enough to run a 12V Heated Sleeping pad as well so that I can sleep in toasty warm comfort in my SUV even if the outside temperatures drop to 20 Below.  You combine such a heating pad with a good sleeping bag and have enough juice to run it, you won't freeze to death no matter how cold it gets.  I can also cook my food in the slow cooker and not have to burn propane cannisters.  I can of course go into numerous Convenience Stores and use their Microwave and electric power to heat up more of my food.  Hot food, a toasty place to sleep, the only other thing you really need is water, which you can collect in a bottle each day at the convenience store in the bathroom sink as well.

Back to the main issue of communications and Internet Admin responsibilities though, once Homeless or in a Bugout situation, obviously you have lost your own high speed, high bandwidth connection to the net over cable or DSL, whatever you have at home.  You certainly want to keep your own 4G connection to the net on your cell phone, but this is an additional expense of around $50-100/month, which you may not be able to afford over time once becoming Homeless.

If that is the case, you're going to mostly need to use the Free Wi-Fi available at many internet cafes, libraries and even Mickey Ds.  You won't have a 24/7 connection to the net this way, but you can still do most of your writing while offline, and then simply upload your stuff when you do drop into a location with free wi-fi.  You're also going to want your own Skype Number for possible jobs to call you where they can leave a message and you can then call them back and seem like a "normal" person, not a Homeless one.  You can buy enough minutes for a Skype Number for this purpose for around $10, which probably lasts you a year given you probably will not actually use it for talking too much.  Most talking with friends goes across Skype itself for free skype to skype account.  In addition, you can use Google Hangouts for conversation with friends rather than the skype phone line.  The only purpose for this phone number is to have a number to hand out to possible jobs or perhaps the occasional person you don't want to give your Skype ID to.

Not being connected 24/7 to Global Communications is not something most of us net junkies are used to anymore, but of course this was the norm before the Cell Phones became ubiquitous.  In da olden days once I left the McHovel with its land line telephone, I was disconnected and nobody could get in touch with me until I got back home and checked the "answering machine", the predecessor to Voice Mail and itself an invention which only came around maybe in my early teens or so.  Prior to that, if you weren't home when a call came in, you simply missed the call and no message about it.  The person trying to reach you just had to do it again at another time.

The Homeless situation without your own (fairly costly) regular cell phone number puts you back in that situation more or less, and to maintain the illusion that you are still a "normal" person and not a Homeless one, you want to maintain a cell phone number and account as long as you can.  Once you drop below the poverty line, many of the cell phone providers offer a "basic" service for around $10/month which will at least allow you to get phone calls 24/7 and will take voicemail.  You won't have an internet connection with that service, bit it is cheap and keeps a line open for you even if you can't scarf up some free Wi-Fi somewhere.  Advisable to keep such a connection as long as you can afford it.

Now, this may seem trivial and inconsequential to you if you are more worried about FEEDING yourself with veggies grown in your raised beds or hydroponics tank, but it's not for me.  Internet Communication is Priority #1 for me!  The only reason I eat anything to begin with is to have enough energy to keyboard out some more Doom Newz!  LOL.

Seriously though, I think most people, even Doomers don't like it much when there is a Power Outage for one reason or another and their cell phone and laptop run out of juice after a day or two.  There are safety issues involved here as well, in terms of calling for help if you are sick or your house is floating downstream in a flood.  So you want to keep these things running as long as you can, and the above are my best strategies for doing that at a semi-reasonable price.  You DO NOT need a $20,000 Off the Grid Solar PV setup for your Doomstead to do it.  It can mostly be done in 1 or 2 bags with the right selection of preps.

Plugged Back In

ninja foxgc2Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

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Published on Epiphany Now on October 5, 2015

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After five years of resistance I'm back on Face Palm.  I blogged about the evils of Face Palm when I deleted my original account, you can read about that here.  I still agree with everything I wrote in that essay, but becoming a business owner has necessitated the removal of some idealism.  I got tired of losing business on Thumbtack because I couldn't respond quickly unless I was home with access to our laptop.  Often times people will select the first professional that contacts them (I know, I've been that professional several times).  We were also commonly receiving texts that said "no content," and I got tired of explaining to potential clients that I had an alleged dumb phone and all I got was "no content" rather than a text they had spent their time typing.  Several times they were long texts and I suspect that was the reason my alleged dumb phone couldn't handle it.  Still we fought on with our obsolete ways. 

Finally Wendy was off shooting a wedding and the phone went missing.  We decided we'd better just accept the fact that we needed smart phones, and so off to Sprint Wendy went to progress us into the 21st century.  I didn't go, but apparently the entire staff circled around my alleged dumb phone and made noises of amazement while they took turns passing around the alleged dumb phone marvel (it even had a touch screen, but we had fixed the phones so that they would not connect to the internet…it was a rumor touch from 2010).  They gave us two iphone 6's to replace our obsolescence.  The next day my laptop bit the bullet for the final time.  My laptop was a Toshiba Satellite that I bought in 2007.  I had the hard drive replaced and had to bring it in to the computer geek many times to have it fixed.  However, seeing as how an iphone is a computer, I found that by simply ordering a blue tooth keyboard for the iphone, along with an iphone stand, I could side step even needing a laptop.

Still, I resisted Face Palm.  I tried running my business Face Palm page, Ancient Earth Landscaping , using my wife's FB account on my phone, but that resulted in me posting to her page.  We couldn't figure out how I could run my page using her account on my phone, and it was just adding frustration to her life attempting to figure it out.  I thought about it and realized that I really had no leg to stand on where opposition to FB was concerned.  I had plugged back in, and that was necessitated by my need to run a business FB account.  You can't have just a business account.  All my opposition was doing was making my wife's life more complicated.  It was rapidly shaping up to my return to FB, and so here I am, completely plugged back in. 

I enjoy being able to listen to Spotify with blue tooth headphones anywhere I go.  The CD player in my truck stopped working years ago, so up till now I've been at the mercy of the radio.  I haven't listened to the radio in my truck since I got my iphone.  I have a camera, a video recorder, a calendar, a virtual jukebox, and the apps keep piling up (so far it's Thumbtack, Spotify, Weather, Blogger, Wikipedia, youtube, FB, and yes even Angry Birds).  It's great except for when I imagine myself holding that damn "phone" staring into the virtual world that I've detested for so long.  My world is the green world of plants and soil, not the virtual world of Face Palm and Instagram, except for the fact that these virtual places are part of my world now.  I'm embracing this inherent hypocrisy.  What am I to do other than accept it?

 


What is a reason to resist any longer?  The world went and got virtual, at least where people are concerned.  Now Wendy and I can lay in bed and be blissfully alone together in the evening (we have a healthy love life, but you know what I mean).  As far as privacy is concerned, what of it?  I'm amazed at how frazzled so many facepalmer's seem to be about the privacy issue with Face Palm.  What privacy?  Maybe some of my readers haven't heard about a federal agency called the "National Security Agency," or NSA, and the city they have in the desert that is five times the size of Washington DC dedicated to the surveillance of every communication of all stripes in the good ole Fascist States of America.  Every phone call, text, Face Palm message, email, and squeaky fart you let out is recorded and pigeon holed into your communication record at the NSA.  You can read about this fact here.  Here is a quick excerpt from the linked article:
 

 Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.


 So, if you are upset about privacy on Face Palm than you obviously have not been paying attention.  Of course there is the Patriot Act to consider.  If you don't know, that's the legislation that was enacted day's after 9/11 that makes it legal for our government to make you disappear and tell nobody about it.  You'll never be seen or heard from again and this is all legal.  They just have to suspect that you are a terrorist and away you disappear.  So if you don't want to have your privacy trampled on than you should no longer communicate with any kind of device.  Don't talk on a land line, don't use a cell phone, and don't use the internet under any capacity because even your google searches are being recorded by the NSA.  This brings me to the final issue I'll be tackling in this essay…that's right, gun control (and now for my promised trick where I make some Face Palm friends disappear).

In my opinion "gun control" is where you slow your breathing, keep both eyes open as you look through your iron sites (or scope), calm your nerves, and finally slowly exhale as you gently pull back on the trigger knowing that your aim is true.  I am not a violent person.  In fact, I don't believe in violence.  When I was training in Nihon Ghoshin Aikido my Sensei first taught me how to not fight.  He taught me how to use my words to diffuse any aggression and how to not get cornered and assure an escape route if at all possible.  Then he taught me how to use the energy of my attacker against him to cause controlled pain via joint locks and pressure points to further convince him that violence was not the answer.  Then he taught me how to kill with extreme prejudice and efficiency using my attackers weapon.  That's when I stopped training having achieved Ni Kyu or student instructor with all 50 techniques in the art and joined the Navy.

Firstly I'm not going to surrender my guns because I like them.  Occasionally I put venison on the table for my family to eat by hunting with my riffle.  This is 100% organic meat, and it's as organic as meat gets being that the animal has eaten from the wilderness it's entire life.  I could do this with a bow and arrow, but I don't have a bow and arrow right now.  I have guns.  Secondly all disarming the populace would do is to ensure that only our tyrannical government and criminals would have guns.  Law abiding citizens would be the only people without guns.  The hunting industry in the U.S. is a billion dollar industry and so removing guns would remove a lot of jobs from our atrophying economy.  If citizens don't need guns than why do police need guns?  Why does the military need guns?  Would the proponents of "gun control" agree that the military and police should surrender their guns?  I think not.  The fact of the matter is that guns exist, and so bad people have guns, and therefore I need guns.  If I could hockity pockety wokity whack every gun off of the planet I would do so, and I would happily hunt for my venison with bow and arrow, but I, nor anybody else on this side of mortal, have that ability.

Now for the school shootings, isn't this a bit like the terrorist bogey man?  You can't fight terrorism because terrorism resides in the black heart of the terrorist.  At any moment anybody can decide to be a terrorist, just as any kid can decide to go to school and start killing.  Let us imagine for a moment that all guns are completely eradicated from the Earth, even the world's military's don't have guns any longer.  Now some high schooler that's all bent out of shape because daddy left years ago and mommy has taken to prostitution to put food on the table and pay bills.  She's an alcoholic and on cussitol to cope leaving her virtually paralyzed to care for our bent high schooler.  On top of all of this he can't get a girlfriend to save his life, and nobody wants to be friends with him because he has bad hygiene and his breath constantly stinks.  He's also socially awkward.  Well he's had enough of this shit and decides he wants to die, but before he goes he wants to release his rage on the peers that have caused him so much pain.  He acquires a Samurai sword and spends weeks getting it as sharp as possible.  He goes to school one day and just as he enters the main hall minutes before the bell rings, he pulls out the sword and starts decapitating heads.  How many heads do you think he could decapitate before being stopped by the police?  Remember, there are no longer any guns, so I guess the local law enforcement would have to taser him?

Now, before you delete me from your Face Palm friend list, let me apologize for being so crass and brazen with making my point.  I am an Aspie after all, and I can relate to the feelings of the imagined high schooler I just created.  My father left when I was four and I have always been slightly awkward socially.  I was lucky enough to have the unconditional love of a beautiful mother (and I still do), and I was also able to find romantic love as a teenager, and I had a few friends to boot.  I'm not trying to make lite of the recent school shootings, or any school shooting for that matter.  I feel for all of the people caught up in these tragedies, but I also know that our government regularly kills innocent civilians with drones and that they drop bombs on hospitals, mosques, and red cross centers (I was on the USS Carl Vinson during Operation Enduring Freedom and I know this first hand).  There is no shortage of tragedies in our imperfect world.  Removing guns will accomplish nothing except making it easier for criminals to commit crime.  Guns or no, it's not guns that kill it's people.  Now go ahead and hit delete.  Your delusions will not stop me from telling the truth.

Gone, Gone, Baby it’s All Gone

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 21, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

Did you ever spend a few hours typing up an email reply or a message on the net, hit the SUBMIT button and have the post disappear into the ether, lost forever in the sea of digibits floating around the internet?  Or go to open up a file you were working on saved on your own computer, but when you try to open it up, you get a "FILE CORRUPT" error message?

Or, God Forbid, one day you try to turn on your laptop, only to get the Blue Screen of Death?

blue-screen

Just losing one email you spent a lot of time writing is pretty frustrating.  It's a lot worse when you lose your entire hard drive, but usually in that case you can bring it over to the local Computer Renaissance and the geeks can extract the data off of it.  It's usually still intact, just the drive motor gave out or the computer motherboard quit etc.

Still, it's a sinking feeling if you don't have that Magical Wand called BACKUP.

Now, take this feeling and imagine you run a website where you have spent 1000s of hours over 3 years writing, and not just you writing for it either.  Dozens of other people also writing and contributing to the data stored on your website.  Then one day you awaken, and you find your website is down, and you don't have a backup.

IT'S GONE, GONE, BABY IT'S ALL GONE.  IT'S OVER FOR ME AND IT'S OVER FOR YOU.

http://outlookexpresshelp.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/outlook-express-help8.jpg Now, similar to bringing your hard drive in for the Geek Squad to extract your data, Web Hosts have a thing called "Tech Support".  These Pros From Dover most of the time can fix up your site and recover your data.

Not always though, and sometimes the backup copies they have don't work either, or the backup copy is stored on the same server as your original live version and the whole server goes down, not just your website if you are on a shared server, which most Blogs except the very biggest like Zero Hedge are on.

Such was the case with the most recent crash of the Diner, besides internal problems we were having with the WordPress Blog, a couple of sticks of RAM went bad on the server, the MySQL which controls all the databases got screwed up, and the Diner and some other nonsense in French got jumbled together, all in all a major CLUSTERFUCK.

By day 3 of the CRASH I was giving up all Hopium that the Diner would ever be recovered.  3 years and thousands of hours of work, all GONE in the blink of an eye!

At the height of the crash, I wrote the following message on the Diner "Beta" Forum, a Forum on Create-a-Forum I created in a prior Diner Crash:

On Losing the Diner
« on: June 04, 2015, 05:46:24 am »

It is Thursday Morning June 4, 2015, 2AM AK Time.

As of right now, all the material on the Doomstead Diner, thousands of pages put up by myself and other Diners is currently lost and inaccessible on the web.

There is apparently now a problem with MySQL on our server host  the Code Jockeys are working to fix, and hopefully they will succeed.

Doomer Support took a backup copy of the Diner yesterday, so hopefully the material will all be retrieved at some future date on some server.

However, I have always known this is all time limited, and really about nobody goes back and looks at archives in a Blog anyhow.  What you write on a Blog only lasts a few days to a month before nobody ever reads it again.

So if it all is gone for good, so be it.  Some people read the stuff when it was fresh and first came off my keyboard.  That is good enough.

In terms of keeping the Doomstead Diner going, I will give it a week or so, and if the Code Jockeys at ASO and Doomer Support cannot resurect the Diner, then I will simply start over, first here and then with a Blogspot or free WP Blog, and point the DoomsteadDiner.net and DoomsteadDiner.com that way.

I'm not going to quit writing about collapse on the net until I croak.  I'm not going to quit ranting either, and at least last I checked Diner Soundcoud was still running.  If/When it collapses, I'll find other free cloud storage for mp3s and drop them on there.

Today's project will be setting up a new Doomstead Diner Beta Blog on Blogspot or WordPress.  I won't switch the URL pointer to that for at least a week or so.  I think Doomer Support and the Code Jockeys at ASO will get this fixed here, so I'm not going to prematurely jump the gun and flip the switch over on the URL yet.

No matter what occurs here, the Doomstead Diner has been a Great Adventure for me over these last few years, and I do know that what I wrote reached many people.  That is good enough.  The internet will not last forever, probably not more than another 20 years IMHO.  About Nobody goes back to read the old stuff anyhow.  What I wrote, what I thought does exist somewhere, and will for all eternity.  It cannot be destroyed, it cannot be hacked.

Tomorrow is another day I will carry on here, and spend my day chatting with support to fix the Diner.  I am not worried about this though one way or the other.  I will keep writing and ranting no matter what until I Buy My Ticket to the Great BeyondTM.

RE

As Philosophical and Stiff Upper Lip as I was trying to be with that post, I was really feeling quite devastated at the time.  The Diner was supposed to be my LEGACY.

legacy

noun leg·a·cy \ˈle-gə-sē\

: something  that is received from someone who has died

: something that happened in the past or that comes from someone in the past

Although I am quite aware of the truth that few people will go back and read my old articles after I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM, it's my hope that at least a few will, and also that the Diner Community and the SUN Project will continue onward as well for a while longer too.

I also know that what is up on the internet is not going to be up for reading forever also.  The Energy requirements to keep it running, the personal technology of laptops for everyone to be able to access it, and the poor economics of it eventually will take it offline.  I'd give it maybe 20 more years of general accessibility, although the main servers and cached information may remain on Google servers longer than that, accessible to a few Illuminati.  Even that though eventually will go down, maybe 50 years for that.

Not a real long time in the grand scheme of things, matched up against some text written on paper or papyrus, there's still some Legacy material floating around now that goes back around 4000 years for that stuff.  The oldest known writing comes on the Dispilio Stone Tablet and dates back around 7000 years.

http://www.ancient-origins.net/sites/default/files/field/image/distilio-tablet.jpg

If you go to the area of Cave Wall Paintings as conveyors of Legacy Information, the oldest ones of those go back around 40,000 years

Cave paintings are paintings found on cave walls and ceilings, and especially those of prehistoric origin, which date back to some 40,000 years ago in both Asia and Europe. The exact purpose of the Paleolithic cave paintings is not known. Evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation. They are also often located in areas of caves that are not easily accessible. Some theories hold that cave paintings may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe a religious or ceremonial purpose to them. The paintings are remarkably similar around the world, with animals being common subjects that give the most impressive images. Humans mainly appear as images of hands, mostly hand stencils made by blowing pigment on a hand held to the wall.

The earliest known cave paintings/drawings of animals are at least 35,000 years old, at Maros on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, according to datings announced in 2014. Previously it was believed that the earliest paintings were in Europe.[1] The earliest figurative paintings in Europe date back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 30,000 to 32,000 years ago, and are found in the Chauvet Cave in France, and in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania.[2] The earliest non-figurative rock art dates back to approximately 40,000 years ago, the date given both to a disk in the El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain and a hand stencil in Sulawesi. There are similar later paintings in Africa, Australia and South America, continuing until recent times in some places, though there is a worldwide tendency for open air rock art to succeed paintings deep in caves.

"AltamiraBison" by Rameessos

The oldest known Sculpture is around the same age as the Cave Wall art, at around 40,000 years also.

Venus of Hohle Fels

So in comparison to the artists who who did those Paintings and Sculpture, even a 50 year Legacy is pretty small potatoes, if you can even manage that.

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cavalry_charge_1905_4616.jpgSmall potatoes or not though, now that I got the Diner BACK, thanks to Tech Support at ASO and Doomer Support of the Database Cavalry From California TM, I'm on a Mission From God to make the Diner as resilient as I can, and try to make sure it stays up on the web until the Internet Goes Dark TM.

The first part of the plan I hatched with my good friend Doomer Support.  He has already done two major Stick Saves of the Diner, we had another problem back in 2013 on my old server which he was able to fix, and that's when I moved over to join him at ASO.

Both of us upgraded our separate hosting packages to Virtual Private Servers, or VPS.  We're both taking backups of the sites we host on each other's server, and creating an automated backup system between the two servers.  So if any website on the server crashes, or even if the whole fucking server crashes, we still have working copies of up to date material dropped on the databases.  This is pretty close to BULLETPROOF as far as backup is concerned.

However, in terms of making the material LAST for the full 50 years maybe possible here, this isn't the only problem you have.  The other problem is MONEY.

This server space isn't all that expensive in the grand scheme of things (I spend more money on Beer in a month than on my Hosting package), but obviously once I am DEAD I won't be paying the bills on the server.  So I did go ahead and pay up a full year in advance on the hosting Package, and 5 years in advance on the URL registration, but that still only gets 5 years if I cough up 4 more years advance payment, which now is getting into a significant sum of money.  Still just 5 years though, not 50.

Now, assuming the Diner Community hangs together here, maybe they will continue to pay Diner Bills in order to keep it running, that would be GREAT! Image result for sunny smiley

Still unlikely  they will keep paying the bills for the next 50 years though. 🙁

The only chance to keep all the material up until the Internet Goes Dark TM is to get the Diner up onto FREE Internet Blog space on the WordPress website, where nobody has bills to pay on it.

In order to do this, I created the new DoomsteadDinerBeta blog.  The actual address of Diner Beta is

https://doomsteaddinerbeta.wordpress.com/

also accessible until 2021 at doomsteaddiner.com. The actual current address of the LIVE Diner is doomsteaddiner.net.

To create this Beta version, I used a fresh version of WP without all the Plugins and Widgets myself and others have installed here on the main Diner.  Such plugins can cause havoc with your database if you don't keep them all updated, along with updates to WP itself, so Beta gets nothing but the bare bones of a WP site, with a stock theme as well.

To transfer the database, I'm not doing a wholesale copy and trying to import it over there (not even sure you can do that, I don't see a utility for it on WP and I don't have access to their cPanel either), I am going article by article and just pasting over the HTML.  I'm also not copying EVERY article on the Diner, just those written by Native Diners, not the Cross Posted articles from other Blogs.  If those folks want to try to create a Legacy Blog, they can do that themselves.  As it is, just copying Native Diner articles is a long and tedious process, I'm only about halfway through it now, up to July of 2013 or so after several days and numerous hours at this task, which is cutting into my writing and ranting time. 🙁  However, it's important to me to have this backup copy up on the web, so I am slogging my way through it.

As far as the Diner Forum  here is concerned, there is a whole lot more material in the SMF database than on the WP Blog database for the Blog, and the Diner Beta Forum works the same, but it doesn't have any of the data from this one in it, and I doubt it ever will.  I also don't see any means of importing databases to Create-a-Forum, and copy/pasting all the posts here over there is out of the question.  So the current Forum is likely to be lost when the main Diner goes down for good. The material MAY be cached on Google servers though, they have spiders crawling through the database all the time.

I have tons of other material up on the web I am going to try and move to free space over time, like all the Rants and Interviews currently up on Diner Soundcloud, which also has a yearly fee for the Pro Package.  I will update on that when I get to it, but the priority right now is the main Diner Blog, which will probably take another week or two to get finished in transfer.

Diner TV is already up on Free You Tube space, so that needs no changes to stay up as long as Google does, which is until the Internet Goes Dark TM.

Beyond all that are the Yahoo Groups like Reverse Engineering I ran over the years.  This material is on free space, the problem is these were all Restricted Groups for Members Only.  So if you don't have a User ID & Password, you can't read the material in the database.  You can't change the group setting to Public anymore either.  I'm still trying to work out a reasonable automated means of capturing that material to make it public in Blog form.  If I can't do that, I will make a User Name and Password anyone can use to go read there.

So, all in all, if I can finish the Diner Archiving Project TM before I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM, I should be about the most resilient Doomer on the net, with multiple backups and cyber-redundancy.

I WILL NOT LOSE THE DINER!  Image result for sunny smiley

I will not live forever, but the Diner will LIVE until the INTERNET GOES DARK TM.

My LEGACY as an internet writer and forum moderator for a Quarter Century will not disappear the day I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.

LONG LIVE THE DOOMSTEAD DINER

DINER HELL WEEK: THE CRASH STORY

Off the keyboard of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 7, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

Churchill-Hell

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

It was HELL WEEK here on the Diner.

As regular Diners know, we were down for most of this week, and have been experiencing intermittent problems since the week before that.

The problems began with malware that insinuated itself into WordPress, we're still not sure how or when it got there, whether through a plugin or a hack of some type.

This took down the Diner a few times in the prior week, but got patched a couple of times by support on the server host.

Then the real fun begins.

A new problem cropped up with MySQL on the server itself, which controls access to all the databases on the server, not just the Diner.  This took down everything and everybody, including Nature Bats Last, Guy McPherson's blog. At this point the real marathon of being online nearly 24/7 exchanging support emails and chats begins.

Finally I am told that the problem is identified, it is being fixed and all will be restored "soon".  So I finally go to get some sleep.

When I awaken I go back to check and I find that not only has the problem not been fixed, the Diner account on the server has been SUSPENDED!  So now I get on the phone with an Account Rep to find out why and resolve that problem.  Apparently the Diner was using too many resources on the server and policy is in such cases to suspend the account entirely.

This of course is absurd, especially if the customer first off is paid up well in advance, and second has been online working in good faith with the support team to resolve the problems.  There are many possible alternatives to suspending the account itself, and dropping such a message everyone can read on the web.

First and easiest is to just repoint the URL to a page which says, "Website is down for Maintenance" while you go on a Search & Destroy mission to find the problem and fix it.  Second, if the site is using up too much of shared server resources, you could move it temporarily to a separate server and Quarantine it while you figure out why these problems are occuring.  This has the added advantage that the techies can observe the problems as they are occuring.

This came at a particularly critical moment for the Diner SUN project, which is currently hooking up with Professional Fundraisers to get funding and begin the process of translating the ideas we have discussed into real life action.  How does it look to see a "Account Suspended" message to these folks?

The Diner and the SUN website represent 3 years of work and 1000s of hours & pages just by myself, not to mention the MANY people who have contributed to the Diner and SUN project over that time period.  This disaster put at risk ALL of that work.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4R_H84Qn_H0/VWdlXVSngpI/AAAAAAAAbl4/1NbpMW2_UE8/s400/SCHREYVOGEL_Charles_Cavalry_Charge_1905_Wadsworth_Athenaeum_source_Sandstead_d2h_.jpgAnyhow, at this point The Database Cavalry From CaliforniaTM rides in over the hill to the rescue.  It's not the first time either. In fact Doomer Support is responsible for the fact the Diner got saved in it's first major crisis, and moved the Diner from the old server we were hosted on to the one where it is now.  He also has helped out in a couple of other more minor crashes we experienced in the interim.  Doomer support also captured and transferred Nature Bats Last to our space when that site was under massive SPAM attack and resucitated it. The Database Cavalry From CaliforniaTM is the Crash Cart for Doomer Blogs on the ropes.  LOL.

So now the account is finally unsuspended, and the website goes back up, but now the Database is missing at least half of the material that was dropped on there, and not only that but it is also corrupted by material in French from some other website probably also hosted on the same server.

So now another Site Restore with a Backup Copy has to be done, and fortunately somebody captured a good copy on June 3rd, either Doomer Support or the Host Support people, because none of the backups I tried to capture worked properly.

In the end, we got just about all of it back, except it is currently missing the Slider that Featured recent articles, and one Draft I had going was not captured.  Hopefully we will get the Slider reloaded at some point in the future, because I really liked that widget.

What this whole experience reinforced with me is something I have always known, which is that all the stuff you drop on the net is time limited, ephemeral and can disappear in an INSTANT.  While deep in the midst of the crisis, I wrote the following on the Diner Beta Forum I set up during an earlier crash on the Free Space of Create-a-Forum

On Losing the Diner
« on: Today at 05:46:24 am »

It is Thursday Morning June 4, 2015, 2AM AK Time.

As of right now, all the material on the Doomstead Diner, thousands of pages put up by myself and other Diners is currently lost and inaccessible on the web.

There is apparently now a problem with MySQL on our server host  the Code Jockeys are working to fix, and hopefully they will succeed.

Doomer Support took a backup copy of the Diner yesterday, so hopefully the material will all be retrieved at some future date on some server.

However, I have have always known this is all time limited, and really about nobody goes back and looks at archives in a Blog anyhow.  What you write on a Blog only lasts a few days to a month before nobody ever reads it again.

So if it all is gone for good, so be it.  Some people read the stuff when it was fresh and first came off my keyboard.  That is good enough.

In terms of keeping the Doomstead Diner going, I will give it a week or so, and if the Code Jockeys at ASO and Doomer Support cannot resurect the Diner, then I will simply start over, first here and then with a Blogspot or free WP Blog, and point the DoomsteadDiner.net and DoomsteadDiner.com that way.

I'm not going to quit writing about collapse on the net until I croak.  I'm not going to quit ranting either, and at least last I checked Diner Soundcoud was still running.  If/When it collapses, I'll find other free cloud storage for mp3s and drop them on there.

Today's project will be setting up a new Doomstead Diner Beta Blog on Blogspot or WordPress.  I won't switch the URL pointer to that for at least a week or so.  I think Doomer Support and the Code Jockeys at ASO will get this fixed here, so I'm not going to prematurely jump the gun and flip the switch over on the URL yet.

No matter what occurs here, the Doomstead Diner has been a Great Adventure for me over these last few years, and I do know that what I wrote reached many people.  That is good enough.  The internet will not last forever, probably not more than another 20 years IMHO.  About Nobody goes back to read the old stuff anyhow.  What I wrote, what I thought does exist somewhere, and will for all eternity.  It cannot be destroyed, it cannot be hacked.

Tomorrow is another day I will carry on here, and spend my day chatting with support to fix the Diner.  I am not worried about this though one way or the other.  I will keep writing and ranting no matter what until I Buy My Ticket to the Great BeyondTM.

RE

Anyhow, ephemeral or not, time limited or not, I never QUIT.   I am working on creating other forms of Backup so that on occasions this sort of shit goes down, there will be places for Diners to go to get information on the latest in Doom, even if all the old information disappears.  I wrote this one on the Diner Forum once we got that back up:

I have created the new Diner Beta Blog to go with the Diner Beta Forum

As of yet, not a whole lot of Content in either location.

The Beta Forum mostly contains messages about our various crashes over time, and likely will not have a whole lot more than that ever.  I'm not gonna try and copy over posts from this Forum to that one, not enough hours in the day for that one.  LOL.

On the Beta Blog, I will paste over just Text from Blogs on the Diner from the Native Diners.  No Cross Posting Bloggers.  No multimedia, maybe some pics if they paste easy, haven't tried it yet.  At 5/day, I should get them all pasted over in 6 months or so, maybe less.

Because it is FREE on Google, this Blog will stay up just about as long as the net does.  :icon_sunny:

Since several Diners suffered Withdrawal Symptoms when the Diner crashed today (including me!), this is INSURANCE you can get your Diner Fix even on Crash Days by hitting either of the above links, I am sure to be posting on the latest Collapse issue for the Diner there if I am still above ground.  I suggest BOOKMARKING them for real Diner Addicts.

The first Article is UP on the New Diner Blog, which you can read by clicking on the Link above.

As far as all the Audio goes, with each account you make on Spreaker you get 10 hours of FREE Audio Storage space! You can make such an account with any legit email account you have to validate it.  Just on FREE accounts on Google and Yahoo you guys would not believe how many I have.  LOL.  I can also make UNLIMITED new email accounts on the Diner as long as I have it running, and once validated you don't really need it anymore.  So I can essentially get unlimited FREE Audio storage this way.

Far as the Rants go, they average around 9min and I have around 140 of them for 1260 total minutes, or a little over 20 hours.  I can fit them all on 3 Google or Yahoo email IDs I have EZ, without even making more email addys on the Diner!  To get all the Interviews up on FREE space, I would need to use more email addys.

For the Vids, they are ALREADY on FREE YouTube space!  :icon_sunny:

So once I get the material moved to all these FREE spaces, it stays up until either these websites/companies collapse, or the Internet Goes DarkTM

If/When the Diner goes down AGAIN, we jump to the FREE space!  No down time for Diner Addicts this way!  :icon_sunny:

I am going to be the most Resilient Web Junkie on the Net!  They will not shut me up until they pry my cold dead fingers off the fucking keyboard!  :icon_mrgreen:

RE

P.S.-I am reposting this to the Beta Forum!  :icon_sunny:

http://weaponsman.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/fat_lady_sings.jpgIt ain't OVAH until the Fat Lady Sings.  Not until the Internet Goes DarkTM or I Buy My Ticket to the Great BeyondTM or they pack me off to GITMO will the Doomstead Diner disappear from the net, in some form, somewhere.

LONG LIVE

THE DOOMSTEAD DINER!

A Digital Whimper

Off the keyboard of td0s

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Published on Pray for Calamity on February 25, 2014

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

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Discuss this article at the Science & Technology Table inside the Diner

There is so much noise that it becomes difficult to stay focused. The constancy of information, of news, of propaganda, of gossip. Our minds are drowning in a sea of chatter. We choke on it as it updates every second on a TV screen or an RSS feed. Everywhere you go, people staring at their smart phone, scrolling, scrolling. Next. Next. Next. Ironically, no one doing, no one reacting. No one digesting the information and then using it as a starting point for action. Information reduced to just another product for consumption, it is dumbed down, simplified, stripped of meaning and value and made into to the mental equivalent of a cheese poof. Every human tragedy reduced to a status update. Every reported environmental catastrophe reduced to a one hundred character tweet. Follow the end of the world at hash-tag “digitalwhimper.” Like it. Reblog it. Scroll down.

Afloat in an ocean of noise, we filter, and our filters are born of our biases and our priorities. Terrence McKenna said that culture is our operating system. The dominant culture is a lot of things in its complexity, but I think it is fair to say that one of it’s primary components is that it is anthropocentric. The dominant culture puts humans at the center of existence. Of course, there are layers of nuance involved in which the lifestyles and comforts of some humans are prioritized over the well being of others. To be sure, the dominant culture has a tiered hierarchy of valuation of flesh, with white flesh prioritized over nonwhite. Human flesh, however, always trumps nonhuman, with the anthropocentrism of the dominant culture casting non-human life as non-sentient, non-feeling, non-autonomous. To the dominant culture, there is no web of life, no complex interplay between co-dependent species all with value unto themselves, all existing within their own right to be respected and treated as one living family. As far as the dominant culture is concerned, there is humanity and everything else is either the feedstock of industry, or it is in the way.

We’re trained to filter anything that suggest otherwise.

There is this conception in the US, and likely in other western nations, that commerce, civic life, and “business as usual” have a right to exist unimpeded. Protests and strikes that flare up, no matter how minor, that slow traffic, block public transit, or – gasp! – prevent people from going to work or shopping are lambasted by the worker bee populace. How dare some protester block a bus full of Google or Amazon employees! An orchestra of miniature violins wail like mothers clutching dead babies for the innocent victims of such tepid social disruption. I find myself repulsed at first by the complete and utter lack of anti-authoritarian fervor found in the average worker who is just so eager to be on time to grind away making some other person rich, and second I am reviled by the entitlement of these self proclaimed “productive members of society” who seem to believe with religious intensity that by clocking their eight hours, that they are doing God’s work.

These potentates of the church of capital trot out the same old tired harassments calling on protesters and activists to “get a job,” which is of course, demanding that they stop impeding the big game of capitalist society and instead play along and lend a hand generating higher quarterly returns for some shareholder somewhere. Almost always this “get a job” mantra is absolutely non-sequitir to the demands of activists, but of course, a valid rebuttal would require an examination of the issues at hand, and that would require a moderate amount of effort. Shouting a meaningless slogan feels like arguing, but is much easier and leaves all of ones biases in tact, so it is the tactic of choice for those who want to defend the status quo while leveling an attack on people who ironically will usually have the general public’s best interests at heart.

To be sure, it’s easy to get bogged down in the sludge of insults, ignorance, and outright obfuscation that passes for discourse in this society. Sometimes I catch myself engaged in a pointless conversation over some political viewpoint, and I have to return myself to my primary premises. Years ago I came to accept that without a healthy living ecosystem, nothing else matters. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was in my late twenties when I had finally come to such an obvious conclusion. It should have been self evident, and likely was, until years of noise and propaganda promoting the dominant culture and it’s primary objective of production and growth with humans at the center of existence clouded my thinking. It took many elders wiser than I as well as many writers more clear thinking to assist me in regaining my sanity. A sentence helped it all fall into place:

The needs of the natural world outweigh the needs of the economic system.

This premise from Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” should have been a no-brainer. Without a foundation on which to survive, why hash out the intricacies of social interaction?

The overwhelming majority of political discourse completely disregards this fundamental truth. In fact, this fundamental truth is treated with outright scorn, and according to the dominant culture, the natural world exists solely for the exploitation of humans. Anyone who gets in the way of this exploitation is impeding the primary directive of the dominant culture to engage in production and growth, and must be removed by any means necessary. For indigenous cultures, this has generally meant genocide. For a white activist blocking a city bus or a bulldozer, it generally means a cascade of effects starting with public ridicule and leading to and through violent arrest and imprisonment while gleeful wage slaves look on. Containment of anti-capitalist energy is completed by the media which reinforces the mindless “critique” of the “get-a-job” crowd by proclaiming from their position of power and privilege the valid method of demanding redress of grievances: Petition leaders and vote. While waving the banner of democracy, the public is consistently corralled into ineffectual and morale sapping activity by the media who are but highly paid P.R. staff of the powerful. As this cycle repeats and the livestock populace becomes more and more complacent in their powerlessness, the object of protest and picket and strike becomes more diluted.

Protest is not about awareness. Protest is not a commercial in flash-mob format. The goal isn’t to advertise to the consumer culture and hope that they are convinced to buy a particular point of view. Protest is about disruption. Protests and pickets and strikes and riots are weapons of the masses. We may not have any sway in boardrooms and government halls, but we can shut down ports and plants and if it comes down to it, we sure as shit can burn their precious banks and factories to the ground. We can pretend it matters to lock ourselves to the White House gate, or we can shred pipelines with angle grinders and blow torches before they are ever in the dirt. Refusing participation in the mechanisms of commerce, and further, preventing others from participating is the only real leverage that any of us have against the weight of the machine of industrial civilization. Make no mistake, productive members of society are the problem. The only reason this thought is remotely uncomfortable is because we know that we are all trapped in the belly of the beast we are trying to slay. We understand that everyone is trapped in a deadly paradigm, and that we must reconcile deconstruction of that which destroys us with survival in the present. But there is no alternative. Inaction is acquiescence to the horrors which totalitarian capitalists will inflict upon us. Business as usual must grind to a halt. So long as the sum total of the machinations of capital and state are violence and repression, we must bind and hinder as many working arms and legs of this machine as we can.

In the deluge of static the meme of human supremacy is constant. The premise that humans are at the center of existence, while not always articulated so plainly, underlies almost all current politics and philosophy. In discussions that range in focus from ecology to economics to technology, the foundational premise is essentially that human beings are masters of their destiny and that what we ultimately choose to create as our collective destiny will necessarily manifest as so. The logic to such thinking is that humans possess the only consciousness and will in our sphere of existence, so any course of action deriving from human will is necessarily just, because the consent of any other consciousness is impossible. This logic also presumes that the planet is a non-sentient mechanism of complex yet conquerable systems. According to the dominant culture, anyone who considers the planet alive is crazy, and to be dismissed. Further, anyone who considers the sentience and inherent value of non-human beings is crazy, and to be dismissed. Further still, anyone who doubts the intellect and ingenuity of technological humans is crazy and to be dismissed.

Even many radicals and activists fall for these premises. Examining the taxonomy of even many anarchist labels, the presumption inherent in their descriptors is that our primary grounding will be in how we interact with each other. Anarcho-syndaclism and anarcho-communism, for example, have within their monikers a genus and a species that proclaim a philosophy of egalitarian human organizing and some form of cooperative work and exchange. Anarcho-transhumanism implies a human centric philosophy focused on the necessity of transcending our biological status. This is the essence of the dominant culture’s drive merely stripped of the baggage of hierarchy. Of course there is reason to contemplate how exactly we should best organize with one and other, and I think anarchism contains within it the most value and potential, but devoid of an analysis of where and upon what foundations we will be doing this organizing, the philosophy becomes moot. Any political philosophy that forgets or intentionally avoids the naked reality that without a healthy ecosystem we die, is useless. Any political philosophy that cannot face the reality that humans need habitat and that humans are increasingly destroying habitat, is just more useless chatter.

Anthropocentrism is a sickness of ego that holds the uninfected hostage to watch while the living world is plundered and killed. Those infected with this malady of ego are held fast and tight within a narrative about who we are and what our collective destiny holds. Daily this narrative is fleshed out by Hollywood as images of constant technological progress are manifested by graphical wizardry, while simultaneously, the rot of civilization grows. The media plays its part, singing the songs of where we are going with new hits about mining asteroids and golden oldies about free energy just around the corner. It matters not that green revolution technologies are rapidly destroying topsoil while every year relying more heavily on stronger poisons. It matters not that billions of humans are sustained by trading dwindling hydrocarbons for food calories. It matters not that overuse of antibiotics has spawned new treatment resistant bacteria at such a rate as to prompt an Assistant Director at the CDC to declare that, “We are at the end of anti-biotics, period.” None of this matters to the devotees of civilization and human greatness because, because, well, look at our slick new smart phones! The ability to download an app which will alert you to how many people in the room are interested in screwing a stranger is supposed to be proof that we can invent our way out of the toxicity that hundreds of years of industry and thousands of years of agriculture have meted upon the planet.

Without a a cataclysmic shift in the industrial-civilization paradigm, we’re going to kill ourselves and a lot of other living beings all because so many people are in love with the story they are being told about themselves. For the few who attempt to bring about such a shift, there is the condemnation of the worker bees whose willful participation in the system is indicted by those who dare give a damn. Even if sent to prison for their actions, radicals have it better than the indigenous and the non-human who are extinguished with varying degrees of complexity. For everyone else, there are the texts, the selfies, the pop-culture news feeds, the addiction to regularly proclaiming your mediocre self to the world via social networking. While the oceans die and the atmosphere gasps, we ride the wave of noise lost in our greatest technological accomplishment; a database of the mundane, a digital mirror into which we can continually stare at ourselves.

I lost my Wallet (and my Marbles)

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on May 12, 2015

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marbles

Discuss this artilcle at the Medicine & Health Table inside the Diner

Amongst the many problems you face when you have a Spinal Injury is that it starts to affect your Brain Functions in many ways. The higher up the spine the injury is, the more things get affected.  My problem is in the C4-C5 area of the cervical vertebrae in my neck.  Complete severing of the spinal chord in this area results in Quadraplegia.  I don't have that problem…YET!

http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/wp-content/media/spinal_map.jpgIt's just compromised and being SQUEEZED, and this results in many physically debilitating problems.  You can lose muscle control in any area of your body, for me currently the biggest loss is in my right arm, but I have muscle weakness everywhere now as well.  Difficult to walk, difficult to get out of bed and so forth.

It also affects your appetite, and sense of Hunger.  I just about never feel Hungry and actually WANT to eat, I have to remember to feed myself every day.  I mainly keep eating because I still like (and can experience still) the taste of my favorite foods.  I love to cook, as readers of my SNAP Card Gourmet series know.  Also, I know I HAVE to eat if I want to stay alive, and I do for a while longer anyhow.  More on the reasons for that later here.

Your Bowel and Urinary functions are affected as well.  You can become completely incontinent.  Again, so far I am fortunate this has not occurred yet, but I do have what you call an "immediacy" issue, which is that as soon as I do feel the need to piss or shit, I have to get to the bathroom inside a minute or two or I will have an "accident", as my mom called it while I was being Toilet Trained.  I try not to venture too far from a bathroom because of this.

It affects your Hearing as well, you can get a symptom known as Tinnitis, which I have.  Described sometimes as "ringing in the ears", for me it is a constant High Pitched SQUEAL, that if I keep myself bizzy I can ignore, but it is always there.

Tinnitus (/tɪˈntəs/ or /ˈtɪnɪtəs/; from the Latin tinnītus "ringing") is the perception of sound within the human ear ("ringing of the ears") when no external sound is present. Despite the origin of the name, "ringing" is only one of many sounds the person may perceive.

Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. Other causes include neurological damage (multiple sclerosis), ear infections, oxidative stress,[1] emotional stress,[2] foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain, earwax build-up, and exposure to loud sounds. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may cause tinnitus as well. Tinnitus may be an accompaniment of sensorineural hearing loss or congenital hearing loss, or it may be observed as a side effect of certain medications (ototoxic tinnitus).

There are two main types of tinnitus, subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Tinnitus is usually a subjective phenomenon, such that it cannot be objectively measured. The condition is often rated clinically on a simple scale from "slight" to "catastrophic" according to the difficulties it imposes, such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.[3] Subjective tinnitus has been also called "tinnitus aurium" "nonauditory" and "nonvibratory" tinnitus, objective tinnitus "pseudo-tinnitus" or "vibratory" tinnitus.

All of this I became aware of as I researched my injury, so I expected and understood it, and why it was occurring.  What I did not expect was how it would affect my higher cognitive functions, aka THINKING & MEMORY.

All those higher functions are ABOVE the injury to my spinal column, so in theory should not be affected.  But they are affected because of feedbacks through your nervous system, or lack of feedback.  I have become "forgetful", misplace things all the time now and cannot find them. I briefly lost my keys to my digs a couple of weeks ago, had to go out and make a replacement set (I had some copies fortunately), although I did turn up the original set a few days later.  I haven't lost my Wallet once in the last 30 years, but last week I did.  After fruitless searching for it, I bit the bullet and headed over to the DMV AGAIN to replace my Driver's License, and over to the Credit Union to cancel my Debit Cards and order new ones.  I'm still without the Debit Cards, that will take a couple of weeks probably before I have working ones again.  I got a Temporary License (good for 2 months), and now I wait for the permanent replacement to come in the mail as well.  The DMV here in Alaska doesn't issue Driver's License/ID out on the spot anymore, it has to go through Facial Recognition and Background Checks before you get your Full License, good for 6 years if you don't lose it, but anytime you do need to replace it you have to go through the same rigamarole.

Once you are without ID and a Bank Card in this society, you are totally screwed if you don't have Backup.  I'm fortunate I am a Doomer, so I have multiple backups on most things, in the case of the Driver's License I was able to use the last Temp License they issued me which had not yet expired.  Same with getting my new bank debit cards.  I also had my Passport and my Birth Certificate as well.  So I could more or less PROVE that I am ME to the Goobermint and the Banking system and get the process going of replacing the lost ID items.  Still haven't received them though, and I won't be resting EZ until they are once again in a NEW Wallet that certifies me as part of this society.

Meanwhile as I wait to get issued my New Cards, how am I surviving?  Again, fortunate I am a Doomer, so I have a Stash of Cash to use for purchases until I have some working Plastic again.  I have a PayPal account with digibit money in it also.  This is mainly just a temporary inconvenience for me, but it really does show how connected to and how dependent you are on the whole system all the time.

Now, to address a topic I brought up at the beginning of this article, is WTF am I trying to STAY ALIVE at all here now?  The world is a MESS, I am a MESS, just fucking end it all here and do a Bullet-Brain Meeting!

The main reason I don't do that is because I remain curious about how this bizness of Collapse will play itself out, and I continue to want to write on the topic until I absolutely cannot do that anymore.  We often run into the question of "What is the Purpose of Living?" on the Diner.  MY purpose for living these days is to be a Chronicler of Collapse.  In a sense I am fortunate in this regard, since now besides charting the Global Collapse, I also have opportunity to chart my own Personal Collapse as well.  I shall chronicle this in all its glory & gory detail as long as my keyboard fingers still work.  I won't QUIT, no matter what, no matter how awful my life gets.  I will go out fighting to the end. It's the Terminator in me.

What all of these experiences have driven home to me is the importance of having FRIENDS, which is where all your REAL WEALTH is truly stored.

In the case of my Spinal Injury, my FRIEND Agelbert on the Diner researched my problem and dug up a Study being done in Atlanta that I may qualify for, and so get the repair job done on the tab of the Pharma Companies that are sponsoring this study.  Without The Diner, this never would have occured.

In the case of my potential Homelessness prior to my trip to the Great Beyond, this also is unlikely to occur now.  I have offers from 2 more FRIENDS from the Diner who have offered me Shelter if things continue on their Southward Trend Line for me.

Anyone who says Blogging and the Internet are a waste of time and you can't really CONNECT with people this way are ABSOLUTELY, INCONTRAVERTABLY WRONG!  I probably won't last a whole lot longer (although I am pretty tough to kick off, so who knows there?), but today I am confident I won't die alone in some snowdrift in Alaska, I DO have FRIENDS who care about me.  They are my friends from the DINER!

MapI have met more truly compassionate and caring people on the Diner than I have ever encountered IRL.

LONG LIVE THE DOOMSTEAD DINER!

RE

 

Too Much Internet Crack

Off the keyboad of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Flmers to Farmers on May 1, 2015

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filmers_2_farmers_2

Discuss this article at the Science & Technology Table inside the Diner

I hate to say it, but it looks like I've been degraded to having to write what might be called a filler/fluff piece.

If you haven't already read my first post to this blog, Distraction, Surveillance, Peak Oil and the End of the Internet, then let me quickly point out that I spent five and a half years mostly not using the Internet (you can read about that in the post if you'd like). But since I've gotten back online (about a year and a half ago), my ability to concentrate and work on my manuscript – be it sitting down for several hours to read a book or work with pen and paper – has been decimated and has been getting progressively worse.

It's all pretty much come to a head these past couple of weeks, particularly as I've become rather active in trying to get this blog out there to up its numbers. In the process, the spare iPhone 4 which I was recently given (of which I don't have a SIM card inside) has been getting souped up with an ever-growing trove of APPs to accommodate all this. On top of my email APP (which, admittedly, doesn't make my "phone" vibrate too often), I've got an APP to connect to cPanel (to access my website's control panel), an APP to code from my "phone" just in case my site needs quick fixing (I do not own or want a computer to do that from), an APP to check out my website's analytics, an APP for my recently made discovery of Reddit, and I just signed up to Skype a month ago to do my first podcast interview and so now have an APP for that as well.

On top of that all I've also got an Amazon APP, an eBay APP, banking APPs, Trade Me and Gumtree APPs, library APPs, a Twitter APP, a Soundcloud APP (to listen to Doomstead Diner podcasts) and more. Seeing how I don't have a phone number and can only be reached by email, I was kind of required recently to get APPs for WeChat and LINE (the Asian equivalents of WhatsApp, if you even know what that is – and if you don't, I'd suggest not bothering to find out). But let me tell you, this is not APPtastic.

What I was supposed to be doing the past while, on top of working on my manuscript, was writing a post on democracy and fossil fuels, and another about my new little pet theory on collapse. But it just wouldn't happen. As both of them got put off for another day, and another day, and another day, I ended up, well, here. Deadline time with neither of the posts having gotten anywhere beyond their titles being written on the top of a page.

I've read Nicolas Carr's book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, so I'm quite aware of what's going on here. Simply put, my brain's gone into hyperactive mode and I'm in constant need of stimulation. What doesn't help is that I'm prone to devouring information, and so quite capable of being an info-junkie. I've been reading up and up and up on the latest goings on with Greece and the Eurozone, the proxy war which it seems the US started with Russia, the oh-so-ever imminent collapse of the petrodollar (okay, I usually skip those articles now), a multitude of various other shenanigans, and how they're all tied in to the fracking bubble, peak oil, and, simply put, energy. And just as the drama never stops, nor do the stories and facts and figures and data and so forth. Sometimes I get the sinking feeling that I've replaced film and television for the soap opera of geopolitics.

Anyway, upon reading the comment section of John Michael Greer's blog just a couple of days ago, I came across a link to an article called Why Can't We Read Anymore? by Hugh McGuire. It was a good read, pretty much along the lines of those already mentioned by Carr in The Shallows. As was reiterated for me, what's going on is that each new hit of information sets off a rush in my brain which makes me "feel good." And wanting to continually "feel good," I incessantly end up clicking that next link, re-checking my analytics, scouring for updates of whatever kind, etc. In other words, this trove of information via the Internet is my crack, and with my newfound iPhone, a very accessible source of crack at that. However, even though I'm completely aware of what's going on, there seems to be little I can do to refrain from taking that next hit.

Anecdotes aside, neuroscience studies have shown that new information incites a surge of dopamine to the brain. Seeing how the brain is very "plastic" and can be readily "reprogrammed" (even in old age), give it enough of those dopamine hits and you change it at a biological level. That is, it gets used to the "feel good" sensation of all those dopamine hits and so increasingly craves them and compels you to seek them out.

In other words, for the past year and a half (and especially the past four months since I've gotten that SIM card-bereft iPhone) I've been remapping the neural pathways in my brain to seek out dopamine hits. A vibrating "phone" notifying me of a new email? Bring on the dopamine! A check on my website analytics? Can you say dopamine!? A tweet of mine mentioning my lastest blog post has been re-tweeted? Hey look, more dopamine! Refresh those website's analytics again? Dopamine?

That all being said, I should point out that I can be a rather disciplined person and don't like pawning off my responsibilities and shortcomings on invisible goblins. Nonetheless, and as Carr put it in his article that preceded The Shallows, Is Google Making us Stupid?,

the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s [that] media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

Click, tap, click, tap, clickety-tap. While we're grippingly relayed prophecies by the techno-evangelists that all this hyperactivity and multi-tasking increases our productivity, the fact of the matter is that in various ways the opposite is the truth – such things as multi-tasking results in less and less getting done, and at lower levels of quality.

Granted, different people respond to different stimulants in different ways, so I don't state this as a general prognosis of everybody's situation. Nonetheless, I know I'm not the only one. As Carr also points out,

I'm not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I'm reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I'd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I'm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

So seeing how I need to get on with my "deep reading" so I can complete my manuscript (and get those blog posts done on time!), something needs to be done here. Although I've got a feeling that I will one day be quitting the Internet again, that's at least a few years away, and I certainly can't be doing that now.

Fortunately, mentioning my deteriorating abilities in passing to John Michael Greer on his blog's comment section the other day, I unexpectedly got some excellent advice: go on a media fast. So, upon tying up a few loose ends over the next week or so, that's exactly the middle path I'll soon be taking. On top of saying bye-bye to my analytics monitoring and vibrating notices during the day, and since I gave up film and television about a decade ago, this largely means abstaining from reading articles on the Internet. (I have however been giving a few mp3 listens to a song on my iPhone by my mate here in New Zealand, and since I haven't actually played a piece of music in about a decade either, I'll be scrapping that as well.)

I don't, however, know how long this is going to last for. Yes, I'll be missing out on all the petrodollar-boy's cries of wolf (the wolf does of course arrive, although I don't think that day is in the immediate future), but if I'm to gain some control over my mind's workings then I'm going to have to lay off all those clicks, taps, refreshes and vibrations for a while. Once I've got some control over myself again (and I guess "remapped" a few things up there), only then will I go about delving in again, within some sort of predetermined limits.

Fortunately, there's most certainly hope. As McGuire put it,

The shocking thing was how quickly my mind adapted to accommodate reading books again. I had expected to fight for that concentration – but I didn’t have to fight. With less digital input (no pre-bed TV, especially), extra time (no TV, again), and without a tempting digital device near at hand… there was time and space for my mind to settle into a book.

What a wonderful feeling it was.

I am reading books now more than I have in years. I have more energy, and more focus than I've had for ages. I have not fully conquered my digital dopamine addiction, though, but it's getting there. I think reading books is helping me retrain my mind for focus.

As a passing curiosity: If the fracking bubble pops and you're not on the Internet to read about it, does it still make a sound?

Where have all the Eurotrash Gone?

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 21, 2015

Discuss this article at the Conspiracy Table inside the Diner

Strange things are happening on the Diner.

 

From what I can determine so far based on observation of the stats over the last couple of days, we have been CUT OFF from just about all the Eurotrash Diners other than the Kraut and Dutch Boy Bots.  Occassional hits from the UK and sporadic hits from other countries, but nowhere near the norm.

Similar with South America and Africa.

Something is definitely going on here.

RE

Diner-Map-Europe

Diner Europe Visits April 2015

Roughly 3 days ago, Europe LITERALLY dropped off the Diner Map. On the right is a map of Visits from Eurotrashland we had through the first couple of weeks of April.

As you can see, there are hundreds of Diner Dots, and many of those Dots represent multiple visits from a 39 sq-km radius. Just from the French, Germans and Italians we had a couple of thousand visits in 2 weeks. To get there, you need to be hitting on the pages at least 100 times a day.

All of a SUDDEN though, about 3 days ago just about all traffic from Eurotrashland came to a screaching HALT. I know this because I am online these days nearly 24/7, and have my stats pages open all the time. The Diner Dots just about never flash in Europe now, though they still flash in North America and Oz and NZ.

Stat_Dropoff2Simultaneous with this on the Revolver stats, the Google Analytics stats took a NOSEDIVE. So this isn’t a simply a Revolver problem.

What happened here? I can’t imagine that all of a sudden all the Diners sprinkled around Europe decided simultaneously to stop visiting the Diner. That makes no statistical sense whatsoever.

The only explanation I can come up with is that the Diner is being Filtered and Censored in the European market. Why that would be so I have no idea.

If there are any Eurotrash reading the Forum here, if you would check in at least as a Guest to let us know if the Diner is visible to you, I would appreciate it.  Either in the commentary below on WordPress or on the Diner Forum.

The Global Diners

I do believe the time is drawing nearer where the Diner will no longer be accessible on the World Wide Web. 🙁

I will keep watching the stats, and hopefully this is just some sort of glitch and will be rectified by the techies running the global routers. So far though, just a few Bots seem to be making it through from Europe.

RE

The Netflix Wall, the Netflix Fall

Off the keyboard of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on April 1, 2015

TVdrug

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I think that’s Russian or something

Note: This piece has been cross-posted – and is the inaugural post – on the new website, Nyet-Flix: Home of the End of Film & Television. (Submissions welcome.)

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As far as such things go, March 24th, 2015, marked a momentous day in the annals of film & television in Kiwi land and the land Down Under. As was conveyed to me the day before the occasion by a flabbergasted Canadian I (vaguely) know, “Oh my God! It’s coming? I had no idea! Ugh, they’ve only got, like, six channels here. Kiwis have no idea what they’re missing!”

Astoundingly, no. To their credit, Kiwis apparently don’t have any idea what they’ve been missing out on.

When showing to Kiwis the image of the logo I (ahem) created above, not only did I not get a single chuckle, but all I got was blank stares and disinterest. It didn’t register in the slightest, as apparently nobody was aware of the inherent reference. But that’s most certainly all about to change. Why is that? Netflix has arrived in New Zealand and Australia.

For those non-North Americans who have apparently been living under Ayers rock or something, Netflix is the latest in a relatively long list of motion picture technologies: flip books, magic lanterns, film, television, VHS and BETA, laser discs, DVDs, YouTube, Blu-ray, and now, Netflix. It might be said that Netflix is the ultimate culmination of all the aforementioned, what with laptops, tablets, and smartphones now making motive pictures available when you want them, where you want them.

But as phantasmagorically breath-taking as that may all be, for those aware of climate change and not prone to bouts of cognitive dissonance, a simple question that might pop in one’s head is, “wait a second – does Netflix run on pixie dust, or is it burning up yet more fossil fuels and pumping yet more CO2 into the atmosphere?” With the ever-increasing proliferation of HD televisions, tablets, outdoor big screens, YouTube, DVD and Blu-ray players, and now Netflix, one seriously has to wonder: How sincere are we about this climate change thing? Sure, this blog post and the website it’s on also contribute to escalating emissions, but it’s one thing to try and be part of the solution in a frugal manner, and it’s an entirely different thing to be peddling Netflix, 99.9% of which is about as worthwhile to watch as all those trending Internet videos depicting human procreation practices.

As of yet there is very little evidence that as a whole (and even individually) we’re all that interested in giving up much – if any – of the creature comforts that temporarily allow us to maintain our lifestyles amongst what we call modernity (which would more accurately be called “the fossil fuel era”). In a New York Times article written last year by columnist Mark Bittman, not only was it stated that “we can devise and build flood barriers,” but that “many barriers must be built” (emphasis added).

Snatching a selfie in front of the Netflix Wall while it’s still in its pristine, Bansky-free state

To take the New York Times as the authority on the subject here (and that’s seriously stretching it), are we saying that we’re pretty much consigned to burning up all the fossil fuels and erecting a bunch of (Swiss cheese?) flood barriers? Sure, Bittman did also point out that “much coal [must be] left unburned and methane unpiped, many cattle unborn,” but if all the movie reviews, advertisements, and other artistic bouts of narcissism that adorn the New York Times can be taken as any indication, then Bittman’s words are nothing more than mere lip service. Since Bittman himself stated at The Land Institute‘s 2013 Prairie Festival that he is a firm believer in “great cities,” and since “great cities” are based on massive resource usage (if not resource theft) from surrounding areas, we might as well then be getting on with the business of erecting those flood barriers, while for good measure slapping on some good ol’ advertising exemplifying what places like New York City stand for and essentially come down to.

Granted, the U.S. did also have an actor as president for eight years (photo by United Nations Photo)

Similarly, when we see actors speaking before the United Nations in New York City about climate change, not only can one feel sympathy for those that think the U.N. is a complete farce, but also for climate change deniers who see climate change as a conspiracy being pulled off by a supposed New World Order. That is, how seriously can we take the pronouncements of those whose very livelihoods are based on industries which are uber-dependent on not a small amount, but rather massive amounts, of energy – fossil fuels – for their very existence? Just to make it clear, all those cameras, lights, monitors, microphones, editing systems, movie screens, hordes and hordes of television sets, advertising campaigns, movie tie-ins, promotional tours, and so on, are not powered with “renewable” energy, nor will they ever be, for the simple fact that no combination of “renewable” energies can replace the 90 million or so barrels of oil, plus all the rest of the fossil fuels, that the world burns up every day.

People’s Climate March, New York City: We, the undersigned Netflix-ers & narcissists, hereby want to have our planet & eat it too

To then see pictures of hundreds of thousands of protesters gamboling down New York City streets in a People’s Climate March is to throw absurdity upon absurdity. To be as polite as possible here, the inherent naïveté can be best explained through a few words seen on many of the protest signs: #CLEANENERGY IS HERE (and you can follow the link that the placards display, 100.org, for an example of the utter cluelessness at play here – race cars powered by “renewable” energy?).

With a phalanx of actors being given an outsized share of the media’s attention at the People’s Climate March, what is essentially being said by these voracious consumers and their acolytes (those who patronize them by watching film and/or television) is, “you’d better enact some cuddly new laws to usher in all the wonder-tech that the big, bad oil industry is suppressing, so that that way we don’t actually have to change anything about the way we live our lives” – besides, of course, making a few token eco-purchases at Trade Aid Shops and such which look good amongst one’s chosen social circles.

To risk belabouring the point, what many of us are currently under is the mass delusion that windmills and solar panels and whatever other cutesy technologies can maintain our voraciously consumptive 21st century lives. Although solar panels and such can be useful in the small scale, contrary to what Film & Television’s messenger declared unto the United Nations, there is no chance that “by 2050 clean, renewable energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs,” unless the non-referenced “new research” he mentioned cherry picks the scientific evidence. Although this isn’t the place to elaborate on this discussion (at the very least another post would be required, although Ted Trainer’s rather textbook-ish Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society is a good alternative), suffice it to say that “renewable” energies require fossil fuels for their construction, and when they inevitably break down, not only are “renewable” energies unable to meet our voracious 21st century energy requirements in the first place, but on top of that, they certainly don’t also have the energy output to power all the repairs and “renew” themselves.

Having said all that, since we’re about to go over the far side of Hubbert’s peak (the decline of oil supplies due to peak oil), a fair question to ask is, How much longer are the film & television industries going to be financially viable? Or in other words, how much longer will it be until escalating costs (due to increasing oil prices) and decreasing influxes of cash (due to shrinking levels of disposable incomes) take their toll on the film & television industries and lead to increasing layoffs and bankruptcies spreading throughout “the biz,” eventually resulting in film & television going the way of the dodo bird? Five Years? Ten years? Twenty years? I really haven’t the slightest clue, although Netflix’s chief executive Reed Hastings did state the other day that in “10 or 20 years… most viewing in most countries will be over the Internet.” However, if the rampant layoffs currently occurring in the fracking industry due to oil in the $50 range (and with fracking being the only thing keeping the world from taking a nosedive off the far side of Hubbert’s peak) can be taken as an indication of what is soon to come, then to think that Netflix has a shelf life of ten years, never mind twenty years, may prove to be wildly optimistic. (Regardless of when it occurs, it’s what I’ve nicknamed the Netflix Fall.)

If I haven’t been blunt enough already, then let me try to be so now: film is going kaput; television is going kaput; Netflix is going kaput. Titanic part II, featuring the stunning return of everybody’s favourite People’s Climate March attendee and United Nations Messenger of Peace, is not coming to a theatre near you, a TV near you, or even a Netflix feed near you. Titanic part II is coming to a civilization near you.

No doubt that quitting film & television out of fear-based reactions to the onset of peak oil and the collapse of industrial civilization is not the ideal motivator. I quit both a career in film & television as well as watching the stuff about a decade ago (one year before I’d heard of peak oil), partially because I wanted a more fulfilling life as well as a less superficial livelihood. But the luxury of quitting for such reasons is disappearing as the days go by, getting replaced with the crude motivator of sheer survival.

The sooner we ditch the TVs, evacuate the movie theatres, and rid ourselves of the mind-numbing violence, pornography, vapid advertising, and just plain idiocy – in other words, metaphorically decapitating the Dicaprios of the world – the better position(s) we and our communities will be in in order to deal with the coming (and already occurring) calamities due to climate change, peak oil, and the ensuing collapse of industrial civilization.

Although I’d say that these are issues that need to be widely addressed, our cush jobs and comfortable lifestyles probably aren’t going to last very long if we try speaking of such things in front of the U.N. or in places like the New York Times. Not even as an April Fool’s joke. In other words, expect to find these discussions in alternate venues.

So next time you sit down with a loved one or line up with a friend, and before you hit the power button on the clicker or buy those tickets, try turning to your companion and saying, “hey, have you heard of that peak oil thing that the New York Times and United Nations avoid talking about? Did you know that industrial civilization has begun its collapse?”

Net Neutrality

logopodcastOff the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on March 4, 2015

internet-censorship

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Snippet:

…In theory, “Net Neutrality” sounds great. As I understand it, the idea here is that everybody, from Individual Doomers like me to big Content Distributors like Netflix are all on the same playing field, all with equal opportunity for bandwidth, and most critically, all charged low and affordable prices to distribute your content on the net.

While certainly there are a lot of issues as far as Political Spin is concerned and Da Goobermint would like to Muzzle annoying websites like the Diner, the real underlying battle here is as usual, all about the MONEY.

To look at the money problem of the Internet, you have to go all the way back to its beginnings with the Arpanet, which first came on line in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In those days, all the computers were at Universities and in Goobermint and in large Banks, but the banks at the time just used them for doing number crunching, not for communications.

What infrastructure was developed during these years all came on the Public Dime in some way, through research grants and so forth to the Universities, but the infrastructure was pretty small through those years.

It was only in the 1990s that the explosion of cheap personal computers made creating a vast Network a worthwhile thing to do, before that there just were not enough people who had a computer or even access to one to make such a vast network worthwhile to build…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

The Internet of Things

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on March 1, 2015

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A Dystopian Nightmare Where Everyone And Everything Will Be Monitored On The Internet

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Biometric-Security-Cartoon-By-Welleman.jpgCan you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet?  This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future.  This is something that is being systematically implemented right now.  In 2015, we already have “smart homes”, vehicles that talk to one another, refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, and televisions that spy on us.  Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that opens up some wonderful possibilities.  But there is also a downside.  What if we rapidly reach a point where one must be connected to the Internet in order to function in society?  Will there come a day when we can’t even do basic things such as buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without it?  And what about the potential for government abuse?  Could an “Internet of Things” create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government?  That is something to think about.

Today, the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that it is hard to remember how we ever survived without it.  And with each passing year, the number of devices connected to the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate.  If you have never heard of the “Internet of Things” before, here is a little bit about it from Wikipedia

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.

But there is also a dark side to the Internet of Things.  Security is a huge issue, and when that security is compromised the consequences can be absolutely horrifying.  Just consider the following example

It is a strange series of events that link two Armenian software engineers; a Shenzen, China-based webcam company; two sets of new parents in the U.S.; and an unknown creep who likes to hack baby monitors to yell obscenities at children. “Wake up, you little ****,” the hacker screamed at the top of his digital lungs last summer when a two-year-old in Houston wouldn’t stir; she happened to be deaf. A year later, a baby monitor hacker struck again yelling obscenities at a 10-month-old in Ohio.

Both families were using an Internet-connected baby monitor made by China-based Foscam. The hacker took advantage of a weakness in the camera’s software design that U.S.-based Armenian computer engineers revealed at a security conference in Amsterdam last April.

The Internet allows us to reach into the outside world from inside our homes, but it also allows the reverse to take place as well.

Do we really want to make ourselves that vulnerable?

Sadly, we live at a time when people don’t really stop to consider the downside to our exploding technological capabilities.

In fact, there are many people that are extremely eager to connect themselves to the Internet of Things.

In Sweden, there are dozens of people that have willingly had microchips implanted under the skin.  They call themselves “bio-hackers”, and they embrace what they see as the coming merger between humanity and technology.  The following is what one of the founders of a Sweden based bio-hacking community had to say during one recent interview

“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.

“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innate for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves, be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”

And of course this is happening in the United States as well

In America, a dedicated amateur community — the “biohackers” or “grinders” — has been experimenting with implantable technology for several years. Amal Graafstra, a 38-year-old programmer and self-styled “adventure technologist”, has been inserting various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into the soft flesh between his thumbs and index fingers since 2005. The chips can be read by scanners that Graafstra has installed on the doors of his house, and also on his laptop, which gives him access with a swipe of his hand without the need for keys or passwords.

But you don’t have to have a microchip implant in order to be a part of the Internet of Things.

In fact, there are a whole host of “wearable technologies” that are currently being developed for our society.

For instance, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet?  It will enable medical personnel to constantly monitor your health wherever you are…

Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.

And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.

If that sounded creepy to you, this next item will probably blow you away.

According to one survey, approximately one-fourth of all professionals in the 18 to 50-year-old age bracket would like to directly connect their brains to the Internet…

According to a survey by tech giant Cisco Systems, about a fourth of professionals ages 18 to 50 would leap at the chance to get a surgical brain implant that allowed them to instantly link their thoughts to the Internet.

The study was conducted on 3,700 adults working in white-collar jobs in 15 countries.

“Assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible to their thoughts, roughly one-quarter would move forward with the operation,” the study found.

In the end, they are not going to have to force most of us to get connected to the Internet of Things.

Most of us will do it eagerly.

But most people will never even stop to consider the potential for abuse.

An Internet of Things could potentially give governments all over the world the ability to continually monitor and track the activities of everyone under their power all of the time.

If you do not think that this could ever happen, perhaps you should consider the words of former CIA director David Petraeus

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing”

Are you starting to get the picture?

They plan to use the Internet of Things to spy on all of us.

But we just can’t help ourselves.  Our society has a love affair with new technology.  And some of the things that are being developed right now are beyond what most of us ever dreamed was possible.

For example, Microsoft has just released a new promotional video featuring 3D holograms, smart surfaces, next-generation wearable technologies, and “fluid mobility”…

The elaborate, highly produced video shows jaw-dropping technologies like a SCUBA mask that annotates the sea with 3D holograms, a multipart bracelet that joins together to become a communications device, and interactive, flexible displays that automatically “rehydrate” with information specific to the people using them.

This video from Microsoft was posted on YouTube, and I have shared it below…

So what do you think about all of this?

Distraction, Surveillance, Peak Oil and the End of the Internet

Off the keyboard of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on August 1, 2014

 What happens to our computers when there’s little to nothing left to power them with? (photo © Americanspirit)

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With this article, the Diner introduces a new  Cross Posting Blogger, Allan Stromfeldt Christensen from the blog From Filmers to Farmers.A former filmmaker now turned farmer (as the title of his blog suggests), Allan has been concerned with the issues of Technology and Peak Oil for a long time, but just recently relented in his quest to divorce himself from the Techno Age to begin his blog, basically as a promotional means to get the more traditional Book Writing thing going.He sent me one of his blogs to cross post, and after looking through his fairly new website his perspectives are ones often discussed on the Diner, so I will catch up here on the blogs chronologically, which begin in August of 2014.Allan has actually appeared on the Diner before, in a photograph taken at the Age of Limits conference in 2013, which one of the Diners also attended.  He’s the guy on the left with the Pencil in his ear.

IMG_20130523_212744

Allan should be available inside the Diner to discuss his perspectives and experiences thusfar as we move down the Collapse Highway. -RE

Let me be upfront about one thing: I don’t particularly want to be writing this blog. But as I am an unpublished writer completing his first book in this early twenty-first century of ours, for what should be obvious reasons, I am.

Why don’t I particularly want to be writing this blog?

For one, I’m not a very big fan of the Internet, and beginning in mid-2008 had spent more than five years (mostly) not using it – nor computers in general. To be more specific, I did still use computers at libraries to access their catalogues, after three years I did very sparingly start using email again, and after the fourth year I did occasionally ask a few people to look up various pieces of information for me online. (To be more specific, I wrote the first draft of my manuscript by hand, edited on top of that with a red pen to complete the second draft, typed that out on a circa-1930s Remington typewriter, then had an ever helpful cousin of mine transcribe that over to a computer for me.)

Secondly, when I say I “mostly” didn’t use the Internet, I’m fully aware how intertwined our lives are with the online world and the virtual impossibility of completely separating oneself from it. In this flush-happy modern world of ours, I have no doubt that the chlorine in the drinking water used to make my bodily “waste” go away was purchased, ordered, and delivered by services dependent on the Internet, and that the lever on the toilet might as well have been an “enter” button (or better yet, an “out of sight, out of mind” button).

Nonetheless, my abstention was significant enough to note, but upon moving to a new city in late-2013, where I knew no one, I of course couldn’t go about repeatedly asking my new housemates to give me a hand with various online activities – buying a used desk, chair, bookshelves, etc. So after a five and a half year hiatus I acquiesced, and since November 2013 I’ve been back online. (Note to prospective publishers interested in contacting me about writing a cutesy My 280 Weeks Without the Internet book – forget about it.)

In hindsight, and particularly in regards to writing the manuscript for From Filmers to Farmers, I can now see that abstaining from the Internet is the best thing I could have done those six or so years ago. I’ll digress.

Although I suppose that largely abstaining from the Internet for five and a half years is something someone would do for either highly ideological reasons or to perhaps secure a fat advance from a New York City book publisher (again, please don’t contact me), the rather anti-climactic reason for why I began my hiatus was little more than the result of a gut feeling. I suppose I was always irked by the fossil fuels I had to burn through in order to do a bit of online reading, my contribution to the destruction of the ecosphere in order to mine the rare earth elements necessary for the construction of my computer (partaken on my behalf by multinational corporations), as well as the amount of Asian coolies I used by proxy in order to assemble my computer’s components and all the others that made the network possible. So sure, although that stuff and more often went through my head, it wasn’t as if some moral epiphany had suddenly washed over me. Instead, having given up filmmaking – and so film and video cameras – a few years earlier, it just seemed like the appropriate thing to do in the natural progression of things.

It wasn’t until I was about two years into my hiatus (which, for all I knew, was going to last my whole life) that I got a strong confirmation for what I was doing. This came courtesy of what I think is not only the best book that has been written about the Internet, but the best book that can be written about the Internet. That would be Nicolas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. I won’t give a summation here, but I will point out that the book provides ample scientific evidence of how the Internet hampers our minds from thinking very creatively or deeply, and that multitasking is much more of a hindrance than a benefit to our thought processes and productivity.

Although I didn’t expect it to be so blatant, Carr’s conclusions became readily obvious to me in the final half a year of my hiatus when I increasingly asked other people to open various webpages for me. And not only did I continue to access library catalogues, but I also began to heavily peruse the catalogues of online booksellers. As my usage increased I noticed my ability to concentrate on my research and note-taking significantly deteriorating, and I went from being able to sit down for hours at a time at the library to repeatedly “needing” to get up and log onto a computer, only to end up tapping away at the refresh button on my email account with repeated fruitless clicks. Not only that, but all this occurred even though I was readily aware that virtually nobody ever emailed me except for a few seed saving organizations I had joined and/or volunteered with, as well as various unsolicited organizations that repeatedly sent me what I presume were targeted emails with offers of various pills and other concoctions that promised to increase the size of my “member” (to this day I’m still not sure how the Internet and all its devious algorithms deciphered that well-kept secret of mine – curses that darn NSA!)

Anyway, having now jumped back onto the Internet bandwagon full-force (minus online video), my ability to sit down and concentrate on the research for my manuscript has been decimated. At best my work output is somewhere between a third and a half of what it used to be, and not simply because I spend a half to two-thirds less time at my work and in front of a computer instead; while I used to be able to read a book for hours on end, a half an hour is now an accomplishment for me. Similarly, when I’m sitting down at work the productivity just isn’t there anymore, more and more of my time being spent twirling my pen between my fingers and daydreaming about nothing of importance, probably deep down anticipating when I’m going to give in and let myself get up and log onto a computer again. And for what, you may ask? To log into my email account and find out that no one has emailed me; to discover that my website has had no new visitors since I last checked; and to perhaps visit one of the two news portals I peruse and read a few fairly interesting articles on energy supplies and/or about the latest tit-for-tat resource war shenanigans between those nations vying for the remaining dregs in this early peak oil era of ours.

In fact, this very website you’re on is the product of the distraction I’m talking about. While it’s hard to deny that the kind of book that I, an unknown writer, am writing in this modern era pretty much requires a website for promotional reasons, I also can’t deny that the construction of the site provided ample fodder for me to feed into my newfound Internet reliance (unless addiction isn’t too strong of a word). I spent about a month on and off building it, which included teaching myself how to code HTML and CSS, as well as how to manipulate (but mostly just copy and paste) JavaScript, PHP and Ajax that other people had coded. (I did this on a loaner as I don’t own a computer and haven’t bought one since I purchased a brand new Apple G4 back in 2000, and which was disposed of years ago.) When I then tried to take myself away from coding my site in order to work on the prep work for my last draft, I found my mind repeatedly unable to concentrate very well, it probably having gotten too used to the hyper-stimulated environment of clicking and jumping between links and pages on the Internet (again, see The Shallows).

That’s one of my two main gripes with the Internet. The other, contrary to what gets bandied about in fashionable circles today, has nothing to do with net neutrality or the whole Snowden/NSA brouhaha. For what concerns me is the longevity of the Internet, and what its demise portends for a civilization that without it, for one, would barely have any idea what to do with its own feces.

Let me be quick to point out that when I say “demise” I don’t refer to some imminent coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun or an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) unleashed by some rogue nation, both of which could theoretically cripple electronic infrastructures in an instant and usher entire societies into utter chaos virtually overnight. No. What I’m talking about is the slow and comparatively uneventful demise of the Internet due to peaking supplies of oil, other forms of energy, and the rare earth elements required for construction of the computers and the rest of the paraphernalia that makes up the Internet. In other words, not an overnight crash, but the decades-long slip into the up-and-coming dark ages.

As put in one of author John Michael Greer’s excellent peak oil books, The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered,

To suggest that the Internet will turn out to be, not the wave of the future, but a relatively short-lived phenomenon on the crest of the age of cheap abundant energy, is to risk running headlong into the logic of abundance… It’s essential not to get caught up in thinking of how many advantages the Internet might provide to a post-abundance world, because the advantages conferred by the Internet in no way mean that it must continue to exist. The fact that something provides an advantage does not guarantee that it is economically viable.

So while issues of online privacy and access may at best offer a passing interest to me, what really concerns me is how our uber-dependent society is going to manage without its ever-present www intravenous (or to be more specific, without cheap energy). How many businesses are you aware of that would still be able to function, or even know how to function, without the Internet? How about their suppliers? The transportation system which they rely on? It ends up being not much of a joke to wonder how long our porcelain goddesses would continue to woosh away, regardless of them not having a direct connection to the digital realm.

Falling through the looking glass (photo © Rangizzz, adapted by ASC)

Not exactly a topic du jour amongst polite company, how many of us are talking about this? Does Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State address any of this? No. Does Mr. Snowden? Not that I’ve read. Does The New York Times, The Toronto Star, The Melbourne Age? Fat chance of that. Even read through eco-oriented magazines and some peak oil writings and it’s not uncommon to come across pronouncements of the Internet as harbinger of a post-carbon era where a world of diverse local communities is bound together through the deliverance of ones and zeroes. I’m not sure if I should then call it a sad fact or not, but I suppose it should come as no surprise that pretty much all of what’s been written about the Internet’s demise exists, of all places, on the Internet.

Conscious of the fact that most of us seem to be giddily sleepwalking over the edge like a mob of true believers, I see no good reason why I should (re)create too much of a dependency on the Internet, it probably being a good idea to ween oneself and one’s community away from it as much as feasible. What kind of a timeline am I talking about here? Honestly, I haven’t the faintest idea, but I certainly don’t expect the Internet as we know it to be around for the duration of my lifetime. (That being said, I think it’s fair to say that when the Internet does start to go down, for various reasons it’ll be rural areas that lose their connections first.)

But in the meantime, should we not be concerned with the recent NSA leaks and such? Well, sure, I’ve read 1984. And yes, the surveillance state will probably get significantly more uncomfortable for many of us before its existence is significantly threatened by the diminishing returns of a post peak oil world. But nonetheless, from what I can tell there’s absolutely nothing revelationary that the recent NSA leaks have pointed out (either because you’ve already read books by James Bamford and such, or you simply applied common sense), while the repeated libertarian cries for digital rights amount to what are basically little more than shrill cries of fossil fuelled privilege, the demands all the more delusional when we consider the Internet’s inherent bias towards surveillance. (Erroneous talk of technological neutrality is fodder for another blog post, along with another about our ever-ridiculous technological optimism. But those parts of the manuscript need to be elaborated upon before they can be copied and pasted to this blog.)

I’ll never forget that day I first read about the NSA leaks, a friend of mine later that evening whipping out his cellphone and showing me the PRISM logo, followed by some unpleasant words about being spied upon. Concluding our conversation, my friend then turned to his fiancé and said, “come on honey, let’s go set up your new media box” (a device with which to watch digital content on a television set). Frankly, I don’t think I could sum up my feelings more clearly than by quoting from one of the greatest books of this early twenty-first century, Andrew Nikiforuk’s The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude: “The people on fossil fuels [are] perhaps the most narcissistic and bankrupt cohort in the history of the species.”

And never mind the problems within a digital world, what about the problems outside of the digital world? Do you have any idea of the hassle and interrogation one gets crossing an international border when customs finds out that you don’t own a cellphone? (Hello Australia and the US!)

In summation, what should be the real story of importance here is not privacy rights or equal access to the Internet’s transmission lines, but what – if anything – our preparation for the Internet’s demise will be.

Update 01/01/2015: So as to not give the impression that I’m some computer-coding whiz kid, I’ll point out that at the end of 2014 I did spend another month on-and-off fiddling around with the website, as well as figuring out how to build a site for mobile phones (which I somewhat did). Although I still don’t own a computer and did all the coding on a friend’s netbook and on library computers, I do now own a cellphone. That is, a friend gave me his spare iPhone 4 so that I could build the mobile site. But that being said, I don’t have a SIM card, and so no mobile number either.

Where Have All the Doomers Gone?

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 24, 2014

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I’ve been chronicling Collapsing Economics on the Internet since 2008, after the collapse of the Investment banking firm Bear Stearns.  I knew nothing of Peak Oil at the time, and I had not really concerned myself with the monetary system, Stocks, Bonds, Investing etc since the 1980s.

I spent about the first month just trying to figure out why Bear Stearns went south, and why there was a run on the bank.  Eventually this led me to the PeakOil.com website, which at the time was very active in the commentary.  I learned a lot over there from folks who had been tracking this since even before the site was founded in 2004, and over time I got hold of the relationship between the Energy Depletion issues and the Monetary Problems going on at the time.  What would inevitably occur became quite clear, and I wrote this line in 2008:

“It will all Burn Up in the Greatest Bonfire of Paper Wealth in all of Recorded History”

A “Quote of the Month” on Peak Oil, and the Bonfire is well underway now, country after country falls into economic collapse, more Amerikans are on SNAP Card food assistance every year, and the geopolitical consequences become ever more dangerous by the day here.

Despite the fact the consequences become ever more obvious every day, it appears that there is ever less discussion about this on the internet.  Besides the economic issues, the climate problems become more apparent every day as well, drought in California, record snowfall in Buffalo, Super Typhoons hitting SE Asia on a weekly basis, you name it evidence of vast climate change is in evidence everywhere, but still the Deniers just return with “of course the climate changes, it always changes”.  True enough, but what it it changes so much it’s impossible to live in your local environment anymore because the floods come so often or because there is no water to drink?

On top of all that, you have the Ebola virus spreading in Africa, and ever escalating geopolitical conflicts between Russia and NATO, the Chinese and Japanese, and then of course ISIS Radical Muslims Beheading anyone they can get their hands on to strike TERROR into the heart of the average Oil Konsumer.

By EVERY measure in EVERY area of Collapse, there is way more in evidence today than when I started chronicling it on Peak Oil in 2008.  Conversely though, the worse it gets, the LESS people engage to discuss it, both in the commentary of Collapse blogs as well as the main Collapse Bloggers themselves.

The main folks who have been chronicling this the longest, people like Jim Kunstler and Dmitry Orlov rehash material they have been using for a decade, with the only real update to this whatever the latest manifestation is out in the real world in Current Events.  For people who have been following the collapse this long, there are no real NEW observations to make.

Far as the commentary goes anywhere, it’s all ideological bullshit and stupidity, from the commentary of Zero Hedge to The Burning Platform and back to Peak Oil too.  Anyone online in the collapse blogosphere has heard it all before, and basically anyone with any intelligence has STOPPED talking about it.  Folks like George Mobus, Paul Chefurka, David Korowicz, Nicole Foss and others have simply dropped off the map for the most part, nothing left to say, the die is cast and the Show will go on no matter what kind of Jawboning goes down on the net, or in Congress or at the European Parliament too for that matter.

This seems to have led to a kind of malaise, as folks just tun inward and pursue their own lives in the face of how collapse is affecting them.  Why talk about it on the Internet now?  We all know what is coming down the pipe here.

For me, I have come to realize that it really is not that important if people are talking or not, if there is discussion or not, I’m just observing it now.  I also will not change my opinion on where it is all going in any debate, and I am certainly not going to waste my time with Ideologues who will pitch their spin no matter how much evidence to the contrary show that it’s wrong headed.

So nowadays, I don’t look for or expect conversation on the topics, I just observe it and write down the observations as it occurs, a kind of contemporary history file overall.

EVERYBODY KNOWS what is coming down the pipe now.  As Leonard Cohen wrote so long ago now:

“Take one last look at this Sacred Heart before it BLOWS”

because anybody with any Common Fucking Sense now KNOWS IT WILL BLOW, and we won’t have to wait another 50 years for it to blow either.  In fact it is blowing as we speak, but if the implosion hasn’t yet hit your neighborhood or your job, you can still delude yourself into believing it all will work out OK in the end.

We have a little time left here, how much is anybody’s guess these days, so for everyone I suggest you try to find a little bit of Happiness and enjoy your life as it is, if you have not yet fallen off the Cliff and Collapse has not yet reached your doorstep.  Enjoy cooking and eating good food if it is available, drive the countryside while there is still gas at the pump, even go Shop On Black Friday at Walmart if finding Bargains is what floats your boat.

If you are very fortunate, you will find some others to join with as the Flowers Wilt.  For me, the Great Gift of the Diner was to find a few other people to observe this with, and it is the Gift that Keeps on Giving.

On Being Misinformed

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on August 30, 2014

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“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” Mark Twain
When you consider the immense challenges and problems that lie ahead of us, which include climate change, peak energy and resources and ecological overshoot, you might begin to wonder why this isn’t front page news day after day. Indeed, after flicking through a few newspapers and surfing a few television news channels and finding not much beyond celebrity news, sports updates and political commentary, you might indeed begin to wonder whether the issues discussed in blogs like this one are not merely something for people with too much time on their hands to contemplate, or worse, a paranoid illusion. This naturally begs the very reasonable question: if our civilisation is indeed circling the drain then why isn’t it in the news very often?
This is a very interesting question and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no single easy answer to it. Some people might insist that there is a global conspiracy to keep ‘the real news’ out of the reach of ordinary people, but having worked in several news rooms I can easily discount this from first-hand experience that no such conspiracy exists.* Instead, the answer is far more complex and nuanced and has its basis in herd psychology, money and the religion of progress. 
Taking the first of these three, herd psychology is probably the most obvious driver of the content that appears before our eyes in the form of newspaper print and television images. News organisations copy one another, and there is safety in numbers. The news media is traditionally a system of information dispersal that is hierarchical in its structure and relies upon a network made up of nodes of information providers that includes government spokespeople, company PR departments, experts, politicians and a bewildering array of people who claim to have a piece of unique information. Near the top of the food chain are news agencies who gather this diffuse information and sell it on down the network to other news organisations, who either republish it without modification, or else shape it to fit the style and prejudices of their particular audience. Thus a bland piece of information which states that the economy grew by 0.1% in Q3, can be interpreted as either a disaster or a cause to pop open the champagne bottles depending on whether the ownership/readership of the news organ supports government policy or not. 
When twisting information in this way to create a narrative there is an inherent danger. Propaganda, defined as the act of deliberately and one-sidedly shaping communications in a way that changes the thoughts and opinions of the target, has probably been practiced ever since humans learned to communicate by speech. Originally defined in religious terms—it derives from the Latin verb to grow—its use has become far more widespread and covert in modern times, with various techniques employed to ensure its efficacy. Two of the main techniques used today include omitting relevant information, and repeating the message ad infinitum. A prime example of this is the well-funded oil industry which uses propaganda to try and influence public opinion towards a belief that climate change is not real. It pumps money into key nodes in the upper echelons of the information hierarchy, notably small but influential think tanks and columnists in the right-wing news media, who then focus obsessively on small contradictions and anomalies in published climate science articles, creating doubt in the mind of the news consumer. By repeating this message over and over, the reader or viewer comes to a conclusion along the lines of ‘Well, if there wasn’t some truth in it then why’s it all over the news?’
Of course, we’re right in the middle of such a spectacle right now, with virtually all of the western media focusing dutifully on the official narrative that Russia is poised to launch a war against the peace-loving west. This is proving to be highly successful from the point of view of policy wonks in Washington, but disastrous to anyone who cares for the truth and enjoys living in a peaceful world. 
This kind of mind manipulation is not always sinister in the Machiavellian sense, but it does go to prove that messages can be hammered home effectively if the power structure and money is there (the west spent some $5 billion funding the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected government, although you don’t often see this fact published in the everyday media). It also leads to the creation of journalistic narratives, which are the bane of objective journalism. A journalistic narrative is a lazy way of conveying information that relies upon the fact that human beings love a good story. Journalism text books state that every story must have a human angle, which is a way of saying that nothing outside the human world is relevant unless it impinges upon us, and this is drummed into the heads of young reporters as soon as they start their careers. What they don’t state is that these human angles can take on a life of their own and create narratives that, once unleashed, are harder to strap down again than Frankenstein’s monster Adam. 
Once you are aware of these narratives it is easy to recognise them and it pays to be wary whenever you spot one. Going with the earlier example of economic news again, economics and finance journalists are able to employ the narrative of the sick patient. Because the vast majority of people understand very little about economics but, one way or another, have a vested interest in the economy performing well for their own personal wellbeing it necessitates journalists to use this sick patient metaphor. Hence all the talk of ‘recovery’. A recovery following a long illness is something that everyone can relate to—after all, they might not understand all of the medical terminology but they can certainly see that the patient has recovered when the colour has returned to his face and he’s sitting up in bed. The journalistic narrative of the ‘recovery’ which has been splashed all over the news for the last nine months or so makes good copy and will provide some cheer: the patient has made a full recovery – hurrah! But is it the truth?
In this case, the recovery that is being spoken of is framed in terms of GDP growth. But a little closer analysis reveals less to be excited about. The banking system is teetering on the edge of systemic collapse, personal debt has reached unprecedented levels, the velocity of money has plunged to depression levels, job security is at all-time lows—indeed almost every vital sign of the immensely complex system we call ‘the economy’ seems to be in a state of crisis—except for the stock markets, of course, which are inflated to bursting point from frenziedly feeding on liquidity. 
So, from practically every angle we have an economic disaster for the majority of people, but every major news source we look at, from the BBC to the Sun, talks about ‘the recovery’ as if it were a done deal. If the economy were indeed a hospital patient it would be a very sickly one—akin to a doctor pointing at a terminal cancer patient in a coma and saying he is in recovery because his toenails are growing longer. But the journalistic narrative of ‘the recovery’, which was likely talked up by various ministers and think tanks has got out of control and is now unchallengeable because to challenge it is to try and prove a negative. Journalists can get away with writing about it without the need to fact check because it has entered into the realm of ‘received wisdom’, along with immigrants being ‘benefits tourists’, gas fracking being a ‘bonanza’ and any of the other narratives that have been hatched, incubated and let loose. The only way that such narratives can be brought back in line with reality is for some shock to the system powerful enough to make journalists snap out of their slumber.
So propaganda can create journalistic narratives which people then use as the building blocks for their thought patterns, creating further feedback loops which impede the flow of valuable ‘real’ information into the public realm. This in turn creates a ‘don’t rock the boat’ mentality among news media, because although news outlets are notionally in competition with one another, in reality they share similarities with a tribe mentality. There is safety in numbers and if one news outlet breaks from the pack a taboo has been broken and disastrous consequences could ensue. 
A further powerful driver of news content is – surprise, surprise – money. This should be obvious enough but I will illustrate it with an example from my own life. I once lived in a beautiful part of southern Spain among the mountains and not too far from the coast. Our small farmhouse was situated in an idyllic series of valleys, little touched by modern civilisation because the access was so difficult and the natural environment provided bounteous amounts of fresh food and spiritual balm. One day I decided to walk to the top of the highest mountain there and, upon reaching the summit, I saw a terrible sight. On the coast nearby there stretched an immense sea of white that went all the way to the horizon out to the east. I had heard about the alarming spread of plastic greenhouses that were eating up the land, but from my vantage point I could clearly see it was spreading our way and would soon engulf the entire area. Further research revealed that this was a huge get-rich-quick scheme in which thousands of illegal wells were being drilled into the aquifer to irrigate the greenhouses. The salad crops grown within were exported north to European supermarkets and in their wake they left a trashed landscape of fluttering plastic, depleted aquifers and poisoned wells. Furthermore, local politicians had decided to divert water from local rivers to supply this plastic salad industry, which would mean the life of the area where I lived would soon be gone.
I had to do something to try and stop this so I set up a small local newspaper with the aim of highlighting the threat. I called it the Olive Press, and it was run from a small office in the main provincial town of Orgiva. It attracted a lot of attention, and its green focus drew in lots of writers who were keen to voice their concern about the ongoing destruction of their local environment. It became a great success in all but one thing: money. Every month I found that costs seemed to go up, but income remained anaemic at best. Everyone, it seemed, said they loved it, but they also wanted it for free and were unwilling or unable to support it financially. Eventually myself and the other editor decided to employ a salesman, who in fact worked as an estate agent in the adjoining office block. The first thing he did was turf out all of the small advertisers who were having trouble keeping up with their payments, and instead focused on bigger advertisers. So it was out with all the crystal healers, dog groomers and men with strummers, and in with the larger real estate agents, private medical practices and dodgy-looking investment opportunities.
Soon the money began to roll in and we could relax a little. People further afield began to hear about the newspaper and we began to expand. The print run was racketed up to 20,000 copies a fortnight and we would drive all over the province delivering them in bundles. Most of the stories we covered focused on local corruption and abuses of the environment. 
But this greater coverage and exposure came at a price and soon the complaints started to come in. One estate agent said he was ‘embarassed’ to show a copy of the Olive Press to potential buyers. He said it might put them off investing property in the region. Another businessman cancelled his full-page advert because he said the news within was ‘too realistic’. The sales manager asked us if we could ‘tone it down’ and publish some more light-hearted pieces. Both of us resisted and, as a result, money became tight again. I wrote an editorial about how climate change would likely change the region to a dustbowl a few decades hence and was slightly shocked to see that it ended up being printed opposite a full page advert for a low-cost airline. A clear split had emerged between myself and the sales staff, of which there were now three. It all ended acrimoniously, of course. After a year more of dysfunction I was forced to leave the newspaper, selling my share to a former Daily Mail showbiz columnist, who abandoned its original remit and instead focused on the glitzy Costa del Sol, where there was much more money. These days it is the largest foreign newspaper in Spain, and is full of stories about celebrity sightings.
Afterwards I realised this experience had taught me a valuable lesson in how money warps and eventually overwhelms the messages that a supposedly unbiased media is meant to portray. And although this was just a small newspaper the same thing can be seen happening throughout the mainstream media as long as advertising pays for content. Thankfully, a proliferation of blogs has sprung up like weeds between paving stones, eager to supply information that ranges from the relatively objective to the downright opinionated – but without the corrupting influence of having to chase a dollar. 
Finally, although the above might shed at least some light onto why the news media is systemically incapable of being objective in assessing risk and communicating this to the wider public, there is another factor at play which is a lot less tangible. The simple fact is that some truths may be too unpalatable to recount. Delivering bad news on the state of industrial civilisation is a modern day taboo, and it should come as no surprise that news editors avoid it like the, ahem, plague. Although it might make a quirky opinion piece or two, the nebulous and often unquantifiable nature of the subject matter and the inevitably shrill reactions of those who object makes for nervous editors. Talking about ecological overshoot in polite company is like waving a red flag at a bull. Before you know it a sensible discussion about finite carrying capacities has sunk into a slanging match of hurled insults and vituperous abuse and any further discussion becomes impossible. Highlighting our own limitations as a species is always going to be controversial – it’s taking the human interest angle just a step too far. 

 

Thus we are left in the situation where people are able to pick and choose their media based on their prejudices. The wonders of the internet mean that one never has to be troubled by troubling news again and you can indeed configure it so that you are treated to a continuous stream of videos of celebrities pouring buckets of water over their heads. Alternatively you can set your feeds, blogrolls and social media likes to permit you to gorge yourself on stories of collapse, economic frights, pandemics, massacres, beheadings and ecocide until you fall down dead over your keyboard. And that’s the magic of technology.
Was it ever thus?
* On the other hand, I find it perfectly feasible that the editors and publishers of mainstream national press organisations are routinely called in for ‘meetings’ and asked ‘politely’ to avoid publishing material that is not in the national interest for reasons of security or to avoid economic panics.
 

Tech, Our Children & Our Future

Off the keyboards of the Diners

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Published on the Doomstead Diner June 10, 2014

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Many of you new Diner Readers may not be aware that all the content of the Diner is not on the WordPress Blog here.  Besides WordPress, we also run a Simple Machines Forum where Diners can hash out topics of interest, start their own threads and even create their own “Micro-Blogs” on the forum without having to go through any of the issues of setting up Blogspot or Worpress Blogs of your own.Below is a recent conversation that took place between the Diners regarding the effects of Internet Technology and Smart Phones on the next generation of Homo Sapiens.We welcome you to join us in these discussions, and bring your own perspectives to the pages of the Doomstead Diner.  Click on the Forum Link on the Top Menu bar, and bring your perspective to bear as we witness the Collapse of Industrial Civilization together, for as long as the Internet lasts.
RE

Offline GypsyMama

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TECH, our children and our future
« on: June 06, 2014, 08:11:08 PM »

I’m currently reading this book:
“The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age”
by Catherine Steiner-Adair EdD.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Disconnect-Protecting-Relationships/dp/0062082426

…and am a bit ANTI Tech at the moment.  I fear for our future as blue hairs… I fear for the freakin’ MENTALITY that is to come for children in our present who will become the “adults” of our future.  I regularly witness parents who ignore their children and coddle their smart phones.  I see toddlers wielding ipads.  I watch parents ticky ticky texty away on their phones while their kids play, un-supervised, as a child should at playgorounds.

I’m sure that parents of the ages before us have griped about the changes they see occurring with the parental youth of our future…but DAMN!  WHAT THE HELL is WRONG with these parents!?!?!?!  Why can’t they just be PRESENT for their children without an addiction to a freakin’ mobile device???

What has social media done to us?

We are losing the ability to communicate, although these folk seem to think  that they MUST link themselves up to their smart phones to “communicate” with their “FRIENDS.”

The book speaks of how our future generations will miss out on cognitive developments that are CRUCIAL to a child’s CHILDHOOD because of DIGITAL DEVICES which are sucking the NATURE out of NURTURE.  Creating apps to “learn about Mother Nature” while sitting next to an indoor window as Mother Nature herself is easily and readily accessible to give these children an UPFRONT and PERSONAL lesson about her if these kids would only drop the screen and GO OUTSIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What the Hell is happening to our culture???

A new leaf has turned in my mind.  I’m a bit frazzled (obviously) and also a bit truthful (on the vino)…but since I can’t freakin’ gripe about it on a SOCIAL MEDIA site, which is, unfortunately, the best way to REACH PEOPLE these days… here I am… gripin’ to you’z diners…since LD has thought of all of this before.  Since I seem to be walking the winding curve of the Nitrous propelled path.  Since no one in Facebookland seems to have a problem with this issue.  Since I’m such a counterculturalist hippie.  Since no one is connected to Nature anymore…

I think this book has flipped a switch within me.

How do you feel that TECH and addiction to “screen time” has/will affect the children of the present and the adults of our future?

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Re: TECH, our children and our future
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2014, 08:25:54 PM »

How do you feel that TECH and addiction to “screen time” has/will affect the children of the present and the adults of our future?

Certainly has made a clusterfuck in the current generation, but it is a temporary phenomenon.  MAX this nonsense has in terms of future lifespan is another 20 years, regardless of what Ray Kurzweil thinks.

It’s just the end stage of what has gone on since Radio first hit the scene in the early 1900s, and people would gather around the new Vacuum Tube Radio sets to listen to The Shadow or George Burns & Gracie Allen.  Then TV came along, and everybody gathered around to watch the bucolic suburban life of Ozzie & Harriet, and receive Parenting Advice from single dads like Fred MacMurray (My Three Sons), Bill Bixby (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father), and Brian Keith (A Family Affair).

Now we got the Social Media, sinking to ever new lows all the time.

It is always Darkest Before the Dawn.  This shit won’t last.

RE

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Re: TECH, our children and our future
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2014, 09:09:54 PM »

How do you feel that TECH and addiction to “screen time” has/will affect the children of the present and the adults of our future?

It is always Darkest Before the Dawn.  This shit won’t last.

RE

It is terrifying. Children allowed to have unsupervised access to the wide wide world of the internet.
“Sexting” and bullying without remorse.  A serious lack of empathy.  Dropping vulgar and senseless, hurtful comments onto anothers “wall” through a keyboard so that you don’t have to see the reaction you’re causing the person on the other end of your comment to suffer.

This shit SUCKS.

But you’ve reiterated what LD said to me tonight at the Dinner table…  We’re on the decline.
Damn it.
This shit is depressing.

Best to try to stay positive, of course…
but when you take your kids to the library for story time and the parents who are at the LIBRARY (where educating yourself seems a bit more possible than in Walmart) are tethered to their smart phones… you know that the shit has been flung with monkey flingin’ force at the proverbial fan.

I wish, sometimes that I had my finger on the big red button that could put an END to the internet… but then I think of The Diner and the folks I have met because of it and I retract my center digit a bit…

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Re: TECH, our children and our future
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2014, 09:37:22 PM »

I wish, sometimes that I had my finger on the big red button that could put an END to the internet… but then I think of The Diner and the folks I have met because of it and I retract my center digit a bit…

Like everything else, the Internet can be a Force for EVIL or a Force for GOOD.

Here, the Jedi Knights of the Diner fight the Dark Side Lords of the Sith:icon_mrgreen:

Succumb not to the Dark Side, Gypsy Mama.

Win, we will.

No Dark Force can stand up to Grammar Bad.  :icon_mrgreen:

Yoda RE

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Re: TECH, our children and our future
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2014, 05:24:44 AM »

I have given a lot of thought to this topic.It would seem that the accountants are still totaling up the economic consequences of the disruptive force of the Internet. Think Amazon. By enabling the capacity for automation, the Internet has sucked the labor out of many thousands of operations. If you’re operating a business, who can resist the labor and cost saving opportunities of turning your service into a self-serve commodity? If that is at all possible? When you network many together, both opportunities and obstacles arise. Businesses have certainly sees the opportunity.RE sez

Quote from: RE

It’s just the end stage of what has gone on since Radio first hit the scene in the early 1900s, and people would gather around the new Vacuum Tube Radio sets to listen to The Shadow or George Burns & Gracie Allen.  Then TV came along, and everybody gathered around to watch the bucolic suburban life of Ozzie & Harriet, and receive Parenting Advice from single dads like Fred MacMurray (My Three Sons), Bill Bixby (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father), and Brian Keith (A Family Affair).

I think that what we are seeing today is far more disruptive than a natural outgrowth of people using media. To my way of thinking, the constant and ongoing engagement with a network of individuals through a glass screen you can take with you is analogous to the difference between 2-D printing and 3-D printing. Back in the day, when people used to gather around the radio or the TV, it was an “appointment.” Even a family activity, shared experience. Now we are atomized individuals, each is unique as our own logon, and engaged in… What exactly? Sharing cat memes, “liking” someone’s Facebook post, bitching about what she wore at the Oscars. Feh. But the good news is that the NSA knows where you are, what your opinions are, what you share with others, and now as we learn this week, even what you look like. You and all your friends. So we’ve got that going for us. To the extent that it is media, it is self-created media, and something new altogether which bears watching.

GM, I certainly take seriously your observation in re-children and the Internet. Our first reaction would be to ask where the parents are? Giving a child unsupervised use of the Internet is like giving him unsupervised use of a loaded handgun. It seems that every nine-year-old now has his own mobile phone. As the person responsible for the bulk of the diners social media activity, I find great irony in this, but the use of Facebook, twitter and other networks to gain “friends” leads to a number of undesirable consequences. First of all, you neglect your real life relationships in many cases while staring at the glass screen. Secondly, many people find themselves engaging in pointless diatribes with unconvincing bull others regarding their opinions, especially political opinions, which most people hold more dearly than they do their own religious beliefs (should they have any.) What an utter and complete waste of time and effort. Thirdly, under color of the pseudo-anonymity that web activity seems to provide, people say hurtful things, the content of which may be quickly forgotten, but the feeling of never forgotten. And of course this, as it metastasizes, leads to the sort of cyber bullying and hazing that occasionally breaks through in the media.

Again one might ask, “where are the parents?”

But at least we have the dinner hour:

For the rest, CHECK OUT THE DINER FORUM!

RE

Paranoia Squared

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 26, 2014

http://www.demotivationalposters.org/image/demotivational-poster/0910/paranoia-october-challange-bruce-campbell-evil-dead-army-of-demotivational-poster-1256131803.jpg

Discuss this article at the Guerilla Free Speech Table inside the Diner

Communicating on the Internet is full of all sorts of hazards.  Two of the biggest are the loss of Privacy resultant from dropping your thoughts on far distant Disk Drives run by other people and the fact that both Da Goobermint and Private Individuals can ascertain who you are and in some cases also where you live.

Over my years participating on the Internet in chat rooms and on forums and blogs, I have pursued a semi-Anonymous paradigm.  I write under a Nom-de-Plume, and my email addresses don’t feature my real name, like say Joe.Sixpack@beer.com. 🙂

So for the typical user who reads something I write, I am anonymous to them. Reason for this is that dropping your real name out there to the world at large can cause you all sorts of problems if somebody is annoyed at what you wrote.  They can find out where you work, and you can get harrassed on the job because of it.  In fact, going back to my earliest years in internet participation, I actually got fired from a job because some critiques I wrote of my industry got back to my employer of the time.

After that less than pleasant experience, I elected to do all my writing as an Anon, under the nom-de-plume most of the time in recent years in the Collapse Blogosphere as Reverse Engineer, aka RE.  This allows me to write my thoughts more freely, without so much fear of Blowback from it.  However, as I got deeper into internet participation and eventually started up my own websites with my own URLs and server space, I began to realize how really limited this level of Anonymity is.  When you register a URL (the Uniform Resource Locator which is your Web Address), you have to pay for that, and to do that you have to use a Credit/Debit card with your real name on it.  This goes into the database of all the owners of URLs, which can be looked up by anyone.  You can pay EXTRA to have your personal info masked to the public at large, but it of course always visible to the NSA as well as all the Admins of various routers that transit the information.

The next area of vulnerability is in participation on privately run websites, where whether you sign up or not, each time you post up your IP address is recorded along with whatever content you dropped on.  This IP address is Unique to the computer you were keyboarding on at the time, and records also the Host through which you are connected to the net.  In some cases it is possible to nail down a location just from this information.  For instance, if you are connected up to a Hotel WiFi and there is no masking or proxy servers being used, any Admin can see what hotel you are staying at when you make a post.

Internet surfers who are both truly paranoid as well as quite savvy will mask their locations by using proxy servers, if they do this then the typical Admin of a website can’t discern their location just from the listed IP address, though Tracing is possible and done by for-pay Security firms specializing in this sort of stuff.  Again for the NSA, this level of adding personal security is pretty much a waste of time too unless you are very, VERY good at it.  I am certainly not that good, so I simply no longer worry about being listed and followed by the NSA, if they deem my stuff worthy of following.

At the level of the individual website though, the folks who sign themselves up and post Anonymously hope to REMAIN Anon to the population at large.  So if/when they find out or realize that the Admin on their favored site has checked into who they are and where they are posting from, they get the feeling their Privacy has been Violated.  Has it been?

Not really, because the moment you sign up or even just post up, you GIVE AWAY certain privacy rights.  You cannot participate without your IP showing up with the post.  From the POV of the website Owner/Admin, you have to know the IP addys, because if you have Troublesome people on your website, this is the only way you can Ban them.  Troublesome people include Spammers who throw on Pharmaceutical and Video links in with their post as well as Trolls who drop on the site specifically to disrupt the conversations taking place and deliver their own agenda to the readers.

Here on the Diner, I have a basically No Ban policy except for Spammers, but even so with the Trolls I keep track of the IP addys so I know if somebody is posting under more than one Screen ID.  Besides the general practical problem of keeping the conversation civil and on track, there are also legal issues you face if you have a particularly extreme commenter show up on your site.  Such a commenter might be someone who is a Neo-Nazi advocating a Violent Revolution who also posts up Diagrams for making IEDs and maybe even Nuclear Bombs.  Or  somebody who persistently makes links to and embeds explicit Pornography.  I have never had either of those types show up on the Diner fortunately, but if they did I would Ban them despite my No Ban general policy.  Reason is at this point I can be held legally liable for allowing the stuff to go across my website.

InternetCensorship061208Most of the time though, you don’t face such extreme problems, but you still do keep track of everyone posting, and sometimes issues come up regarding the general Honesty of the poster, which happened here recently in the case of our Favorite Energy Industry Shill, MKing.  His real qualifications have been a persistent question on the Diner by many because he is very nebulous about them, and so one of our Admins decided to at least determine if he was where he said he was at an Energy Conference, and it turned out he was.  He was in fact validated as at least being there by the research this Admin did, and he wasn’t particularly upset about this.

However, though he was not upset much by this, some other Diners were TERRIFICALLY upset, and in fact one of the Diners deleted his membership as a result of this. The Paranoia became rampant here that people were being SPYED on and that Real Identities would be Outted on the Diner for the Anons.  Nothing of the sort has ever happened here, and will not happen if I can prevent it, because this is against my own personal ethics and the way I post on the net!  I don’t want my IRL Identity bandied about, so I am not going to advocate any other Anon Poster gets outted either.

Same time though, the more you post, the longer you post and the more deeply involved you get in internet communications, the more likely it becomes that your IRL Identity becomes known.  In fact, probably half of the Diners don’t bother with Anons at all, or have very thinly disguised ones.  WHD for instance publishes himself as William Hunter Duncan on his own Blog Off the Grid in Minneapolis, and JDW uses his real name of John D. Wheeler all the time.  In both cases also their locations are known, so you KNOW these guys are honest on this level.

I have seen how the paranoia regarding Identity and Location will hamstring participation on the net before.  One of our most valued contributors, BC2K dropped off the net after I informed him that his location was transparent by IP Addy.  Besides that, he used his real name as part of his email addy, so that is a dead giveaway right there.  As someone who REALLY wants to remain unknown and private, this was too much to bear for BC2K, so he disappeared from the net far as I can tell.  This was a great loss to the Diner Community, but a loss to BC2K as well, because there are always new things to learn here on the net no matter how good a solo prepper you are.

It is OK and in fact worthwhile to have a certain amount of Paranoia with respect to Web participation.  At the same time though SQUARING the Paranoia, and allowing yourself to be completely cut off from the communication with others helps no one, including yourself.

There are many basic means of securing yourself from problems that you worry about, like being infected with Viruses and Malware.  If this is a real big concern of yours, use a separate dedicated Netbook for participation on Websites that you think might infect your computer.  If it does occur, you can wipe the Hard Drive clean and start over, without damaging any files on your main laptop.  Don’t use your real name as part of your email address, make a separate email addy on Google or Yahoo just for the purpose of communicating on websites you believe are dicey or compromised.  Use Free Wi-Fi at Coffee Shops and Libraries if you want to hide your main Internet Provider and location.

Awareness of the problem and taking your own preventative measures can allow the best of both worlds.  You have good security for yourself while at the same time you can participate and glean more knowledge and information from others who are concerned with the same problems you are.

In the end here, we all are known quantities to the folks in control so long as we use the Internet they also control.  You cannot use the Internet AT ALL, including email, if you allow your Paranoia to Square itself.  Use CFS in protecting your identity and your computer if this stuff concerns you.  You can remain pretty safe and still participate, long as you have awareness and knowledge of how the system works and what is visible and what is not.  YOU have control over that, not the Admins of websites like the Diner.

From the NSA and Google though, you got no means to remain Anon  unless you are simply first class Hacker.  You gotta live with that one if you want to participate on the net at all.

RE

Understanding Internet Napalm

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 21, 2013

Discuss this article at the Guerilla Internet Free Speech Table inside the Diner

For anyone who has never experienced what occurs when people with diametrically opposing viewpoints that are unresolvable by normal means start butting heads, an Internet Napalm Contest is a rather unpleasant experience. Not exactly pleasant for a Veteran of MANY Napalm Contests like myself either, but at least I know what is going down and mostly how to resolve it.   We recently had one here on the Diner, not the first by any means but one which involved some long term Diners, not drop in Trolls who cruise the net specifically to disrupt Blogs and Forums, either because they are paid Trolls who do this for Goobermint or Industry or because they simply derive pleasure from causing Havoc.

Nuclear explosionThis was not the case this time, the folks who went at each other’s THROATS all know each other pretty well, and all have been discussing & debating Collapse Topics mostly amiably for quite some time.  In the course of just one day of posting though, a Napalm Battle ensued which escalated to positively THERMONUCLEAR levels.  Collateral Damage all over the place, Civilians hit as hard as the Soldiers involved directly in this Battle.

What was the CAUSE of this?  Why did normally REASONABLE people start pitching AD HOM ATTACKS at each other, start using vitriolic language designed to enflame the emotions of even the most passive of readers and generally make everyone feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable with what was passing across the keyboards?

IMHO the main reasons are two-fold.  First in this case there was a Newz Story being discussed which itself enflames emotions, the recent Trial & Acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvor Martin case.  The story brings up the Racial Divide which still exists here in the FSoA in SPADES (sic, intended).  The Black Population of the FSoA has always been the main Underclass here since the Explicit Slavery Days, and Affirmative Action did not do very much to change that.  A few of the smartest and most able with decent family support got bootstrapped up during this period, but statistically speaking as a WHOLE lot more Black Boys ended up in Prison than at Harvard Law Skkule.  The population was Ghettoized through the Industrial Era, most took on jobs that no white person would and for this community, life AFTER explicit Slavery was no better under Economic Slavery. They get blamed for their own problems, failure of Black Men to take on Family Responsibility, Internal Violence in their communities, non-stop Violence and Drug Abuse.  They are delivered by the TRUCKLOAD to the Penitentiaries we run for those who fail to find a way to make an “Honest Living”.  We Pay Through the NOSE to keep these “Failures” of the Industrial Systeam alive inside the largest Penal Colony ever devised here in the FSoA, to the tune of around $40K a year for a typical Prisoner, by the time you account for the food and the Prison Guard salaries.

http://sadhillnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/trayvon-martin-photo-media-george-zimmerman-photo-bias-sad-hill-news2.jpgSecond reason, probably even more important is the “Little Things” that accumulate over time between people who feign a respect for one another, but get bugged all the time by off the cuff comments that signal underlying differences of opinion on fundamental matters.  If someone persistently demonstrates a Disrespect for say the Underclass people of the world and does not see or acknowledge why these folks have the problems they do, it grates on you.  Eventually, some story comes across the internet which Crystallizes this, and the recent story about the Martin-Zimmerman case was such a story.

It is not JUST the differences of opinion about the Underclass that grate though, it is also the difference in personal circumstance that infuse such a debate turned Napalm Contest.  One person is Well to Do with a Pile of Gold Coins in the Basement Safe; another barely subsists on a Social Security Check or Pension fund.  One Diner cruises about in a Brand Spanking new EV, while another Diner can’t work up the change necessary to get on the Bus or Subway. One Diner lives in a Gated Community with most of the world problems still held at arm’s length; while another Diner lives in a flea infested SRO surrounded by Drug Dealers and Prostitutes.  Why on EARTH would you ever expect these people to get along AT ALL, and stay “Polite” with each other most of the time?  That MOST of the time they can is pretty remarkable, but on ocassion the dichotomy here is too great and the CLAWS come out.  They GO AFTER each other.

By no means is this the first time a Napalm Contest has gone down on the Diner, and it is common enough on other fairly Open Boards and Blogs also.  Probably the most Intense Napalm EVER to go down in the Internet Collapse Blogosphere occurred on my old haunt of The Burning Platform, run by Jim Quinn who in the commentary is about as big a Napalm Artist as I am, and there were a few others there as well Throwing Smoke in the Good Old Days.  Here’s a post I wrote on TBP in the aftermath of one of those Napalm Contests, and you will quickly recognize the similarities:

From RE’s Daily Rant on TBP, March of 2o11

Recent “Quitting Events” related to the vitriolic and hateful Napalm that passes for debate here on TBP have caused me to put on hold yet another Daily Rant I was more than half finished with on the nature of money. The meta-topic of how the members here behave is more immediately important in terms of determining how successful we will be with carrying the message of how the Financial Collapse and the effects of Peak Oil will transform our culture, however you personally think that transition will turn out. I know that is Jim Quinn’s primary purpose here in administering this forum, he has told me so several times, and it is my primary purpose in writing as well. We don’t see all the outcomes precisely the same way, but we both do want to warn people that “Something Wicked this Way Comes”.

Predating the financial collapse of Bear Stearns, I participated on and administered message boards on other topics, and like all message boards they were subject to differing levels of Napalm. Napalm can be subtle or it can be blatant, but in all cases it is Ad Hom argument. It attacks the writer rather than addresses the ideas being presented. I will write examples of both here.

First, subtle Napalm:

“You clearly have not researched this topic well enough and do not understand the graphs I presented.”

This sentence isn’t addressing anything the person actually wrote, it’s merely attacking his intelligence. Its going to anger the person it is directed at, and he is likely to scale up the napalm himself in his next response.

Next, blatant Napalm:

“You are a fucking moron. Your wife is a goddamn slut who sucks my 11.5” Smokestack. You Eat Shit.”

This form of Napalm doesn’t just attack the person, it takes the debate completely off topic into sexual innuendo and scatology, two forms of imagery that evoke emotional responses in anybody who reads them. Distilled down, those 3 sentences represent 90% of everything Smokey ever wrote on TBP.

Now, like JimQ, I never censored any Napalm on my message boards. In order to SQUASH the Napalm artists who joined my boards, I would just out-napalm them. I would get positively mean and vicious to do so. Generally I don’t use sexual innuendo or scatology to do it, I either use Comedy to ridicule the opponent or I draw from the Chattaqua School of Fire and Brimstone preaching. After absorbing trash from LLPOH and Smokey for a few weeks a while back, I got really pissed off and LET IT GO.

Room gets suddenly still and when you’d almost bet You could hear yourself sweat – he walks in Eyes black as coal and when he lifts his face Every ear in the place is on him Startin’ soft and slow-ow, like a small earthquake And when he lets go-o, half the valley shakes

I Damned to Hell LLPOH in what is generally regarded as one of the most hateful posts ever made on these pages. At least that is how Stucky characterized it at the time. On my own boards, this was pretty effective, but they were much smaller boards than this one is and I never had anyone turn up on the boards so insistent on perpetuating Napalm contests as Smokey is/was.

For a while here, I engaged both Smokey and LLPOH in Napalm contests, but neither one was going to quit and it was making it very difficult for me to continue my primary goal, which is to inform and to analyze the issues at hand from my POV. When I reformatted to the Daily Rants, I decided as part of that to stop responding to any napalm in them, whether the Napalm came as the Subtle or the Blatant varieties. It hasn’t entirely stopped the Napalm in the Rants, but there is quite a bit less of it now than there was before.

In the recent Napalm Contest between Stuck and Smokey, the emotions ran so high as to instigate a “Quitting Event”. Quitting Events happen when people on the board become so disgusted by what is going on that they no longer want to participate on the board. Its not JUST the people involved in the Napalm Contest either, there is Collateral Damage done in terms of Lurker Readers who stop reading the board because of these contests. I had a few Quitting Events happen on my boards, but again not to the scale you see on a board this size.

Now, in the aftermath of this event, Stuck has returned to the board and Apologized to Smokey, which is a pretty impressive thing to do since the kind of Napalm Smokey was using to taunt Stuck was of the most visceral and personal kind. He sensed a weakness in Stuck because of aspects of his personal life he had written about here, and used them to make Stuck feel even worse than he otherwise does about the situation. In the world of Napalm, this is a “Low Blow”. Hitting below the belt. But of course a true Napalm Artist respects NO Rules at all, because there are NO RULES in a Knife Fight. I did find it interesting that Smokey himself quit in the aftermath of this, which shows that Smokey has a conscience, or at least an inability to face the consequences of his actions, which is that everyone on the board was pissed off at him for causing Stuck to quit.

There was also something of a change in Smokey recently, the fact he came into my Existential thread and debated it free of his usual napalm was rather odd. It did not fit in with the persona he was pursuing here at all. Unless someone admits to outside circumstances impacting on them, you cannot know for sure why their behaviors will change in writing on these pages. You can speculate on it, you can observe the effects, but you cannot really know the underlying cause. Stuck has been fairly open about the problems his son is facing, so we can understand his reactions and behaviors in light of that, but Smokey’s behaviors are more opaque.

As we move forward here from this, I am going to offer a few words of advice. First, I never believe in Censorship under any circumstances, so to Jim Quinn my advice is to Carry On as he has, letting the membership post as they will, whatever the outcome of that is. I am even sorry that Jim chose to delete both DP and Hugh Betchya. However, it is his board, so he can do that if he so chooses.

The REAL POWER though to control the Napalm Artists is not in the hands of the CHIEF, it is in the hands of the TRIBE. The way you control people as a group who will not maintain community standards is by SHUNNING them. Do not respond to Napalm Artists, pay no attention to them. In the aftermath of Smokey quitting, Colma Rising has attempted to “assume the mantle” of the board’s chief flamethrower. If you buy into that shit, he will continue onward. If you ignore it, he may continue onward if he is a persistent sort of fellow, but he won’t get any satisfaction from it. If/when Smokey returns and pursues this paradigm again, I suggest the same tactic. He is a bright enough guy, he doesn’t really need to write that sort of shit to make point. I certainly won’t respond to any Napalm they pitch, although if like Smokey did in the Existential thread he writes good stuff to topic, I’ll treat them like any other good debater and welcome the input. Smokey is a smart fellow clearly, but he took on a certain persona here which overall was not real productive. Why he did that is unclear, and probably will remain unclear unless he returns.

What ARE our Community Values? Is it really that important to us to value Napalm Artistry just because it can be creative and sometimes even funny? Or is the Value of this board to INFORM on the important topics of our time? I believe the latter is the important Value of this board, and if we expect it to be successful, being a good source of information and opinion on these topics, this is what we must strive for.

For each of the Writers here, whether you are a Contributor or just respond in the Comments, I have two suggestions. First is to watch your own writing carefully for Subtle Napalm. Its often an unconscious thing to make an Ad Hom attack that will cause someone else to escalate up in napalm. Try to respond only to the ideas, rather than the author who writes them. I get a lot of Napalm pitched my way simply because it comes off the keyboard of RE. Even when I write stuff most of you will agree with, I get responses like “Much as it PAINS me to do so, I have to agree with RE here.” That is a subtle form of Napalm of course. You take the opportunity to say that even though you think what I wrote is correct, you STILL think I am an asshole. See how easy it is to write Napalm?

The second suggestion is to SHUN the Napalm Artist. Don’t perpetuate the contests by responding with ever increasing levels of Napalm. Nobody “wins”, everybody LOSES. Even if you enjoy these exercises in creative scatology and sexual innuendo, it’s a fucking waste of time and makes the board unreadable for most people. It’s a major turn-off for the average reader. If you support this stuff, you are marginalizing the board as an effective communication medium.

As for me, here in the Daily Rants I will continue to observe and analyze the collapse, and respond to anyone who makes a good argument. I will also continue to Troll other threads, and I no doubt will use both logical argument and my gift for comedy to make fun of the IDEAS other people write, but I will try very hard not to attack ad hom. Be your OWN censor. As far as challenging me goes, I welcome all challengers who will write to topic. TAKE ME ON. It is what I live for as an Internet Debater of the topics of our time. I will respect you as long as you respect me.

LLPOH brings up a point here in the Self-Censorship debate, which is that in addition to censoring the type of prose you write, you should also self-censor on its length. He prevails upon me to make my posts SHORTER. Does he prevail on Jim to make his posts shorter? No he does not, because he mostly agrees with what Jim writes. Jim’s stuff is just as long as mine is, he just doesn’t write quite so often as I do at such length. Quality is not an issue here, merely length and frequency. Length in and of itelf is not a bad thing, its only bad if you pursue ad hom in the diatribe, which I do not do. When I write LONG, I write to topic. When I Napalm in response to napalm thrown my direction, its in the Comments, not in the OP. I do not see a reason to make my articles shorter, I am not attacking anyone by having diarheah of the keyboard. LOL. My means of delivering my message is to write at length and exhaustively. It is not Napalm to do that.

http://por-img.cimcontent.net/api/assets/bin-201001/5a2367c7d8b6e2e3d933fe0835982139.jpgPlease realize one very important TRUTH if you do take me on, which is that I will NEVER quit, and I will write long and in detail responding to what you write if I do not agree with it. I have a Fast Gun here under my fingertips on this Keyboard, I will use this gift, and I will spit the bullets out faster than you can, or anyone else. In fact I will write it faster than ALL the anybody elses will together. Live with it. NOBODY can keep up with the pace I write at, I think I have proved that one beyond a shadow of a doubt. I run the Marathon on the keyboard against a few sprinters, I’ll grind you to DUST over the whole course of the race. Unless you are the kind of Zealot I am and are as smart as I am, you will be crushed over time. Are you that far up the end of the Bell Curve of Smart People and Ideological Zealots? I have not yet run into someone who can compete on this playing field. LLPOH thinks he can, and I welcome his challenge. Fair and Square, my arguments of IDEAS against his, I am all for it. I will match my intellect up against his anytime, it’s a fun thing for me to do against another smart guy. Think of it like John McEnroe against Bjorn Borg at the US Open. Clearly,I am the Bad Boy Johnny Mac here of course. LOL. Regardless of being a bad boy though, I am a better Tennis Player than LLPOH is. He has more MONEY than I do (update 2013: well, back then he did. lol), but elsewise he has little to defend himself. He isn’t as smart as I am, and he cannot keyboard so fast as I can. He will eventually lose as result. (OK, I admit to doing some TAUNTING here. This still IS TBP after all. LOL)

LLPOH writes his “Short Stories” as means to pontificate on his perspective. All well and good there. I will challenge his Short Stories when I think they represent WRONG ideas, but that is not Napalm. I’m not attacking LLPOH, merely what he is trying to communicate as a philosophy with his short stories. I welcome him to challenge my ideas as well in any of my Daily Rants. This is not Napalm, as long as it is the IDEAS that are being attacked, not the WRITER of those ideas. Please Place Your Bets here on TBP, LLPOH vs RE, who do you think will be proved correct in the long term? Side with the Unrepentant Capitalist or the Repentant Tribalist, your choice. I KNOW my Sins, I admit them and hope for forgiveness in the Great Beyond. LLPOH does NOT Repent, this is his CHOICE, and if you side with him your choice as well. We ALL will have to pick our sides here in the maelstrom before us now, this is only the first of many choices you will have before you, but in that choice you reveal the core of what you believe in. Principles you cannot abandon without giving up how you define your understanding of the world.

Nobody DIES in these Gunfights in Cyberspace, so they will continue onward for so long as TBP lights up the Internet. Who “wins” here when we engage in good debate? EVERYBODY WINS. Good debate elucidates the underlying ideas and principles so everyone who reads grasps a better understanding of them. I learn things all the time from these debates, and my ideas evolve as a result of it. If you read for comprehension, your ideas will evolve as well. The TRUTH is that we must ALL evolve if we are to find a Better Tomorrow, although to be sure, its not going to come in our lifetimes.

See You on the Other Side.

RE

 

Here in this post, I am not going to make a Value Judgement on this, who I think was right or wrong in the Napalm Contest that went down this time on the Diner.  I personally was SURPRISED that some long term Diners lost control as badly as they did this time.  I was caught unprepared, despite my years of experience as a Board Moderator on AOL, where the shit went flying on a Daily Basis.  However, once it went down, I went into Overdrive on Board Moderation, with all the tricks available to me as ADMIN, POWER OF GOD on a Forum.  I had to stop this stuff, and stop it fast.  Not really ALL the tricks are available to me in reality, because I am COMMITTED to Non-Censorship and No Banning.  I have to find other means to defuse these things without resorting to that, and trust me, it is not EZ.  I want a platform where EVERYONE can speak their mind, without the fear of Banning.  I have been Banned MANY times, on MANY Blogs and Forums.  I am a Troll of the First Order, I can overwhelm a commentary with the volume I write anytime at all.  When you do finally get SHUT DOWN as a Troll, particularly on a board or forum you have spent a lot of time on, it is EXTREMELY frustrating.  When I got Shit-Canned from Peak Oil, I went through a real tough period where I only was able to keep going because I started the Reverse Engineering Yahoo Group, and got a few friends to follow me there. If it was not for my dear friend and fellow Admin on the Diner now Surly, there would BE NO DINER.  If it was not for Peter who I met briefly before Karl Denninger Shit Canned me off Ticker Forum, there would BE NO DINER. If it was not for Haniel who Rode to the Rescue with the Database Cavalry from California, THERE WOULD BE NO DINER.  This is why making FRIENDS is important, particularly when you write on unpopular topics or have an unpopular spin.  I don’t want the Commenters here to have to go through what I did, and I also know most if not all would not have the persistence and expertiese to keep going regardless of what happens on a given Blog or Forum.  It is VERY hard to shut me up on the Web, I know how the whole thing works too well and have been at the game too long, since the Jurassic Period on AOL.  The Diner is the EVOLUTION of all those years, all those boards, all those Napalm Contests.  I WILL NOT allow the Diner to be undermined in this way, but at the same time I will make it possible for any Diner to speak their mind unexpurgated without CENSORSHIP.  I am COMMITTED to this principle of Free Speech, and if this means occassionally the emotions run hot and people get mean to each other, so be it.

One final warning to the other Napalm Artists out there.  Do not take ME on here on the Diner.  Here I am ADMIN, POWER OF GOD ON A FORUM.  You CANNOT WIN.  I will make you REGRET THE DAY YOU WERE EVER BORN. In the words of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson:

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-i-hate-to-advocate-drugs-alcohol-violence-or-insanity-to-anyone-but-they-ve-always-worked-for-hunter-s-thompson-184486.jpg

 

If you can’t stand the HEAT, stay out of the Diner Kitchen.  You just never know when the Oven will EXPLODE.  I certainly got surprised by this one.  In the end though, the Diners recovered, there were no Quitting Events.  Diners are TOUGH.

RE

Yellow Pages and Doom – an Odd Combination?

Off the keyboard of Harry Lerwill

Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 11, 2013

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Peak oil and local search may seem a strange combination but it is one that is very much on my mind as an individual working in the Yellow Pages industry, in what may be the twilight of the industrial age.

Everyone knows what Yellow Pages are, that large book that is dropped on the doorstep once or more a year.  A lot of people do not realize that there are many Yellow Pages, the epoch of lumbering dinosaurs owned by the telephone company are well in the past.  The market now dominated by the leaner, more nimble and responsive independent publishers; competition bringing costs down and greater choices for everyone.

What many do not realize is how sustainable the Yellow Pages industry has become in the twenty first century. More trees were cut down to support the infrastructure needed to allow me to write this post than went into the seven billion pages of advertising we printed last year.  In fact, we print the Yellow Pages on paper that is made entirely from recycled materials and waste from the lumber industry.

In a sector that is moving from the relatively low energy modality of print, to one that requires the modern infrastructure of internet and mobile, how will businesses change if the energy available to society significantly changes?  How will buying patterns change when oil prices spike again?  What will $5.00 a gallon gas do to the way people shop?

Of course, it’s possible that humanity may find a solution to the increasing scarcity of oil.  It won’t be biofuels, tar sands, solar or wind power; in fact there is no fuel source we currently know of that can compete with oil and its products.  But who knows, humanity has overcome many challenges in the past and maybe we can keep going onward and upward forever.  I’m not betting on it, though, while the myth of infinite progress may be one of the most prevalent beliefs today, we should remember that the citizens of Rome never believed Rome would fall anytime before the second coming.

So what would local search look like after a century of technological progress?  Perhaps we’ll all have our own personal electronic assistant who knows our tastes and will select the vendors, products and services for us.  Perhaps she will also handle introductions and take care of the mundane details.

On the other hand, if society declines and the cost of energy increases to the point where people are choosing carefully what they use it for, systems will revert to lower energy models.  In such a scenario, the printed book could once again become a dominant player in the marketplace.  Local search will really become local if the cost to ship goods from across the continent becomes excessive. People will be buying local not out of loyalty to the community they live and work in, but out of practicality.

Which way will society go?  As much as I’d like to believe that it is up to us, we may well have passed the threshold beyond which all we can do is hope we have a relatively soft landing.  We’ve climbed a long way in a short number of centuries; I hope we have a long descent rather than a fast crash so that we have time to adjust to a world that would be familiar to our great, great grandparents.

Until then, I enjoy working in the Yellow Pages industry.  If a fast crash happens, I know how valuable the product will be to the community.  With no Google, Bing or NSA archives to go to to get your products shipped from China, the Yellow Pages will be an excellent source of where to go locally for the things you forgot to put into your preps.  I’m sure it won’t be the first time in the hundred years since the first book landed on a doorstep that it becomes a guide for finding the best places to loot.

 

My first short story, “Caravan of hopes” is available in this anthology edited By John Michael Greer.

[amazon asin=B00A323CPU&template=image&chan=default]

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