[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2016-09-29

Arguments against drug testing of welfare recipients

Filed under: Philosophy,Privacy,Society — bblackmoor @ 10:58

I am putting this here so I can find it later (and not have to write it from scratch every time).

Moral argument: NO ONE should have their privacy invaded to earn an honest living, much less to receive assistance when they are struggling. The only time it’s even remotely defensible is when someone is operating heavy machinery or otherwise directly responsible for the safety of others, and at those times the test should be for the person’s ability to operate that machinery — and that should include the effects of ALL drugs and illnesses which impair motor function. Until that happens, “drug testing” is no more than an excuse to exert power over others just for the sake of doing it.

Practical argument: Several states have enacted laws requiring drug testing of those receiving public assistance. In those states, the evidence is overwhelming: more money is spent on drug testing than is saved by withholding support from people who test positive for the substances being tested. The only purpose for drug testing recipients of public assistance is to pay extra in order to treat them like shit.

Pragmatic argument: The surpassing historical ignorance of those who would deprive the poor of food never ceases to amaze me. Even if there were no other arguments for keeping the poorest among us fed — if chubby bourgeoisie like me were all heartless, rapacious narcissists — the simple fact is that when the poor are kept hungry, we chubby bourgeoisie tend to find our heads in baskets. I like my head where it is, thank you very much.

Tuesday, 2013-08-20

Groklaw takes its ball and goes home

Filed under: Civil Rights,Privacy,The Internet,Travel — bblackmoor @ 14:15
book in chains

Legal Site Groklaw Shuts Down Rather Than Face NSA

I stopped flying years ago, because it offends me to be scanned, groped, and treated like a criminal in order exercise my fundamental human right of travel. Now I am wondering how long it will be before I stop using email and the web. Perhaps I should have stopped already.

How did we become a cyberpunk dystopia without most of us noticing?

Monday, 2011-10-03

When the liberty bubble bursts

Filed under: Civil Rights,History,Privacy — bblackmoor @ 19:11
What the American people need

On the one hand, I don’t think anyone who is wealthier than 99% of the country should be making decisions for the other 99% of us. On the other hand, if we put a salary/net worth cap on who could run for public office, I think the end result is that our ostensibly-elected rulers would be even more corrupt and incompetent than they are now. I honestly have no idea what to do to fix this great nation.

In a nation of laws, where fundamental principles of fairness and equality under the law are sacrosanct, where everyone has the same access to the courts and has to follow the same laws, libertarianism is the best and most ethical basis for a government that provides the best outcome to the most people, and imposes the fewest obstacles for people to better themselves and to help those who are worse off than themselves.

The problem is, we do not live in a nation like that. Our society has never been perfect, but at its core, it used to be based on principles of fairness, and hard work, and individual rights. The day to day operation of our society often conflicted with those principles, but gradually, those flaws would be brought to light, old ways would be challenged, and things would get better. The society we were was slowly turning into the society we aspired to be. Liberty, and honor, and justice were leading us from darkness toward the light. Slowly, to be sure, but we were on the right path.

I am not sure exactly when this ceased to be the case, but I think this is no longer true. The foundation on which our society is built is corroded and crumbling. Our legislatures pass laws to which they make themselves exempt. Media outlets give us the news they want us to see, and truth is irrelevant. We allow ourselves to be distracted by trivia, or blinded by superstition, while we revel in our ignorance. We are engaged in an endless and expensive war against everything. Corporations reap tremendous financial rewards while stripping both their employees and their customers of their basic human and civil rights — right to privacy, right to a jury trial, right to a personal life, right to earn an honest living, etc. — and it’s perfectly “legal”. We imprison more of our population than any country on Earth, for nonviolent offenses, and we use them as slave labor for corporations.

(You might think some of the previous paragraph is hyperbole. I am sometimes too fond of hyperbole. But in this case, it isn’t. If anything, it’s an understatement.)

We are fucked. The political dog and pony show is out of control, our economy is in the hands of people who really don’t care what happens to 99% of us as long as they benefit, and it isn’t getting better. It’s bread and circuses, and we are running out of bread.

I have yet to hear a single person suggest anything that I think would reverse this trend. Not the Tea Party. Not the Obama followers. Not the blue-collar Wal-Mart patrons, who do most of the real labor in this country and receive nothing but scorn for it. Not the socialist hippie-artists, or the pseudo-intellectuals who’ve never done a useful day of real work in their lives. Certainly not the politicians, regardless of their political affiliation.

Not even the libertarians.

I look into the future, and I see darkness.

There are a lot of reasons I am glad that I don’t have children. This is one of them.

Tuesday, 2011-09-06

Why the Google Profiles (or any) “Real Name” Policy is Important to Me

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 16:15
Google+ protest image

A brave soul by the name of Todd Vierling has posted a compelling opinion piece explaining why, in his words,

… those of you who think that using real names will make people more open and social are horrifyingly deluded. Your idealistic vision of “real” interaction through real names isn’t just nonsense; it’s making online socialization more dangerous for everyone by putting them at risk of real-world prejudicial action.

(from Why the Google Profiles (or any) “Real Name” Policy is Important to Me , duh.org)

It’s worth reading. I suggest that you do.

Friday, 2011-02-18

Knives are right out

Filed under: Civil Rights,Privacy,Travel — bblackmoor @ 13:31

Something I overheard in a chat room recently:

Harrigan: Hmmm… I need to find out how to go through airport security these days. The last time I flew, I got stopped and was asked what was in the small pouch on my belt. The security guard waved me on when I said it was a Swiss army knife and told me he just wanted to make sure it wasn’t Mace. I think things have changed since then.
Berrianna: Yeah, knives are right out.
Berrianna: As are liquids and gels over five ounces, firearms, jackhammers, hacksaws, dental implants, transplanted kidneys, a sense of personal privacy, any bag over 10 pounds, jackets, underwear with natural fibers, broken glass, scarves, dental floss, dignity, the first and fourth Amendments, and dogs over fifteen pounds.

Heh. Heh heh.

Tuesday, 2011-02-01

Privacy is security: secrecy is not

Filed under: Privacy,Security — bblackmoor @ 12:24

This article is worth reading. Most people have no clue about what “security” really means, including most of the people vilifying — or praising — WikiLeaks.

As becomes increasingly obvious with the passage of time, and with the advancement of digital communication (and thus copying) technologies, privacy is security, and secrecy is not.

[…]

Perhaps the most amazing thing about all this noise over the matter is that WikiLeaks is such a vulnerable, unreliable avenue for distributing such leaks. The US government’s campaign targeting WikiLeaks in an attempt to shut it down does not only betray the culture of secrecy in government to the public at large, undermining any claims to value transparency; it also showcases the simple fact that government officials just do not get it. WikiLeaks is not the cause of the “problem” for secretive government officials. It is merely a superficial indicator of much deeper problems — of a deeply flawed security model.

(from The difference between secrecy and privacy as security concepts, TechRepublic)

Monday, 2010-11-08

I am taking the train

Filed under: Privacy,Technology,Travel — bblackmoor @ 00:05

Yesterday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rolled out new nationwide rules for traveler pat-downs. Want to keep your genitalia private by avoiding the new backscatter security scanners? You can request a pat-down instead, but the TSA is intent on making sure you won’t enjoy it. The new rules require agents to pay renewed attention to your crotch, and their hands won’t stop until they meet testicular resistance. (No word on quite how far they’ll go should you lack said testicles.)

[…]

But the new rules may not really be about “thoroughness” anyway, because “the obvious goal of the TSA is to make the pat-down embarrassing enough for the average passenger that the vast majority of people will choose high-tech humiliation over the low-tech ball check.”

(from Assume the position: TSA begins new nut-busting pat-downs, ArsTechnica)

This means that if you wish to take a commercial flight, you must submit to a search which is more invasive than that which is performed on a suspected murderer at the time of arrest. If you think I am exaggerating, call your local police and ask them.

Saturday, 2010-09-11

Reflections on September 11, 2001

Filed under: Civil Rights,History,Privacy,Travel — bblackmoor @ 12:27

I recall where I was when the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed. Someone in a cubicle next to mine received an email that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Buildings. I thought it was yet another ridiculous email chain-letter forwarded by the same sort of gullible people who pass on dire warnings of syringes in telephone booths and rat urine on soda cans, and I told them so with a sneer (I am sometimes not as kind as I would like to be: I was even less so back then).

But more and more people heard this news, and then someone said that it was on the television in the break room. Still skeptical, I went and watched with everyone else.

I was flabbergasted when it was on the news in the break room, live — and then a second plane slammed into the other World Trade Center building, right in front of me. Even then, I thought it had to be a hoax or publicity stunt of some kind. I mean, how could two planes possibly hit skyscrapers in the same city on the same day? It’s inconceivable.

But it was true, of course, as we all learned over the following days and weeks.

The worst was yet to come, of course: the massive, brutal insult to American travelers known as the TSA, and the various violations of our basic human rights in the name of keeping us “safe”. Buildings can be rebuilt, and while the death toll from the airplane crashes was tragic, that many people die on our highways every month. The plane crashes may have been the work of psychotic foreigners, but the real damage to the USA happened afterward, and was perpetrated by Americans. I will probably not live long enough to see that damage undone.

Thursday, 2010-09-09

European Parliament passes anti-ACTA declaration

Filed under: Civil Rights,Intellectual Property,Privacy — bblackmoor @ 18:57

Europe has its issues. Thankfully, bending their citizens over for the benefit of the media robber barons and the Digital Rights Mafia does not appear to be one of them.

Today 377 members of the European Parliament adopted a written declaration on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in which they demand greater transparency, assert that ISPs should not up end being liable for data sent through their networks, and say that ACTA “should not force limitations upon judicial due process or weaken fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy.”

[…]

“Written Declaration 12 is a strong political signal sent by the EP to the Commission that ACTA is not tolerable as a way of bypassing democratic processes. Legislation related to Internet, freedom of speech and privacy cannot be negotiated in secrecy under the direct influence of entertainment industry lobbies,” said spokesperson Jérémie Zimmermann. “Full rejection of ACTA is the only option.”

(from Ars Technica, European Parliament passes anti-ACTA declaration)

Thursday, 2010-03-11

A Closer Look at the PCI Compliance and Encryption Requirements of Nevada’s Security of Personal Information Law

Filed under: Privacy,Security — bblackmoor @ 17:52

In this blog post on infolawgroup.com, David Navetta takes a closer look at the PCI and encryption requirements of Nevada’s Security of Personal Information law, including the interplay between the PCI and encryption requirements, the scope of the obligations, potential problems/ambiguities in the law, and the applicability of a “safe harbor” for security breaches.

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