[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.

Tuesday, 2011-08-23

On the value of pseudonyms

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 14:55
Google+ protest image

In case you weren’t already tired of hearing about this (heh… heheh), here is an opinion from a scientist blogger (or perhaps a blogging scientist) on the value of pseudonyms.

Our new Scienceblogs overlords sure have great timing with their new pseudonymous blogging rules. For those who haven’t run across that yet, National Geographic has decided to eliminate pseudonyms and force everyone with a blog remaining here (which is already dwindling) to blog under their real names. Meanwhile, out here in the real world, there’s a new unfortunate case study (short version: “EpiGate”) showing how blogging under one’s real name can lead to serious threats and potential loss of employment, among other things.

(from On the value of pseudonyms, Scienceblogs)

Mothers (who may or may not also be scientists) also have an opinion on the subject.

Those who have the knee-jerk response of “Well, anyone who doesn’t want to use their real name has got something to hide or is just out to cause trouble” are, at best, cosmically misinformed. The notion that if “real names” (a term which, by the way, is nearly impossible to define – go ahead, give it a try) are good enough for the wealthy geeks at Google it should be good enough for anyone just reeks of massive privilege. (Frankly, the way Google’s been implementing their ‘policy’ also reeks of colonialism – if you’ve got a nice, comfortable looking ‘wasponym‘ as your name at G+, you’re probably fine, it seems, at least based on what people have been documenting about their clownish banning and reinstatement behavior so far.) I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing about identity and privacy stuff for more than a decade, and the more I learn, the more I come to agree with jwz, who said:

the other night I had dinner with a friend which turned into an hour long argument over it, because he thought that forcing everyone to use their real names was just fine. This is someone I’ve known for decades, so to say that I was shocked and horrified by his attitude is an understatement. It was as if my friend had suddenly started beginning sentences with, “I’m not a racist, but…”

(from Quick Thoughts on Parents and Pseudonymity, CurrentMom)

Meanwhile, Information Week gives us 5 reasons Google+’s name policy fails, TechEye offers concrete suggestions on How to stop Facebook and Google trampling on your privacy rights, and over on ZDNet, Violet Blue (who has been banned and reinstated by Google+ for using her “real” name at least twice now) declares, “Google Plus: too much unnecessary drama“.

Monday, 2011-08-22

No nyms equals evil

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 00:31

Google has been, in many ways, an admirable organization that has done a lot of good but to call its real names policy shortsighted would be kind. By demanding “real” names they can’t reliably determine what are real, they’ve inconvenienced a lot of people and excluded all of those who, for example, live under politically repressive regimes or who might for social reasons wish to stay anonymous.

Nyms matter enormously and an online world without nyms, where everyone can be easily tracked, completely measured, tidily pigeonholed, and endlessly manipulated, will become much less free and much less valuable.

(from No nyms equals evil, Computerworld)

Monday, 2011-08-15

Google+ protest image

Filed under: Art,Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 12:47
Google+ protest image

This is a quick and dirty attempt at an avatar to use in protest of the Google+ “government names only” policy. The image to the right links to the full-size image. The image below is the avatar-sized image. I wanted to put the word “PRIVACY” in there somewhere, but it’d be too small to read in the avatar version. Feel free to share, critique, whatever.

Google+ protest image

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.

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