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Archive for the ‘private press’ Category

So Boingboing, among several others, tells me that the Pentagon wants to take their ball back:

In a briefing at the Defense Department, Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell ordered Wikileaks to remove classified documents and return them to the U.S. government.

For reals?  I might be wrong here*, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how the internet works.  See, e.g., the Tom Cruise scientology video saga for just one example of what happens when powerful people with expensive lawyers decide to attack random people on the internet.  And if you think the Department of Defense is more web-savvy than the Church of Scientology, I suppose you’re entitled to that opinion… but short of nuking Iceland, what are they going to do?

I pose that question in all seriousness.

This isn’t about being “nice” or some kind of contest between DoD and Wikileaks about the meaning of “the right thing” in this context.  It’s almost universally accepted that the U.S. government is spending a ton of money  to murder innocent people in Afghanistan for no reason that can be articulated.   Wikileaks, majorities of the American public, and most of the rest of the world clearly wants it to stop.  To the extent that words like “good” or “right” have meaning here, any action that moves U.S. policy towards an end of the occupation is unquestionably “the right thing,” and so far Wikileaks has done more towards that end in just a few short weeks than the US military apparatus has been able to accomplish in nearly ten years.  DoD has significantly less credibility than Wikileaks does at this point- agents of the US government are in no position to be making demands.

The ultimatum the DoD has issued here, “Do the right thing and return our files…[implied OR ELSE!]” is essentially nonsense.  Even if Wikileaks wanted to comply (they don’t) or were going to try to comply (they won’t), what does it even mean to “return” a digital file?  I’m put in mind of those people who send emails via Outlook and then try to “recall” them… by sending a second email.  Exchange server might work like that, but *email* doesn’t.  And pretending that it does just makes the pretender look silly.  Or stupid.  Once something is on the web, you can’t take it back.

Over the last five years or so, we’ve witnessed the birth of that awareness in the collective consciousness of our more intelligent political leaders.  As applied to politicians, the long memory of the net is a positive- any tools that help the electorate to screen out people who are crazy or habitual liars are a good thing.  I guess this sample of DoD’s ideas about their power over the net is an indicator that the bureaucracies haven’t quite figured it out yet.

* I’m not wrong.

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You might think that the people who have been running the US operation in Afghanistan for the last few years would show a bit more maturity than a bunch of fourteen-year-old valley girls.

You’d be wrong.

On Friday, however, officials close to McChrystal began trying to salvage his reputation by asserting that the author, Michael Hastings, quoted the general and his staff in conversations that he was allowed to witness but not report.

“You said you wouldn’t tell anyone!  You pinky-swore!  I thought we were friends!  I’m never going out to the movies with you ever again!”

Oh, and this:

A U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, Air Force Lt. Col. Edward T. Sholtis, acknowledged that Hastings, like other reporters who have interviewed McChrystal over the past year, was not required to sign written ground rules. “We typically manage ground rules on a verbal basis,” Sholtis said. “We trust in the professionalism of the people we’re working with.”

Ground rules?!  What the fuck are you talking about “ground rules?”  You assholes are using my tax money to murder innocent people in a country halfway around the world for no goddamn reason at all, and you’re openly slagging your boss in front of a MAGAZINE REPORTER for christsakes, and the reporter went and REPORTED your borderline-treasonous insubordination, and now you have the fucking gall to whine about “ground rules?”

Here’s a ground rule for you, you worthless bag of guts: be happy you haven’t yet been charged with committing war crimes, and shut the HELL up before someone corrects the oversight.

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I guess that depends whether you are (a) someone who enjoys music and art and culture, or (b) a parasite

Peer-to-peer file-sharing on the Internet has certainly weakened copyright, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing unless one equates “stronger copyright” with “better copyright.” According to the US Constitution, copyright is about promoting “the Progress of Science and useful Arts”; it’s not about enriching authors […]

[T]he most pertinent question to ask is […] Has file-sharing reduced creators’ incentives?

My knee-jerk answer is– of course not!  More people are creating and publishing creative works today than at any other point in history.  But I didn’t have any data to back that up, and knee-jerk reactions only work as a basis for policy when Republicans are in power, so anyone who hopes for meaningful change in the US copyright framework is going to need more ammunition.  Fortunately, someone has actually done a bit of research now, and you can read more about it here.

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The key is if it’s in warrantee. And from what I can tell, mine’s not. So it would seem I’m hosed.

via On-Going Kindle Post-Mortem | Talking Points Memo.
So I’m vaguely interested in the outcome, if only from an IP-licensing perspective.  I wonder how much money Josh has already spent on Kindle content… and I wonder how much of it he’s ripped to another format, or if he’s stuck with the choice between (a) shelling out for another crapware locked platform so he can access the content he’s already bought or (b) letting it go, and then having to pay again for the same content if he wants to access it in a different format.

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in June, Shirky is publishing Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, which mines adjacent territory. He argues that the time Americans once spent watching television has been redirected toward activities that are less about consuming and more about engaging—from Flickr and Facebook to powerful forms of online political action.

via Cognitive Surplus: The Great Spare-Time Revolution | Magazine.

Well thank Christ for that- it’s the best news I’ve read in weeks.  Maybe there is some hope that Citizens United won’t signal the end of this grand experiment in democracy.

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from the Register-Guard:

The order issued Monday afternoon came after The Register-Guard and the Eugene Weekly separately asked the District Attorney’s Office to overturn a city decision that asserted state laws pertaining to personnel records required the police reports to remain secret until the city completes a misconduct investigation into officer Judd Warden’s actions. […]

Two weeks ago, [Eugene Police Chief] Kerns held a news conference and wrote a guest opinion piece in The Register-­Guard arguing that he could not share even basic details about the case with the media or the public because the misconduct investigation was under way. City attorneys advised him that releasing any information under those circumstances would violate state personnel records law and the city’s contract with the police officers’ union…

Um, yeah. Because, obviously, what matters most is protecting this taser-happy cop’s contract. I’m sure that keeping the records secret had nothing to do with trying to avoid a lawsuit. Nothing at all.

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The kids at Digg have noticed that someone posted a huge collection of Scientology documents on the web.  And from digg, someone posted a torrent of the file to PirateBay.  As I suggested last week, this is the obvious and natural consequence of drawing attention to that silly Tom Cruise video- people will yank the CoS chain, because now they know that it is guaranteed to get a reaction.

And the more that Scientology gets worked up about this, the more fun the internets will get out of dragging the cult’s most embarrasing secrets into the public eye.

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