Airlines you should boycott, come see me speak!

These airlines secretly supplied passenger information to government contractors, which is of questionable legality:

*American Airlines

For more info, see the EFF’s blog:

Don’t fly on these airlines, and start getting angry about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) controversial CAPPS II air passenger-profiling system.

The issue came up because I’m speaking at this conference at UPenn on Friday, June 18th, and they’re going to fly me back East from my internship at the EFF this summer. The conference is called Knowledge Held Hostage, and you should seriously come! Among others, Siva Vaidyanathan of New York University will be speaking there.

The organizer of the conference said, “Just a reminder that any of the Swarthmore people who worked with you on Diebold or who have a particular interest in the scholarly fair use issue are welcome to register and come to the conference. That includes friends and professors.” He also said that if you’d be coming from far away and you need some travel/hotel assistance, they might be able to help you out a little. Budgets are tight though, as always.

Translate this Russian?

Hm… this site is linking to

Putting it into Babelfish causes an error, so I can’t tell what the article is about.  At least with languages that use Roman characters I can make some guesses as to what they’re saying.  This Cyrillic alphabet is a pain in the butt.  Can somebody who reads Russian check the page out and at least tell me what the gist of the article is and what kind of a site it’s on?  Thanks a gazillion!

P.S. This Livejournal community also mentions us:

That works in Babelfish and I kind of get what’s going on.  The poster makes an interesting point at the end, according to Babelfish: “American students are concerned, first of all, by access to the music and the films. In Russia The situation Is another: as it is assumed to the most reading people, on the agenda – the protection of right to reading. However it seems to us there is to what to learn in the Americans – both in the plan of line of reasoning and in the plan of organization.”  The right to read!  Richard Stallman talks about that!  I’m not sure exactly what they mean by that though, it’s probably not what RMS means… do they mean they fear government censorship, and that’s why filesharing is important for them?  Are they worried because they can’t buy books, so they’re anxious to find free learning/reading material online?

I’d like to contribute to the discussion, but of course I can’t.  Can somebody who understands the scdc and go in there and make sure they understand who we are?  One thing I would like to emphasize is that it really is an international student movement, and once we have some good, high-quality articles on the site in English, we will start up a wiki for each language, so that non-English-speakers can join in and help contribute.

Update:  I posted about the results of my sleuthing in the brand spanking new freeculture community! 

Pictures from Iraq

Wow… just, wow.  This came from the Memory Hole blog.

Graphic, Unauthorized Photos from Iraq:

I think that it’s really important that when we go to war, we understand fully what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.  I think it’s criminal to restrict the press in any way in wartime, and that we should have blogger/reporters who are independent of big media sources.  Evil doesn’t go away just because you don’t see it.  When people die and homes are destroyed, it’s vital that the public see the human cost.  If people can face the full price of war and still say that war is justified, good for them.  But they should consider that Osama Bin Laden thinks he’s fighting a just war too.

I fear people who are so certain they are right that they are willing to pass such final and irreversible judgement on other human beings.  Yes, I’m against the death penalty.  Non-violent, reversible methods are necessary for subduing those who would kill us, and should be a primary goal of government spending.  A Department of Peace as suggested by Kucinich would be an excellent idea.  Non-violent is not the same as non-lethal.  I’m wary of the military developing non-lethal weapons, because I’m concerned that these would be seen as acceptable to use on non-violent protesters, like the firehoses of another era.  Gandhi was working on putting together a non-violent defense force for India before he was assassinated; he didn’t want India to have a conventional military.  Now India has nukes.  I wish he hadn’t been prematurely cut off; such an experiment could have provided an example for other countries and an inspiration to us all.

Is France a student activist’s hell?

I just had the most amazing discussion with a French law student on the IRC channel (#freeculture on  From what he’s telling me, I’m really glad I’m not trying to be an activist in France, because it seems that this is impossible there!  Is what he’s saying true?  Is he overstating the case at all?  It’s really scary!

My IRC conversation with Jean-Baptiste Soufron


Happy News!  We got our block on Mertz 2nd South for next year, my blockmates are Arthur Chu, Andrew Lacey, and Brian Rose.  Andrew Abdalian will probably attempt to choose into our hall as well in the lottery, so don’t you dare pick into our hall until Andrew has successfully done so! 😉


Seasteading, surviving end of world, the Singularity

Here’s a quick selection of links from tonight’s websurfing, in vaguely chronological order:

* –  This was the first step on my journey, which I reached from the Wikipedia article on the Free State Project.  It’s the official website for a project to create floating habitats on the world’s oceans, where libertarians and others hope to create tiny, ad-hoc autonomous states.  The sheer quantity of material on the site demonstrates that this is not just a pie in the sky project.  These people have put a lot of time and research into their idea, and the writings on the website are extensive and interesting, with enough pictures to keep one from getting bored 🙂  I like the fact that their plan calls for an incremental, bottom-up approach… very free culture-y!  This just might be cooler than the Free State Project…

*seasteading – This is the livejournal for  It is very good that these people are technologically advanced enough to understand LiveJournal 😉

*The Atlantis Project – This abandoned project to build a floating city named Oceania only has pretty pictures to show you, but they are so heartbreakingly pretty!  What a shame it’s dead… unfortunately, it seems many grandiose Seasteading-style projects never make it past the pretty pictures stage.  This is what sets apart, I think it’s actually going to survive and succeed.

*The Lifeboat Foundation – After abandoning the Atlantis Project, Eric Klien started the Lifeboat Foundation, which has the goal of ensuring the survival of humanity in the face of a cataclysmic global catastrophe.  The anticipated mechanisms of our demise include the “grey goo” scenario where nanotechnology gets out of control and eats the world, antimatter bombs, and the accidental creation of a black hole on Earth.  The Lifeboat Foundation is focused on building space arks.  This seems less likely to succeed in the near future than seasteading.

*The Singularity – This simultaneously awesomely hope-inspiring and terrifyingly disturbing concept essentially says that technology is building upon itself and accelerating development in an exponential fashion, and that at some point in the future, probably within the next 30-150 years, it will suddenly explode at practically infinite speeds.  That explosion of technological advancement and creativity is called The Singularity, because much like the event horizon of the black hole, we can’t see what lies beyond it. 

This “future blindness” is frightening, and the fact is that our best science fiction writers and thinkers don’t really have a clue what happens after that.  The most likely trigger event seems to be the development of Artificial Intelligence, because once an AI can create another AI, they should be able to create increasingly smart versions of themselves, adding another exponential factor to the knowledge explosion.

There are much more friendly interpretations of this concept however, such as the charming Neo-human guy scene in Waking Life.

*Singularity Watch – This site seems quite bullish about the positive possibilities contained in the Singularity and the society that immediately proceeds the Singularity.  They even have this very condescending yet entertaining set of stories for kids about teenage life right before the Singularity hits, Future Heroes 2035. 

And that’s all for tonight, thank goodness…