This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



February 2024

Due Process, Pshaw!

Another good article on this sort of thing from Glenn Greenwald. This time looking at this in the context of SOPA and PIPA and how even without them the government ALREADY claims and exercises powers to shut down websites based on an accusation alone, not only after a proper advisory trial where the site gets to defend itself… see Megaupload this week. Just like the government claimed it has the powers explictly granted by the NDAA no matter if the law passed or not. Greenwald’s main point…

Whatever else is true, those issues should be decided upon a full trial in a court of law, not by government decree. Especially when it comes to Draconian government punishments — destroying businesses, shutting down websites, imprisoning people for life, assassinating them — what distinguishes a tyrannical society from a free one is whether the government is first required to prove guilt in a fair, adversarial proceeding. This is a precept Americans were once taught about why their country was superior, was reflexively understood, and was enshrined as the core political principle: “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It’s simply not a principle that is believed in any longer, and therefore is not remotely observed.


As usual, read the whole thing.

Must Read: The Coming War on General Computation

Here is another “you really should read this” article. Well, strictly speaking, it is a transcript of a video. I saw links to the video soon after it was new, but I didn’t have time to watch the video (almost an hour) and it took me awhile to even have time to read the transcript… :-)

The Coming War on General Computation
(Presented at 28C3 by Cory Doctorow, Transcribed by Joshua Wise)

It’s not that regulators don’t understand information technology, because it should be possible to be a non-expert and still make a good law! M.P.s and Congressmen and so on are elected to represent districts and people, not disciplines and issues. We don’t have a Member of Parliament for biochemistry, and we don’t have a Senator from the great state of urban planning, and we don’t have an M.E.P. from child welfare. (But perhaps we should.) And yet those people who are experts in policy and politics, not technical disciplines, nevertheless, often do manage to pass good rules that make sense, and that’s because government relies on heuristics – rules of thumbs about how to balance expert input from different sides of an issue.

But information technology confounds these heuristics – it kicks the crap out of them – in one important way, and this is it. One important test of whether or not a regulation is fit for a purpose is first, of course, whether it will work, but second of all, whether or not in the course of doing its work, it will have lots of effects on everything else. If I wanted Congress to write, or Parliament to write, or the E.U. to regulate a wheel, it’s unlikely I’d succeed. If I turned up and said “well, everyone knows that wheels are good and right, but have you noticed that every single bank robber has four wheels on his car when he drives away from the bank robbery? Can’t we do something about this?”, the answer would of course be “no”. Because we don’t know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications but useless to bad guys. And we can all see that the general benefits of wheels are so profound that we’d be foolish to risk them in a foolish errand to stop bank robberies by changing wheels. Even if there were an /epidemic/ of bank robberies, even if society were on the verge of collapse thanks to bank robberies, no-one would think that wheels were the right place to start solving our problems.

Or, for those that prefer, the original video is below.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: A Perfect Demographic

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner…

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Breaking Dawn / News Alerts / Supercommittee
  • Gingrich / Republicans
  • iTunes Match
  • SOPA

Just click to listen now:

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Recorded 20 Nov 2011″]


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