Here Thar Be Monsters!

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17.8.13

Playing Houdini At Home

lots of kissing and hugging
Part of the reason I never worry too much about so-called "internet kill switches" and "government censorship of the net" is that hackers are a wily lot.

For one thing, there is no single switch that turns off the net.  It is a fabulously complex distributed network that would require the entire global power grid to fail in order to "turn it off".  There are, however, a limited number of backbones into and out of any given country.  They include fiber, cable and satellite T-3 pipes that enter, hit distributors, and then the data packets get distributed to wherever it is they are going.  It is quite possible for governments to sit on and control those ports.  They can filter and futz with the data streams all day long, making sure you only get what they want you to get, or at the very least, make detailed notes on what you are receiving.

Governments assume you are stupid because they do everything in their power to keep you that way.  That's why we here on the Far Side say that the 21st century form of government is "on, over and inside the people," rather than "of, by and for."  It's just a bit of mucking around with prepositions, really.

One other point before continuing.  In the Far Side lexicon, the words "government" and "corporation" are synonyms.  Thus, "law" and "policy" are equivalent, as well.  To carry this a bit further, "taxpayer" and "employee" are also the same.  Applying fractal geometry, corporations are but smaller, identical forms of the larger government form, from the micro to the macro scale.

Anyway, a great number of governments/corporations filter what their subjects/employees can see.  Only approved information from approved sources are allowed through the pipes, whether you are at your desk or at home.  Oh sure, the pipes are usually controlled by companies, but since companies must file with government for permission/license to operate and gain 'legal' status, they are nothing more than branches of government.

Here's were hackers step in.  Hackers are the 21st century equivalent of revolutionary freedom fighters.  To the government/corporate Boards of Directors (BoD), these people are 'terrorists' because they bypass and undermine the imposed system of controls.  Hackers view information as neither good nor bad, simply bits and bytes to be accessed or not.  Obviously, the more a gov/corp doesn't want you to see something, the more interesting it is, which can be both a danger and a weapon to the BoD.

Information can be dangerous to the BoD because it turns off the mental control mechanisms that they spend decades installing through 'schools'.  However, it can also be a weapon because the BoD can declare something off-limits, thus enticing employees to take a look using the Forbidden Fruit Theory of behavior modification.  It's a two-edged sword that requires a great amount of discernment on the part of renegade employees.

So all of this ranting brings us at long last to the point.  Please keep the cheering to a minimum.

Pirate Bay has released their version of the Firefox browser.  Called the PirateBrowser, it uses the Tor system to circumvent blocks and censorship.  Basically, Pirate Bay assembled some off-the-shelf add-ons with the Firefox browser to create a pret-a-porter app that runs circles around censors.

The Onion Router (TOR) system was developed by the US Navy to trade information secretly.  Think of it as a network of gopher tunnels all through the internet by which folks can trade info packets without being visible to above-ground viewers.  The technology got out into the wild sometime back and its used by gov/corps and us real people all the time now.

Harry Houdini had a remarkable trick.  He would have a literal, physical brick wall built on stage.  Of course, a heavy floor cover was needed so as not to damage the stage floor.  Houdini would raise a small curtain and *POOF*, he'd appear to pass through solid matter.  What the audience didn't see was the trap door opening under the heavy floor covering, allowing just enough slack for a limber fellow to weasel under the wall.  That's TOR.

So this is all fun and cool, but what does it have to do with this article?  Glad you asked.

The genie is out of the bottle.  The internet has matured far beyond anything the gov/corps could have imagined or wanted.  Whatever obstacles they throw up, someone finds a hole.  If they kill the Big Pipes, folks set up Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks.  Thousands of people, like us Far Siders, have built massive libraries of information as a bulwark against it disappearing.  And the old "conspiracy theorist" label has worn thin, now that folks have seen so many of them proven correct.

This situation has led meatpuppets like John Kerry (SecState USCorp) to remark, "[T]this little thing called the Internet ... makes it much harder to govern."  First off, notice the use of the pejorative 'little thing,' as if his shiny white ass is far superior to the puny hordes out here in reality.  Second, you should have automatically replaced in your mind the term 'govern' with 'command and control'.

At any rate, we Far Siders are busy assessing the new PirateFox, since porn sites and words like Essex and sextant and sexagenarian and breast self-exam are banned in Indonesia because the members of Parliament spend all their time surfing screw films instead of doing their jobs.  I mean, good Lord!  If the BoD can't control themselves, we slimy, morally inferior little employees sure can't.  (Note that we are allowed, at any age, to surf all the violence, horror and beheadings we want - just no loving and kissing!)

So there you have it - a new subversive toy to play with in your spare time because we here on the Far Side are always at the forefront of employee rights!

Just a side note: we recently started uploading Radio Far Side to YouTube, since they gave us permission to offer things longer than 10 minutes.  As a result, EMI started banning RFS "in certain countries" because we use one minute of Wall of Voodoo's four-minute long song "Mexican Radio" in the opening titles.  As a consequence, the two (so far) videos that have met this resistance are the two most popular.  I guess banning them makes people all the more curious.  Hahahahahaha!  (that's a maniacal laugh kind of like Dr. Frankenstein when the Creature's hand starts twitching)

You may recall that EMI were the asinine bastards who tried to make it illegal to listen to your radio in your car with your windows open because a song they represent may get played and heard by folks casually passing by.  Sounds like EMI has too many lawyers, too much money and too little to do - outside of jacking money from the poor musicians who are fooled into listing with them.

So quitcherbitchin' and start yer twitchin'!