I was listening to the radio on my way home from work this evening, and they did a spot on the recent UC Berkeley protests. I couldn't help but notice that most of the airtime was devoted to discussion of the violence that had taken place, and relatively little time was spent on the actual reason for the protests. They even went out of their way to call attention to the fact that a couple Republicans were injured in the protest.

The two articles I could find on the topic from the same news station were titled, "Riot Forces Cancellation Of Yiannopoulos Talk At UC Berkeley", and "UC Berkeley Chancellor Blasts Violence Over Yiannopoulos Speech". Just as on the air, both articles lead with the violence and bury the reason for the protest in the middle of the article.

Looking at a few other (somewhat left-leaning, even) news agencies yields a selection of similar, mostly-negative headlines, with one or two neutrals or positives:

Similarly, on Twitter, the local journalists I follow were tweeting mostly pictures of fire and looting. (I won't link to their posts since there are a lot of them.)

Frankly, this looks bad for anti-fascists. Whether or not you think violent protest is okay in principle, our message is getting lost behind fear and violence.

When people see fire, shattered windows, and smashed ATMs, that's what they're going to focus on. It doesn't matter why people are lighting fires and breaking windows, it just matters that they are. Everything else they see—our message, the downtrodden masses, the police brutality—is colored by the fact that "protestors" started it. (And no, it doesn't matter that the provocateurs weren't part of the "official" protest. [link is to a local journalist])

I have not participated in any of the recent protests (large crowds are increasingly hard for my introverted self to handle). But when I was (non-violently) protesting for marriage equality in college, I would for the most part see three general classes of reaction:

  • From bigots: Scowls and/or heckling
  • From other supporters: Enthusiastic waving, honking, shouting, etc.
  • From unconcerned bystanders: "Why are they blocking the street?"

Presumably we are protesting because we're trying to make a change. To do that, we need to convince everyone we can that our change is the right thing to do. We're not going to convince the bigots, fascists, and so on; they've already made up their minds. We're not going to convince other supporters; they don't need convincing. That leaves people who are on the fence, unconcerned, uninformed, or just plain haven't thought about it much. These bystanders are our target audience.

Protests are a great way to get their attention; a little disruption goes a long way in getting bystanders to sit up and take notice. But when they do, they're first going to wonder, "Why are those protesters blocking the street?" It's incumbent on us to have a crystal-clear answer, and make sure that nothing distracts from that message.

"Black Lives Matter!"

"Women's rights are human rights!"

"Immigrants are welcome here!"

If a bystander's first impression is of fire and broken windows, that is how they'll remember our cause. If people are injured or killed, even if it's not our fault, that will stick in their minds more than anything we might have to say. Our opponents will use this to their advantage—they'll label us "violent extremists", they'll accuse us of trampling on their rights, they'll counter with their own, "reasonable"(-sounding) arguments, and those arguments will resonate all the more for standing in opposition to violent extremists.

Violence distracts from the message, and then—just as it did at UC Berkeley—it becomes the story. The message is forgotten.

— Des

deskitty: Angry pouncy siamese cat head (Default)

Jan. 29th, 2017 05:50 pm
Not going to make it to BLFC this year. The room block filled up way back in August while I wasn't looking, and the standard rate is way more than I'm willing to pay, given that they put us in a smoking room last year, and there does not seem to be a guaranteed way to get a non-smoking room.

I'm thinking of putting together a panel for the next FC or BLFC [I'm not going to make it] on how to protect yourself online. Some potential topics for discussion include:

  • What is "security"? What is "privacy"? (threat modeling)
  • What to look for in a "secure" service. (Not all security/privacy protections are the same; how to tell the difference.)
  • Browsing the Web (HTTP and HTTPS, certificates, etc.)
  • Chatting online (Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, etc.)
  • File storage (Dropbox, SpiderOak, etc.)
  • Choosing secure passwords/passphrases
  • Protecting your phone and computer from attack

The EFF has a great resource that covers a lot of these topics. I would be leaning heavily on their material, and supplementing it with additional details that I've learned or researched (e.g. Telegram's over-hyped security).

If you're going to one of these conventions, would you be interested in such a panel? If so, what would you like to see/hear/learn about?

While I have a strong technical background, I'm not a career security expert. If you're an expert, or at least have a strong security background, would you be interested in reviewing my material and/or co-presenting?

Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.

— Des

Posting this here for posterity, and just in case any of you feel inclined to write similar letters. ;)

Dear Sen. Feinstein,

I’m a constituent from the Bay Area. I’m writing to let you know that I was, frankly, appalled by your vote to confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. A man who has a long track record of supporting both torture and mass surveillance has no place running an organization with a history of abusing and misusing its powers, even to the point of spying on you and your staff.

A man such as Rep. Pompeo has neither the willingness nor the capacity to bring this rogue agency in line, and I have no confidence in his desire or ability to follow the law and the Constitution when it comes to the privacy and due process rights of American citizens or citizens of other nations.

Furthermore, while I am well aware that you and I disagree on the issue of mass surveillance, you should know that a Pew Research survey conducted in 2015 showed that “65% of American adults believe there are not adequate limits on the telephone and internet data that the government collects.” While I don’t know (and Pew did not publish) the number for California specifically, you are clearly out of step with your constituents and the rest of the country on this issue. I hope you will take these views into consideration in your dealings with Director Pompeo and others in the intelligence community in the future.

Going forward, I expect you to thoroughly investigate all of Pres. Trump’s cabinet nominations, and vigorously oppose any nominees who have a history of (a) failing to recognize the serious threat to global security posed by climate change, (b) advocating for the imprisonment, deportation, or unequal treatment of any protected class (Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, LGBTs, etc.), (c) advocating for the repeal or dilution of the Voting Rights Act or similar provisions of law, or (d) disregarding established fact in favor of “alternative facts”, propaganda or similar fabrications. I expect you to oppose these nominations REGARDLESS of what might be said in their confirmation hearings.

In particular, I expect you to vigorously oppose the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Both of these individuals are unfit to serve for some, if not all, of the reasons listed above.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Best Regards,

Spent the weekend dusting off my Dreamwidth account as a place to be both social AND long-form. (And by "dusting off", I mean I built a custom layout and theme. Hope you like it!)

While I have my website for long-form thinking, it's evolved to be something more formal than I want to use all the time, and it also doesn't really afford me the opportunity to interact with you folks, since there's no commenting system (and I don't want to go to the time and expense of maintaining one).

While I have Twitter, it's just not that useful for discussion of any kind. The tweet length is too short, and most nuance gets lost, leading lots of rage and little opportunity for substantial, thoughtful engagement. (And, to be clear, I'm just as guilty of this—I engage when I shouldn't, or when I should do so in another forum, and the discussion has a way of spiraling pretty quickly.)

LiveJournal used to fill that same social/thoughtful niche for me online, but they're no longer trustworthy as a company for a variety of reasons. So here we are. I like Dreamwidth's business model and if I find that I'm using them regularly, I intend to $upport their efforts.

It's funny to me that after all the "advances" in social media—Twitter, Google Plus, Medium, and so on—I still prefer to be on what is almost the same platform I was in the early 2000s. Sure, you can re-skin and update your UI, or improve/extend your back-end infrastructure, but there's just not much more to be done to improve a good ol' blogging service.

Hope to see y'all here soon.

— Des
deskitty: Angry pouncy siamese cat head (Default)


Aug. 26th, 2013 01:33 am
Hello, world!

I think I finally have the theme setup something like how I want it...

But, just in case I don't, here's some Latin:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?


deskitty: Angry pouncy siamese cat head (Default)

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