Cards on the Table

Here I am in Mississippi. I’ve been trying to get out for well and good all my life. Mississippi is like a cage for the soul, but that’s not to say it’s a bad place.

We have nice weather, except during hurricane season. People mostly leave you alone and let you do your thing – as long as you’re a white, straight, MSEqualChristian, well-spoken man. If you’re black, gay, don’t believe in Jesus, stutter, or happen to be a woman, well. Mississippi might give you a bit of trouble.

Earlier this year, we had a nasty fight over a bill in the Legislature that was basically an argument over whether businesses could turn paying customers away because of their sexual orientation. Mississippi said no to that. I know because I watched the debate on the floor of the state house of representatives, and the house couldn’t pass it as it was originally written.

Instead, there was some fast talking, the bill went to a conference committee, some language was changed, it was passed while no one was looking, and the governor signed it.

So, what’s the point of even having representatives if they’re going to pass things while no one is looking, is my first question. Where’s the democracy in that? It’s more a mockery, really. The way Tolkien’s orcs are a mockery of elves. This was a perversion of the legislative process.

But something good came out of it. Now we have these little stickers, and t-shirts to go along with them.

IfUrBuying

Continue reading

Weekend Music: Chimes of Freedom

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of music over the past couple of months. It was on my mind when I wrote my post to mark the passing of Pete Seeger back in January, and I’ve been preoccupied with it since.

Music has probably influenced my personality as much as any other cultural phenomenon. I am one of those people whose lives have a soundtrack. Given the week we’ve just had here, “Chimes of Freedom” seems an appropriate choice for the weekend music post.

The Day We Fight Back

fightback

Tuesday is the day the Internet protests against mass surveillance.

I’m not mucking about with our page code to display the automated banner, and I’m not doing lengthy polemic. Here’s the information you need if you want to join in.

Here’s the web page that’s being used to coordinate this effort. You can find info and cool things there to add to your blog or social media profiles.

The Day We Fight Back also has a blog. If you want more info, or you’re in the U.S. and you’re inclined to contact you Senator or Congressman, this would be a good place to start.

If you just want to talk about it with some WordPress friends, or help us keep tabs on this issue by dropping us links when you run across them, the Alliance Against Mass Surveillance has four blogs with project pages that you can comment on.  The pages are similar, but each has its own set of links, and they will still be here once this day of action is over. You can also find The Surveillance Index on our sidebar. This is personal page I just created so that I can list everything we write about surveillance on one place. I’ll update it with new information as we receive it.

Note: This was supposed to post at midnight, but I was in a big hurry and hit the Publish button without thinking. I can’t pull it back because links were posted to all my Publicize channels, so, enjoy! 🙂

image: The Day We Fight Back

Surveillance News

I don’t blog news very often, but I’m trying to keep tabs on surveillance-related developments, so I’ll be doing one of these posts every week or so.

The Globe and Mail reported yesterday that a group of hackers and human rights activists are filing a suit in Germany alleging that the Merkel government assisted the NSA and the Britain’s GCHQ in spying on German citizens.

Fresno Bee columnist Rory Appleton has a few things to say about surveillance enabled by mobile apps, and about the state of privacy in general.

The Leather Library has video of former NSA technical director Bill Binney discussing why he decided to blow the whistle.

The Day We Fight Back’s campaign for a day of protest online on Feb. 11 is up to more than 3600 websites.

I’ll have an index page for surveillance-related posts up sometime this week.