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[liberationtech] Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data

Rich Kulawiec rsk at
Mon Jun 17 05:53:00 PDT 2013

On Sun, Jun 09, 2013 at 10:11:08AM -0400, Nadim Kobeissi wrote:
> On 2013-06-09, at 10:08 AM, Rich Kulawiec <rsk at> wrote:
> > Second: stupidity, in all forms, fully deserves to be slapped down --
> This is where I stop reading.

I have to admit, even though I've read this half a dozen times,
I don't get it.  I tried coffee.  Nope.  I tried scotch.  Nope.
I tried staring at the clouds.  Nope.

So let me try explaining my take on it.

We're not playing around here.  There are people out there reading
this list and trying to figure out how to use technology to fight
human rights abuses, stop wars, reveal corruption, etc.  And they're
opposed, in many cases, by very smart very nasty very ruthless people
who will not hesitate to threaten, kidnap, torture and kill anyone
they perceive as a credible threat.

The advice we hand out here, the technology we create, may be the
difference in keeping the former group safe from the latter.

So if one of us makes a mistake, then we all need to know.  If I recommend
bad crypto because I don't know any better, *someone* had better smack
the crap out of me as quickly as possible before someone else makes the
mistake of listening to me.  I'll get over the momentary embarrassment:
heck, I make enough mistakes in an average day that I've gotten pretty
used to it.  I won't get over knowing that my error cost someone else dearly.

We owe that to all the people who are in the field trying to make this
world a better place.  We need to be as "right" as we can be, with our
limited knowledge and human propensity for mistakes.  And we need to not
worry about *who's* right or *how* they're right, because once we've
rid the world of poverty and starvation and disease and bigotry and
prejudice and violence and ignorance and superstition and repression,
then we'll have plenty of time to sit around and philosophically
debate the fine points of who should get which credit for what part of
the glorious and peaceful new reality.

Also there will be scotch.  Really, really good scotch. ;-)

So yes, stupidity SHOULD be slapped down.  So should ignorance,
superstition, prejudice, bigotry, and all of the other negative things
that -- during all of recorded human history and likely before --
have been the tools of tyrants and dictators.  Empires come and go,
political structures become fashionable and then fade away, the names
and places change constantly...but *these* things are the constant
enemy.  If we are to overcome them in those we oppose -- we must
first overcome them in ourselves.


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