2 months ago in Cowardly Companies Present

a comment on HN from 6 years ago

I used to work for Blizzard. The Chinese government requested that we modify the WoW client so that they could intercept all chat. As far as I know, no-one said anything, including me - and Blizzard, of course, was more than happy to comply, given the size of the market and the risk of being forbidden to do business there. There were plenty of other MMOGs happy to play ball and eat that cake.

I didn't say anything. It was happening to "them", Chinese nationals. Not only that, but "they" should know better than to say sensitive things online, because even if we didn't install the back door, I reasoned, it wouldn't be too hard to get that data through various other means.

I really regret not only my participation, but not making a big stink about it. No-one did. I strongly suspect that that same system is being being used domestically, now. Clearly it was the wrong thing to do. I've regretted my role in that implementation for several years. I shouldn't have participated, and I should have protested. Even if it didn't stop it, at least the company leadership might have felt the heat. But I was a coward and I didn't want to lose my job, didn't want to fight a legal battle, and, like I said, it was just China spying on it's people, which everyone knew they do anyway.

And who knows? The news probably would have been ignored, or, if it wasn't, I might have been branded as a coward and a disloyal employee, betraying the people who put food on my table. And I being under 30, overpaid, over-priviledged, etc. I can hear the Fox News commentators even now. That, to me, has been the most difficult thing about Snowden, is that here's someone who did the right thing, who revealed wrong-doing on the part of our government, and there are a lot of people who say he's the wrongdoer, who attack him as disloyal and worse. A back door in a game used by China? Who would even care about that? And if they did, I'd just be torn to shreds, unemployable and with heaven-knows-what kind of future.

The reaction to Manning and Snowden, particularly the lack of strong public support, sends a strong signal that people don't want to know. They don't want to upset the apple cart. They don't want to challenge the government, they don't want to question it, not even when it's clearly violating it's own most important rules - the rules that, presumably, we've been fighting to promote these last 200 years. It seems hopeless.
 2 months ago in Quotes
First they came for the Tibetans, I did not speak up because I am not Tibetan.

Then they came for the Uighur, I did not speak up because I am not Uighur.

Then they came for Hong Kong, I did not speak up because I am not from Hong Kong.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
 3 months ago in Quotes
Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
Inaugural Address at University of St. Andrews (1867)
 4 months ago in Quotes
The sad irony is that the pattern of

  • knowing the science enough to know they're contributing to others suffering
  • knowing what might happen with reasonable certainty
  • but compartmentalizing that awareness internally to avoid acting
  • hiding it externally
  • and keeping doing what they were doing

describes the reactions of most individuals about climate change.
 9 months ago in Quotes
I feel like everyone is doing social media marketing - or something equally useless while the world around us is breaking down.
 2 years ago in Quotes
The salvation of the world depends only on the individual whose world it is. At least, every individual must act as if the whole future of the world, of humanity itself, depends on him. Anything less is a shirking of responsibility and is itself a dehumanizing force, for anything less encourages the individual to look upon himself as a mere actor in a drama written by anonymous agents, as less than a whole person, and that is the beginning of passivity and aimlessness.
 3 years ago in Quotes
We have to create culture, don't watch TV, don't read magazines, don't even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you're worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you're giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told 'no', we're unimportant, we're peripheral. 'Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.' And then you're a player, you don't want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.
 3 years ago in Quotes
When all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.
 4 years ago in Quotes
As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.
 4 years ago in Quotes
Because we are lied to all the time, in ways so routine they are beneath conscious notice, even the most direct lies are losing their power to shock us.
 4 years ago in Quotes
At this point we find ourselves confronted by a very disquieting question: Do we really wish to act upon our knowledge? Does a majority of the population think it worth while to take a good deal of trouble, in order to halt and, if possible, reverse the current drift toward totalitarian control of everything?

In the United States and America is the prophetic image of the rest of the urban-industrial world as it will be a few years from now -- recent public opinion polls have revealed that an actual majority of young people in their teens, the voters of tomorrow, have no faith in democratic institutions, see no objection to the censor­ship of unpopular ideas, do not believe that govern­ment of the people by the people is possible and would be perfectly content, if they can continue to live in the style to which the boom has accustomed them, to be ruled, from above, by an oligarchy of assorted experts. That so many of the well-fed young television-watchers in the world's most powerful democracy should be so completely indifferent to the idea of self-government, so blankly uninterested in freedom of thought and the right to dissent, is distressing, but not too surprising.

"Free as a bird," we say, and envy the winged creatures for their power of unrestricted movement in all the three dimensions. But, alas, we forget the dodo. Any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded. Something analogous is true of human beings. If the bread is supplied regularly and copiously three times a day, many of them will be perfectly content to live by bread alone -- or at least by bread and circuses alone.

[..]

Considering how little they knew and how poorly they were equipped, the Grand Inquisitors of earlier times did remarkably well. But their successors, the well-in­formed, thoroughly scientific dictators of the future will undoubtedly be able to do a great deal better. The Grand Inquisitor reproaches Christ with having called upon men to be free and tells Him that "we have cor­rected Thy work and founded it upon miracle, mystery and authority."

But miracle, mystery and authority are not enough to guarantee the indefinite survival of a dictatorship. In my fable of Brave New World, the dictators had added science to the list and thus were able to enforce their authority by manipulating the bodies of embryos, the reflexes of infants and the minds of children and adults. And, instead of merely talking about miracles and hinting symbolically at mysteries, they were able, by means of drugs, to give their subjects the direct experience of mysteries and miracles -- to transform mere faith into ecstatic knowl­edge.

The older dictators fell because they could never supply their subjects with enough bread, enough cir­cuses, enough miracles and mysteries. Nor did they possess a really effective system of mind-manipulation. In the past, free-thinkers and revolutionaries were often the products of the most piously orthodox educa­tion. This is not surprising. The methods employed by orthodox educators were and still are extremely inefficient. Under a scientific dictator education will really work -- with the result that most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution. There seems to be no good reason why a thoroughly scientific dictatorship should ever be overthrown.

Meanwhile there is still some freedom left in the world. Many young people, it is true, do not seem to value freedom. But some of us still believe that, with­out freedom, human beings cannot become fully hu­man and that freedom is therefore supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them.
 4 years ago in Quotes
These sectors of doctrinal system serve to divert the unwashed masses and reinforce the basic social values: Passivity, submissiveness to authority, the overriding virtue of greed and personal gain, lack of concern for others, fear of real and imagined enemies, etc. The goal is to keep the bewildered herd bewildered. It's unnecessary for them to trouble themselves with what's happening in the world. In fact, it's undesirable if they see too much of reality they may set themselves to change it.
 4 years ago in Quotes
Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.
 4 years ago in Quotes
But when they plunder from these miners, these children, my fellow citizens, countrymen, thrown out on the highways and mother insulted — do you think that they will be good citizens when they grow up? I don't. The revenge and resentment will be buried there if they grow into manhood, it will develop, they will kill, they will murder to get even with those who robbed them. I want you to stop that. I don't want it to go on. Your Governor may, but I don't. I want the children to have the best of influence, I want the children to have good schooling, I want women to know nothing but what is good, I want to leave to this nation a nobler manhood and greater womanhood. Can I do it? No, I can't, boys, with the administration you have got, I can't do it.

I can do it if you men and women will stand together, find out the seat of the disease and pull it up by the roots.

Take possession of that state house, that ground is yours. (Someone interrupted, and the speaker said "Shut your mouth.")

You built that state house, didn't you? You pay the public officials, don't you? You paid for that ground, didn't you? (Cries of: "Yes," "yes.")

Then, who does it belong to? Then why did the militia chase you off? You have been hypnotized. The trouble has been that they wanted the slave system to continue. They have had a glass for you and your wives and children to look into. They have you hypnotized.
 5 years ago in Quotes
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
"The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark"
 6 years ago in Quotes
In the Hoover/FBI days, we had a chance - the Operation Snow Whites' and so on. Now, however, there is no such chance: the NSA has far, far too many safe-guards in place to protect itself, and has infiltrated - and controls, directly - too many so-called 'peace movements' and other groups that might have a chance at awakening the sheeple. We must be more diligent, and with greater resolve to fight back now, than ever before in history - because we are at the cusp of allowing a seriously evil influence over the world to have its will - whereas in the 60's and 70's, people were willing to stand up and fight, now hardly anyone will. At all.
 6 years ago in Quotes
What would you say is the most you will tolerate before the French Revolution seems like an appropriate course of action? Does your personal French Revolution cutoff happen before or after a close friend or family member is robbed, raped, kidnapped, or murdered by royalty? Does your personal French Revolution cutoff happen before or after the level of oppression makes the French Revolution impossible?
 6 years ago in Quotes
If you think for a second that detention of associates of political enemies matters to an electorate far more interested in the minutiae of Kanye West's baby, you're living in a fairy land of your own making.
Tagsapathy
 6 years ago in Quotes
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
 6 years ago in Quotes
The middle-class public generally isn't against arrest and/or execution by the government for secret crimes. What they are against is the arrest of people that they relate to, and who share their values. The only principled stands that they can understand are standing for children, animals, personal possessions, and customer service.