As Above, So Below

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Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication satellites into orbit.

The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.

Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.

Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit - usually only for brief periods of time - but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.

The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project…

zeitgeistmovement:

Tell Congress to oppose S. 978, the new “Ten Strikes” bill

Here they go again: The big business lobbyists who are behind the Internet Blacklist Bill are already making the sequel. THIS WEEK Senators will be voting on a “Ten Strikes” bill to make it a felony to stream copyrighted content — like music in the background of a Youtube video — more than ten times.

As the writers at TechDirt point out, under this bill you could go to jail for posting video of your friends singing karaoke:

The entertainment industry is freaking out about sites that embed and stream infringing content, and want law enforcement to put people in jail over it, rather than filing civil lawsuits…. We already pointed to one possibility: that people embedding YouTube videos could face five years in jail. Now, others are pointing out that it could also put kids who lip sync to popular songs, and post the resulting videos on YouTube, in jail as well.

That’s right: Ten strikes and you could get jail time.  Less than two weeks ago, the Hollywood industry magazine, Variety, reported, “Industry lobbyists pressed House members on Wednesday to pass legislation that would make illegal streaming of movies, TV shows and other types of content a felony….”

Only days later, the MPAA is getting its wish. Will you email your lawmakers and tell them to vote against the Ten Strikes Bill? Just add your info at right to automatically send this note to them, under your name and from your address. (You can edit the letter if you’d like to.)

Just sign on at right and we’ll send an email to your lawmakers.

Not on my goddamn watch. Please sign, reblog and post in your other networks.

(via megacosms)

U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.

Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.

The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.

In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.

Continue reading at The New York Times

While this sounds fantastic, I have never trusted any advancement in technology or science backed by government under the “freedom of speech” banner. They can take this away just as easily. Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security or pride. The major players are developing their own internet kill switches to evoke an even more powerful rendition of what we have seen in Egypt and Syria. Guaranteed.

I want to believe this “shadow” internet is being developed to empower the people but the cynic in me sees this inverted for oppression. Will this really be used to “undermine repressive governments?” This could just as readily be employed to stage a coup d’état in favor of a puppet state. Time will tell.

In light of such dissident supportive endeavors perhaps we should remember this proverb:

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

But for how long?

We confront a basic paradox whenever we discuss personal freedom in literate and tribal cultures. Literate mechanical society separated the individual from the group in space, engendering privacy; in thought, engendering point of view; and in work, engendering specialism-thus forging all the values associated with individualism. But at the same time, print technology has homogenized man, creating mass militarism, mass mind and mass uniformity; print gave man private habits of individualism and a public role of absolute conformity. That is why the young today welcome their retribalization, however dimly they perceive it, as a release from the uniformity, alienation and dehumanization of literate society. Print centralizes socially and fragments psychically, whereas the electric media bring man together in a tribal village that is a rich and creative mix, where there is actually more room for creative diversity than within the homogenized mass urban society of Western man.

Marshall McLuhan (via nielsgommesen)

(via nielsgommesen-deactivated201203)

Complete Internet Blackout in Egypt
By Curt Hopkins / January 27, 2011 3:45 PM 
After blocking Twitter on Tuesday and, intermittently, Facebook and Google on Wednesday, the Egyptian government has upped the ante, throwing a complete Internet access block across the whole of the country. Additionally blocked are Blackberry service and SMS.
Reports are pouring in, many to Twitterers via landline, that the country has been “cut off” and is now a “black hole.”
Reports from Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere in the country indicate the block is wholesale and countrywide.
CNN’s Ben Wedeman commented, “No internet, no SMS, what is next? Mobile phones and land lines? So much for stability” and asked “Will #Egypt totally cut communications with the outside world?”
That depends, I think, on whether the idea now is to disrupt communications between groups of protesters or to lay a blackout curtain across Egypt to mask a total crackdown. As many as eight protesters, three in Cairo and five in Suez, have been killed, along with one policeman. I think if landlines and mobile go, the question must become, is the Egyptian government planning a wholesale massacre? (AP has raw footage of security forces converging, then killing a protester. Please be warned. This is some vicious shit.)
Those in and outside of Egypt have pledged to keep as much in connection to one another using whichever avenues remain. This is one of those times, however, in which the presence of functioning traditional journalists will pick up from the citizens who had been reporting on the ground.
via ReadWriteWeb High-res

Complete Internet Blackout in Egypt

By Curt Hopkins / January 27, 2011 3:45 PM 

After blocking Twitter on Tuesday and, intermittently, Facebook and Google on Wednesday, the Egyptian government has upped the ante, throwing a complete Internet access block across the whole of the country. Additionally blocked are Blackberry service and SMS.

Reports are pouring in, many to Twitterers via landline, that the country has been “cut off” and is now a “black hole.”

Reports from Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere in the country indicate the block is wholesale and countrywide.

CNN’s Ben Wedeman commented, “No internet, no SMS, what is next? Mobile phones and land lines? So much for stability” and asked “Will #Egypt totally cut communications with the outside world?”

That depends, I think, on whether the idea now is to disrupt communications between groups of protesters or to lay a blackout curtain across Egypt to mask a total crackdown. As many as eight protesters, three in Cairo and five in Suez, have been killed, along with one policeman. I think if landlines and mobile go, the question must become, is the Egyptian government planning a wholesale massacre? (AP has raw footage of security forces converging, then killing a protester. Please be warned. This is some vicious shit.)

Those in and outside of Egypt have pledged to keep as much in connection to one another using whichever avenues remain. This is one of those times, however, in which the presence of functioning traditional journalists will pick up from the citizens who had been reporting on the ground.

via ReadWriteWeb

Unique internet ID for all Americans

President Obama has signaled that he will give the United States Commerce Department the authority over a proposed national cybersecurity measure that would involve giving each American a unique online identity. Other candidates mentioned previously to head up the new system have included the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, but the announcement that the Commerce Department will take the job should please groups that have raised concerns over security agencies doing double duty in police and intelligence work. So anyway, what about this unique ID we’ll all be getting? Well, though details are still pretty scant, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, speaking at an event at the Stanford Institute, stressed that the new system would not be akin to a national ID card, or a government controlled system, but that it would enhance security and reduce the need for people to memorize dozens of passwords online. Sorry, Locke, sounds like a national ID system to us. Anyway, the Obama administration is currently drafting what it’s dubbed the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which is expected at the Department of Commerce in a few months. We’ll keep you posted if anything terrifying or cool happens.

Update: For clarity’s sake, we should note that the proposed unique ID system will be opt in only, not a mandatory program for all citizens.

via Engadget

~

Scary shit here, but perhaps an eventuality for the world as everything goes digital? For now it’s “opt in” only… we’ll see if it stays that way.

Rediscovering The Visceral

"Do you ever have trouble focusing? I usually think in words (or in syntax, at least) but lately I’ve been really preoccupied by these vague, oblique thoughts, and I can’t help but fixate on them. It’s really outside of my ability to even try to fit those thoughts into words, but when I follow them it feels like I’m doing math; there’s some sort of inherent logic that propels my train of thought, but it is completely foreign to me. Anyway, I used to be able to focus for long periods of time, but now I get lost. I don’t think it has anything to do with my sleeping patterns or diet or anything like that. I’m not asking you to diagnose me, but what do you do when you need to focus for a long time? My normal go-to is music, but what I’m trying to focus on is audio editing."

— brokenshrines

You’re not the only one suffering from this modern dementia. A world of flashing lights, hypertext, and shock-value media is sure to short circuit the mind’s ability to focus. The solution? Turn off the computer, open the windows, go running through sunshine and fresh air. Take up dance, cooking, rock climbing—anything that will stimulate your senses as well as kinesthetically engage you. Rediscover the visceral.

The internet and its resulting technologies are tools, not crutches. As long as we are made of flesh and blood we cannot ignore our primal roots. The vague disintegration of our thoughts is our minds’ way of telling us we are losing balance. We need to stay in touch with our bodies and get back to Nature.

The Mind Is Wired Like the Internet

The brain appears to be a vastly interconnected network much like the Internet, according to new research.

That runs counter to the 19th-Century “top-down” view of brain structure.

A novel technique to track signals across tiny brain regions has revealed connections between regions associated with stress, depression and appetite.

The research, which has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, may lead to a full map of the nervous system.

Larry Swanson and Richard Thompson from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, US, isolated a small section of a rat’s brain in the nucleus accumbens - a brain region long associated with pleasure and reward.

Their technique hinges on the injection of “tracers” at precise points in the brain tissue. These are molecules that do not interfere with the movement of signals across the tissue, but can be illuminated and identified using a microscope.

Loops Not Lines

What is new is that the researchers injected two tracers at the same point at the same time: one that showed where signals were going, and one that showed where they were coming from. The approach can show up to four levels of connection.

If the brain has a hierarchichal structure like a large company, as neurology has long held, the “to” and “from” diagram would show straight lines from independent regions up towards a central processing unit: the company’s boss.

But instead, the researchers saw loops between differing regions, feeding back to and directly linking regions that were not known to communicate with one another. This is a better fit with the model of vast networks such as the internet.

The region of the brain studied by the researchers displays a network connecting regions associated with stress, appetite and depression.

Such a highly interconnected structure has been hypothesised for some time, and could prove to be a powerful tool in analysing how the brain processes information. But it had not, until now, been demonstrated experimentally.

"You would be amazed at how much of the current experimental neuroscience literature is dominated by ‘top down-bottom up thinking’, which goes back to the 19th Century, especially in neurology," Professor Swanson told BBC News.

"The bottom line is that no matter what you might think, the circuitry we’ve shown - that specific set of structural connections - has not been demonstrated before."

The work illuminates just one tiny corner of the vast number of connections present even in a small mammal’s brain. But by slightly overlapping one mapped region with another, and mapping that, a far greater picture could emerge.

"This method is repeatable in a sensible way so that neural networks can be followed as far as they go - ultimately to the whole wiring diagram of the brain," Professor Swanson said.

Such a diagram would be boundlessly complex, and the degree to which it could shed light on the more slippery questions of consciousness and cognition is still up for debate.

"We have no idea right now, but the direct analogy is with the Human Genome Project: taking on faith that knowing the complete sequence of human DNA would be a foundation stone for biology, no matter how long the understanding may take to realise in practical terms."

(via BBC and amoration)