Monthly Archives: April 2017

I posted on facebook

Normally, I leave politics off facebook. Instead, I post on twitter, or my blog, or talk on Slack, where I feel better expressing more radical views. Way too much anxiety to post on facebook and I’d likely post in a way that would alienate people.

But I posted something that pointed out that the rally at Berkeley was pretty overtly a white supremacist rally (despite being labeled as pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump protestors by more traditional media), and that expressed solidarity with antifa. It got more likes than I thought it would. However, I think that’s because the latter portion was behind “See more,” so most people didn’t see that portion. I suspect most of my facebook friends are liberals, and they’re more mushy about violence being a legitimate tactic against violent oppressors.

Regardless of whether people saw it or not, it still was encouraging. I had another conversation in someone’s facebook comments where I expressed solidarity, and the person I was talking to was unsure about the efficacy of antifa tactics but at least refused to condemn the violence. I’ve also tried to open up a bit more about how I think the world will be radically reshaped (still working along that framework I posted), and I feel more confident.

I want to start posting more radical stuff on facebook, educating people about the unjustness of our current economic systems, the possible eradication of work, abolishment of the prison-industrial complex (not reform), direct democracy, and more. It makes sense to post here to figure out my thoughts first. I suspect I’ll have to be more gentle on facebook, so hopefully I don’t scare too many people away. My goal is to expose them to more radical ideas and tip them towards radical critiques of capitalism and imperialism. I want to expand the discourse leftward. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t.

So, here’s the actual text I posted:

Alt-right = white supremacist hate group. They were holding a white supremacist rally in Berkeley. Stop pretending this is some type of “both sides are bad” “clash between pro-Trump and anti-Trump protestors.”
Here are the ties between the speakers/organizers at the rally and white nationalism/neo-Nazis:…/
Here’s an alt-right flag based off a third reich flag:

Here’s somebody giving a Nazi salute:

Here’s them with an anti-semitic sign:

One of the groups organizing the rally was Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group:

You can’t just ignore them. Their candidate is president, enacting terrible policies. White terrorists like James Harris Jackson and Dylann Roof have killed people.
I support those who defended us from white supremacist scum. 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

Decentralization and Corruption in Alabama

This is a great article on the sources of corruption in Alabama.

Of course, the main part that interested me was the stuff on over-centralization.

The legacy of centralization is closely related to Alabama’s recent scandals, not just those in Birmingham. In most states, if a lobbying group wishes to gain influence, they not only lobby in the capital, but they must also go to areas where they hope to work and lobby the mayor, the county commissioner, and other local officials to gain their favor. In Alabama, only Montgomery’s voice matters, leading to a city populated by special interests. Mike Hubbard used this centralized system of favors and kickbacks for his own material gain.

This shows how a centralized system is more fragile to being taken over by special interests. They can buy less people in order to have their will enacted.

The centralization is also closely tied with racism and classism. Power was specifically centralized to lock out “poor whites [and] black voters.” Instead of being able to control their own lives, the state capital had control of the laws. Even more recently: “When Birmingham tried to raise the minimum wage, they were struck down by the state legislature.”

The project of decentralization is not a rationalist utopian project. It is a practical project against the fragility of centralization. Centralized hierarchies are more easily corruptible. I’m not saying that localized control cannot be corrupted, but that it would require much more power and money to control more territory. Decentralized control can create bulwarks against corruption, preventing corruption from spreading.

Giving control to cities like Birmingham would not erase class distinctions. However, they would at least be able to raise the minimum wage. This is not possible in their over-centralized system. This is why I advocate for city-power over state-power and what makes me uneasy about projects like Calexit. In fact, if you magically erased nation-states and allowed cities to collaborate, we would already have the political will to do something about global warming. Again, it’s not that decentralization would automatically solve the problem, but it would make it more likely to be solved. With the Birmingham example, specifically, a lot of people would be materially better off. It’s harder to achieve this on the state level because of the aforementioned corruption.

So now, with just this specific example of Alabama, we can point out that on a utilitarian level, lots of people would likely be materially better with a more decentralized system. We can also show that it’s much less fragile when it comes to corruption by the elites. When we extend the example to include the state-level disenfranchisement, we can also show that the people have more power in the decentralized system. They may not necessarily choose to make their lives better, but at least they have the option, whereas they didn’t before. Morally and practically, decentralization is a better option than what we have now.

The VPN Saga

Sometimes an easy task becomes a giant chore. Like, when you’re about to cook dinner, but then you need to wash a pot, but the sink is full so you have to clear out the sink, but the drying rack is full so you have to put away the dry dishes first… etcetera. Anyway, I thought getting a VPN would be an easy process, but alas, it would not be so. At some point, I decided that I should set it up on my router. That way, it would protect traffic from the chromecast and gaming devices. And, I wouldn’t run into the device limits. This decision led me down a deep rabbit hole.

I have an Asus RT-N56U. When I checked the router, it only had support for PPTP, which is less secure than OpenVPN. I upgraded the firmware, and still no luck. I guess my device was too old? Other Asus devices supported it. I seent the screenshots.

I had to start researching alternate firmware. There was AsusWRT, which didn’t actually support my router, so that was out. There was something from someone going by Padavan. but it seemed like a project done by just one person and I wasn’t sure how much I trusted it. It’s probably fine. However, the process of buying a VPN put me in a more paranoid, and I decided to keep looking.

I finally stumbled upon OpenWRT. As I dug deeper, I discovered that there were two versions of my router that were indistinguishable. One version supported OpenWRT and one, the newer one, didn’t. (Newer routers aren’t as hackable because of FCC regulations. They don’t want you changing the antenna to get to channels you’re not supposed to be on.) I didn’t know which one mine was. Finding out if mine was too old to be the incompatible one would help. I dug through my Amazon records to see when I bought it, but couldn’t find it. Eventually, I came upon a forum post pointing out that there were actually visual differences. Mine was the right one!

I borrowed a usb-ethernet dongle from a friend to flash the firmware. Otherwise, I would’ve been forced to dig up my old-ass windows laptop and wait 15 minutes for its physical-drive-having-ass to boot up.

The setup wasn’t too bad. Initially, I wasn’t sure whether to use tcp or udp. (TCP was right after a bit of research.) I installed sftp on the router, which wasn’t too difficult, to move files because I didn’t want to use scp. It worked, even with Netflix.

And then, Netflix stopped working. Proxy error.

There was no easy way to disable it. If I stopped OpenVPN, it restarted itself because of the scripts the vpn recommended to prevent leakage. And I didn’t want to delete everything. That would’ve been annoying. So, we went a few days without Netflix. What a dark time.

When I tried a different vpn server, after finally having some free time to fiddle, it still didn’t work. Did I want to give up on having a VPN altogether? Netflix and other services block VPNs to prevent getting around geolocking. They geolock because the rights to the content are different in different countries. People don’t talk about this enough. Most people aren’t going to inconvenience themselves this much for privacy.

I chose to sacrifice some of my security as well. I kept the vpn, but researched a way to allow netflix traffic through directly. It was a bit of a hassle. I had to set up another repo because the vpnbypass package wasn’t part of the official repo. It worked, though, and is still the set up I have now.

I have more thoughts on VPNs and selling traffic in general. However, I’ll save that for a separate post.

Chemical Weapons

The alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad is being used as a pretext to attack Syria. So I should be researching more about Syria, but instead I did a little digging on some other users of chemical weapons.

In 2004, the US used white phosphorus against insurgents in Fallujah. Initially, the US claimed that they weren’t using them against people, only for illumination. This was a lie.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons. The US provided intelligence to Saddam, basically telling him where to use them. And they also provided other arms and sold materials to help them create chemical weapons. This wasn’t revealed until years later.

Um, so when are we getting regime change in the US, lol

Another thing that bugs me is that chemical weapons were sold as part of Saddam’s WMDs when the case for the Iraq War was made. However, that weapons program had been dismantled. When some remnants were found (that weren’t part of any active program), they were again touted as proof of WMDs when they couldn’t claim the nuclear thing anymore.

Assad supposedly had to end his chemical weapons program too several years ago. Yet here we go again. Maybe he didn’t get rid of them? Maybe he did? Now I see why people love conspiracy theories.

In any case, even when one can make the case about foreign dictators being bad, that still doesn’t necessarily justify invasion. In fact, the US keeps losing wars, the same way whitewashed Hollywood movies keep losing at the box office. Well, this is a terrible analogy because whitewashed movies don’t help create space for ISIS.

So yeah, I’m not too well-versed in the particulars of Syria, but I am generally against bombing, especially when it’s done unilaterally by a US president.

Clinton likely would’ve done the same, and pretty much said so in her last interview. Can’t wait to see all the Democrats, the press, and moderate Republicans start standing with Trump. This is why centrism is garbage because the main thing both parties agree on is killing people abroad.