On Civil Disobedience

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Today, the Guardian published remarks by Michael Hayden, former director of the US National Security Agency, with regard to Edward Snowden’s actions in revealing our government’s immoral actions against its own citizens. Here’s what Hayden said:

If Snowden really claims that his actions amounted to genuine civil disobedience, he should go to some English language bookstore in Moscow and get a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. Thoreau points out clearly that civil disobedience gets its moral authority by the willingness to suffer the penalties from disobeying a law, even if you think that law is unjust.

Here’s the problem with the whole “it’s the law and must be obeyed or suffered” paradigm:

The law said slavery was okay and provided for punishment for trying to escape slavery. The law said repressing women’s right to vote was okay, and provided punishment for women who tried to vote. The law said informed, consensual personal choice of sexuality was not okay, and punished people for such choices in the bedroom and elsewhere.

First, none of those things are actually okay. Those laws were (and remain) immoral and wrong; and more to the point, anyone who charged anyone under those laws was immoral and wrong, anyone who advocated punishment under those laws was immoral and wrong, and of course, anyone who applied punishment under those laws was immoral and wrong.

Second, with regard to Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, which (essentially) says that the moral authority for civil disobedience comes only from being willing to suffer the slings and arrows of an unjust law’s unjust punishment, not only no, but hell no.

The moral authority for civil disobedience comes directly and inevitably from the fact that the law is morally wrong.

There is no moral authority in advocating, creating, obeying or enforcing a law that is wrong, nor in simply declaring “it’s the law.” Only moral failure.

For instance, when you make a law that says (or supports the idea that) slavery is ok, there is nothing that can make that law moral. There is nothing that can make obeying that law moral. There is nothing that can make disobeying that law immoral. The only moral path available to you is to outright disobey the law. Anything else is immoral.

If you want the law to have moral authority, the only way you can achieve that is to create moral laws.

Our central problem in this regard is that our politicians and a very large number of the people they have appointed are, in fact, immoral individuals acting contrary to the interest of the public at large and every individual they are supposed to be working in service of. Not to mention breakers of the oaths they took that give them the moral right to hold the offices they sit. They don’t deserve to be supported in any such undertaking. They deserve to be kicked in the shin. Hard.

Now, yes, it is true that in fighting immoral government acts, you may indeed suffer at its hands. That is the core nature of immorality; it does others wrong. But that is a far cry from any legitimacy for the conception that says you should so suffer. Thoreau was flat-out wrong. So is Hayden, acting as an echo chamber for Thoreau. And just so we’re perfectly clear on the issue of the day: Snowden was, and remains, right.

If you would like to take away a money quote about law that is moral in its characterization of law, rather than the sophist nonsense Thoreau was (and Hayden is) peddling, I’m delighted to oblige (emphasis within the quote mine):

…in so far as [law] deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.

Thomas Aquinas

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Real Change is Coming

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We are facing a brand-new set of oncoming challenges. There’s never been a situation previously where a significant (and likely unlimited and continuously, and rapidly, growing) wave of higher-qualified workers who did not require wages entered the workforce.

LDNLS vs. AI


I discuss LDNLS vs. AI over in this other post. These things are affecting the job market now. There’s no remaining time to feel or act complacent.

Increasingly sophisticated LDNLS Workers that never cheat, never steal, are never late, very rarely “sick”, have no unions, no wages, no insurance, no internecine or even trivial conflict, don’t get pregnant, who never have to stay home with sick kids or spouse, don’t need or want a cafeteria, a gym, breaks, a lunch hour, tips, or stock options; are unfailingly polite, even sympathetic, immune to office romance, gossip, corporate espionage, complaints of mistreatment; have no interest in and do not require promotion, will never misuse company time, and are replaceable the very moment something more effective is available without any consequences to social security charges, unemployment tithing, legal costs, or need for security personnel to walk the previous “employee” to the door.
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GAP 20m Monogap Vertical Dipole Review

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I’ve been setting up a small trailer for use as a mobile, independently powered radio station for use at HF and VHF. To that end, it has its own deployable solar panels, internal power storage, and dedicated power conversion electronics. There are quite a few 12.6 VDC VHF and HF radios out there, and I own several, so the radios are less of a problem than a situation where I have to make some kind of fun decision between multiple good options.

VHF antennas are no problem. But the HF antenna… There’s the rub. If it’s to be truly portable, that means it cannot be large, and it will not be high in the air. Those are very significant drawbacks for most antenna systems; they directly impact both receive and transmit performace. So I went hunting. Eventually, I happened upon the Monogap 20 meter antenna, which is a vertical dipole; easily portable within the frame of reference of what can be safely transported in the bed of my pickup, light, easily mounted and unmounted, inexpensive, and — as it turns out — a surprisingly good performer.
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ICOM IC 7300 Transceiver Review

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The

IC-7300

IC-7300

ICOM IC 7300 marks an important inflection point for the “big three” amateur radio manufacturers: The beginning of true software-defined RF processing from one end to the other.

As the first full SDR transceiver from “the big guys”, it is interesting to consider the price point, feature set, and performance both in light of the legacy analog designs, and as compared to what SDRs are known to be capable of.
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AI vs. LDNLS

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Low Dimensional Neural-Like Solutions — LDNLS. LDNLS is epitomized by NN (Neural Net) and/or algorithmic solutions which solve only extremely narrow, but often deep, problems such as play go; guide a vehicle in well-constrained environments; play chess; recognize speech; colorize images and so on. I coined the terminology LDNLS specifically to serve as a way to draw a very specific, very important distinction that illustrates what intelligence is not.
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AI – Just how close are we in 2016?

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Many like to try to guess at how long it will take to develop artificial intelligence. Like many in the field, I have my own ideas about it. I don’t think guesses that look at evolution as found in nature in order to apply those time scales to our own efforts are worthy. What follows is why I think that is the case.

Here’s the thing. Evolution in the sense most are familiar with it is basically a biological hardware development process. It took a long time for nature to produce the right computing hardware using that process. In the current “version” of humanity, consciousness arises automatically upon input and organization of enough data. That’s very good hardware from the perspective of consciousness or no consciousness.

With computer hardware, however, the odds are excellent that the hardware is already more than sufficient. If that’s the case, then we’re just dealing with one last step, which is strictly based on varying software.
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SdrDx 2.16a for OS X and Windows

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Here we go:
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Some OS X DHCP Esoterica

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Because I develop Software Defined Radio (SDR) software, I have occasion to connect, and disconnect, various network devices to my wired network in order to test them all day long. Most of the SDRs are designed to configure using DHCP, or can be convinced to do so. That saves some fooling around, and is a good thing. However, my network is extensive, devices are always being moved around, WiFi devices arriving and leaving, and so once the SDRs are assigned an IP, I have to go hunt them down. It was annoying that they’re always showing up somewhere different.

However, my Mac Pro had an unused second ethernet port sitting. right. there. Hmmm. So…
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