Saturday, June 23, 2007

In Case You Care, Your Freedom Is In Peril

In case you still like to vote (I'm not getting into the debate about the futility of voting), you might want that vote to be counted. You remember that line about those who don't remember their history are doomed to repeat it? Here's a little food for thought:

For the benefit of those among us that went to public school (I went to public school, but learned history on my own) and may have missed this little nugget of reality, that's a cartoon of William M. "Boss" Tweed. If ever there was a patriarch of modern power manipulation, he's got to be it. He realized that the votes don't matter- the COUNTING of the votes matters. Read all about him and Tammany Hall here.

Fast forward almost 150 years to today, and we see a company called Diebold now being contracted to run some elections. Incidentally, is there nothing in a society that SHOULDN'T be privatized? They have an electronic system that counts votes. Great- right? Who doesn't like efficiency? Well... Here's where the problems begin. The software that controls these vote counting systems is copy-written and secret. You can't review the code. Fuck only knows what the instructions are really doing. They know the history of Tammany Hall, and are gaining ground on the control over vote counting.

The "news" organizations are feeding you all the Paris Hilton, Anna Nichole Smith, and TB-guy "news" you can lap up like good little proles. They exist, not to inform, but to keep you frightened and afraid. Turn them off and read, and then research. Don't take things at face value. Insist on sources, not opinion. Insist on proof. From me too.

There is a fellow who I first started paying attention to in the context of Information Systems Security and encryption. I'd been in IT for a while, but in a real general manner- learning whatever came my way, but not making much of an effort to refine my interests. Then I read Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and an interest was sparked. Stephenson's Cryptonomicon is fiction, but referred to real places and some real people- this guy among them. His name is Bruce Schneier and his writings are well worth reading, even for those outside of technology circles or interests. He has spent a lot of time on the Diebold issue, and was where I first heard about the impossibly easy ways to change the count on these systems. Have a look for yourselves

So, in the spirit of re-kindling ACTUAL patriotism (you know- the kind where you actually give a shit about the health of the nation and its inhabitants- not just wearing a damned flag lapel pin and saying jingoistic, belligerent, idiotic, and offensive things like "we're the greatest nation on Earth"), I encourage one and all (overseas readers as well) to turn off the "news" and vet the editorialism you hear, and think about how we can make sure our voices are heard- no matter your ideology or leanings.



Blogger Lexcen said...

Very interesting.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Vulgar Wizard said...


4:26 PM  
Blogger mrschili said...

Yeah - that's a little skill I like to call "critical thinking," and not enough people do it these days...

Thanks for the exhortation; keep 'em coming...

7:31 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

i have a feeling i don't want to know what diebold can do. i already despair of any of us, collectively or alone, bringing down big brother.

what i especially like is that when i vote by mail using an advanced ballot, i have to sign it. therefore, the powers that be know how i've voted. one day i fully expect to be arrested or audited by the IRS or whatever for the way i vote.

viva la revolucion!!

1:18 PM  

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