Category Archives: Society

Our smart phones are crippled by service provider prisons

I just watched a good talk by Alec Muffet about how our smart phones are amazing computers, but that we are being kept prisoners inside walled gardens by our mobile providers and prevented from having full internet connectivity.

You and Your Phone are Huge Threats to the Net #security #privacy #tor #dns 
“This is the talk I presented at Reading Geek Night 27 on Jan 10th; the theme was the power of mobile computing and of real networking, and of how NAT, IPv4, DNS, and the typical provision of network a…”

I keep thinking since I heard Eben Moglen talk about the #FreedomBox at an Internet Society conference in NY, that we need a #FreedomPhone movement.  A first step might be to support a mobile phone manufacturer that attempts to build a more open-friendly phone like the GeeksPhone

Another step would be to increase demand for the WiMAX (4G wireless broadband) open protocols in the phone (LTE is also 4G but is created by existing wireless providers) and start putting up these towers in communities, possibly with the option of acting as a roaming tower for existing phone providers that use WiMAX (Sprint here in the States). This could be done as a for-profit venture, getting smaller communities on 4G while at the same time enabling local community information freedom.  One selling point would be that a local community could communicate wirelessly with its self for free, or outside for a small nominal VOIP level rate like $0.01/minute.

The technology is converging on VOIP everywhere, which is just voice sent over internet data packets. I think existing voice providers is transforming to walled garden internet service providers (AOL style), which is also why they’re selling these amazing handheld computers that can’t act as standalone internet peers.  “Freedom” 4G (WiMAX / LTE) towers that would allow being a peer on the internet, and pressure put on the existing providers by the users would be steps in the right direction.

I think for pressure to be brought by users, there would need to be a compelling use case, “meme,” or app that would make users want it enough to bug their providers for it, or more likely, to ditch their “providers” for the Freedom alternative.  I’m not sure what this game changing meme might be for others, but for me it would be a personal social networking node (Diaspora) running on the phone, with private and secure P2P text, voice, and video,  including a legacy “phone number” for connecting to land lines, mobile phone prisoners, etc.  This phone would then sync to my FreedomBox at my home for keeping my data secure in case my phone is stolen or lost.  I could also use the home box for converting the VOIP to a legacy land line “phone call,” or a VOIP provider (like voip.ms) could be used for $0.01/minute.   In all these situations, the wireless and land services are just barebones internet providers, utilities essentially, whether by a corporation or a local community.

US Notes and Reforming the Money System

This post is a response to a friend who suggested that JFK fought the Fed by printing US Notes:

My understanding is that US Notes were in circulation from 1862 until they were retired in 1971. There was a printing in 1963, but also in 1953 and 1928, in order to maintain the quantity already in circulation. There’s no evidence I’ve found that JFK directly attempted to increase the amount in circulation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Note)

As I understand it, and I have looked at the balance sheet of the Fed to verify it (http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/rptcongress/annual07/sec2/c3.htm#nl7), any interest that the Fed gets from the bonds backing the FRNs above its operating costs is returned to the Treasury. The main source of the compounding US Government debt is not from the Fed printing the notes, or even holding the bonds backing them. Rather it’s that the US Government is printing interest-bearing bonds to cover its operating costs and selling them on the open market to foreign and global banks, foreign central banks, used for reserves, etc. The responsibility lies with the US Government; it’s not a Fed problem. There is however the complicating factor that the Fed sets the interest rates.

In my opinion, just getting rid of the Fed doesn’t address the core problem, which is that the US Gov is using bonds to pay for its budget, and requiring interest bearing notes as banking reserves. The most intelligent reform I’ve seen is http://nesara.org/ which suggests and offers a bill that uses a basket of interest-free US Notes and some gold/silver as the backbone of the economy. It would also change lending laws to remove compound interest from loans, only allowing fees to cover the actual costs of lending. This would basically change the banking and finance system into a highly regulated public utility, which I think it should be.  This is “our” money system after all.

Community

In a conversation with a friend this morning, the topic of watching TV shows came up.  My friend felt a but bad about watching shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Lost, feeling like it was wasting time that could be used for walking in the woods, or reading a book.  My response was that I think these TV shows serve the purpose of including us in the daily dramas of a community.  We desire to watch these shows when we’re desiring more of a sense of beng a part of a community, which includes all these little sub stories and character dramas that we get from TV shows.

This is similar to my view of films, which are our modern equivalent of the tribal oral story teller.  We evolved over countless ages with myths, legends, and stories, all told orally.  Today, we are missing that, and in its place, we have film.  Film offers us our creation myths, our social teachings, a sense of who we are within our society, role models, a guiding principles.

Cash is for SAPS

Status, Access, Power, Stuff

It’s what customers really want, in that order. And this list is also prioritized by “most sticky” and “cheapest to fulfill”.

via Cash is for SAPS | Gamification Blog.

When I read the above, I had a nebulus queezy feeling arise in my stomach.  “Does it really boil down to that?”  Can our collective Id be defined by SAPS?  The article is explaining that in marketing a product to a customer, one needs to realize that those should be the priorities, rather than focusing too much on some kind of cash or “stuff”-based incentive.  I thought to my self that the SAPS model is to “stuff” what my intuition is telling me that my deeper, more universal priorities are to “status”.  Well, if that’s true, I asked my self, then what would I label my top driving motivations in life?  Off the top of my head I came up with: Beauty, Esteem, Excellence, Empathy, Enlightenment, or BEEEE…  That list could probably be shortened to Beauty and Empathy (BE.)

Ha, sounds kinda like hoky new agey spiritual BS, doesn’t it? It does even a bit to me, and yet those are the first labels that came to my mind for my top drivers.  Now, to clarify, the article is talking about priorities in the context of customers in relationship with a commercial marketer, whereas I’m talking about self in relation to Self.  There’s a big difference between these paradigms…. or is there?

In one sense the commercial context is rooted in an existing economic paradigm based on competition within a field of scarcity.  As we humans are creatures of Nature, we will vie with each other for scarce resources in order to survive and be as successful as possible, Naturally (*).  When there is excessive competition, the priorities of SAPS most definitely become uppermost.

As a contrast, people who live within indigenous cultures that have existed on this earth sustainably for countless ages have a very different set of drivers.  It’s difficult for me to define, being that I’m a member of modern society.  But based on a combination of my own intuition and reading about their world view, it seems to me that their drivers are more about caring for each other, having a sense of belonging to the tribe and the landl, having freedom to be as one needs to, and being surrounded with an abundant and nourishing environment that offers everything one needs to live.

On the face of it, the indigenous culture agenda seems like a very different set of priorities than the SAPS model, but ironically each of the 4 descriptions of that view can be interpreted fairly directly by one of status, access, power, and stuff.  However, there’s still a huge difference.  What is it?

To be continued …

* For some, this might not be a given, at least when worded like that, such as to people who view serving others and one’s community as being as much if not more important than serving one’s self.  Well, it can be easily argued that serving others is in fact better for one’s self, when it is collectively reciprocated in the form of the universal Golden Rule.