Power Again – Democracy > Health

>> March 13, 2020

>> Blog Post #40

Power: That which you do not want to let go of.

Follow-up to yesterday’s post.

France just changed the rules. The situation is more dire than it was before. Let’s pick another random number and now say that all gatherings of more than 100 people are banned in our fight for Corona Virus.

Exceptional situations warrant exceptional measures. All schools will be closed until further notice. 12 million students, out of a total population of 67 million people will have to stay home.

Where this really gets ridiculous is that municipal elections will be maintained this weekend, all in the name of democracy, as more than 45 million French people are invited to come and gather in their townhalls to vote.

Meanwhile in America Trump leads the way. To fight the virus all you have to do is shake hands with corporate America. No better time to make money than when people’s lives are at risk.

A sick “democracy” must be better than a healthy world. Or maybe only the economy needs to be healthy.


>> March 12, 2020

>> Blog Post #39

Power: That which you do not want to let go of.

France just passed a law last week making it illegal to organize any gathering of more than 1,000 people because of the Corona Virus outbreak.

The goal is plain and simple, try to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible.

My first reaction was to wonder how they had come up with this number. Seems almost random. Actually, I’m fairly sure it is just as random as anything else. How does a group as large as 1,000 people help prevent exponential growth? What are the economic numbers that would make cancelling gatherings of 500 or 893 people to difficult?

In any case, the reaction was fairly logical, at least in my books. Most events that I know of or have heard about since then have been cancelled. Garage sales, school reunions etc., except for something very specific.

Political meetings. It is election season in France, with all French municipalities voting in a few weeks for their mayors. Apparently, who gets elected in places like Paris are more important than curbing the spread of the virus as they tried to pack their meetings over the weekend by limiting the number of attendees to just under 1000 people. Here, let’s organize a meeting of 999 people, we are complying with the law. Now please vote for me because I’m a responsible person who should take all sorts of decisions with the powers you grant me…. That tells you a lot about the consideration politicians have for their fellow compatriots, but no one seems to say anything about it. I think these politicians should just go fuck themselves.

Now let’s turn our eyes to Russia for a second. The Parliament just passed a bill that would enable Vlad Putin, to potentially stay in office until 2036! Hey, when something in the law isn’t to your advantage, just change it. Why would you ever want to surrender your power?

Fortunately, some opponents decided to hold rallies to protest these rule changes that seem to come from another age, but… those rallies were not authorized because of the risk of contamination due to the corona virus…. The irony….

No here I am today, wondering what I should think about the risks to me and my family, friends, loved ones, when some many people, countries, governments are taking very different approaches to the pandemic risk. The only thing I know for sure is that I shouldn’t base any of my decisions on the laws that politicians pass as they have nothing to do with what is right for people and everything to do with their own very personal agendas.

Changes, Cycles and Recognizing Your Role In Them

>> March 2, 2020

>> Blog Post #33

I believe in come kind of flux, of cycle. Vicious cycles, virtuous cycles. Nothing is uniform. Like Taleb’s majority and minority rules. Who comes up on top under different scenarios?

I can very well imagine a small committed intolerant group coming out on top in trying to build a new world, a better world, because we’ve reached certain limits in the old world, and people have just had enough of it.

You can get a lot of support from these people. A small minority can be successful in putting a new system in place. And it can have great success. But like any other system, it will evolve across generations. Systems eventually get rigged. Systems, like security, are a process – not a state. They are an incessant combat. Eventually unhappiness and resentment grow, and the system fails or gets overthrown.

Now my hope is that we are nearing the end of a bad system, or maybe one that we should characterize as having started out for good reasons but that gradually turned bad. We want to change that bad system into a good one, knowing very well that it might fail, and also knowing that even if it is successful at first, it will most probably end up failing in the long run.

But that might not be our battle to fight. Each generation needs their own battles. Sometimes the 1st battle is realizing you have one and it falls on you to fight.

Know You are the Target – KYT

>> February 24, 2020

>> Blog Post #30

KYC rules have been around for a while. You probably feel that you have more or less always known them, if you are under 40 years old. But KYC is pretty much a product of the 21st century. And a few recent decades of the internet have turned it into a FAT set of data.

Names, birthdays, addresses, social security numbers, etc.…. the amount of data collected on an increasingly large population is staggering.

The fact that some companies have specialized in this field has created champions, corporations that collect highly personal data of millions of individuals.

I am pretty sure that a lot of processes could be conducted without KYC, as I personally fail to believe that AML/KYC laws do any good at all and that the rhetoric of it being useful to fight against terrorism is nothing more than a lie.

But this data is of great interest to thieves and having it all handled and protected by centralized companies is a recipe for disaster when they are breached, and they all end up being breached….

These breaches are getting bigger and bigger. The organizations behind the attacks are often state sponsored as we just learned in the Equifax breach.

This will not end well. It is time people started looking at KYC / AML regulations as a major attack vector against innocent individuals.

Opt Out

>> January 9, 2020

>> Blog Post #9

It’s time to make a push.

Make a stand, be heard, push the boundaries, create space for the future you want for others & yourself and are committed to building.

I’ve had a strange feeling this year. I’ve felt that I knew the answer to a question while having very strong doubts about the answer at the same time. I don’t know if it’s intuition versus caution (my system 1 vs system 2 struggle that I introduced here) or only that I probably need to think about it more and have more of a game plan.

“Opt Out” – messages that are as simple and as loaded as this one are so powerful.

I have been attending a fascinating conference for a few years. It is called the Hackers Conference Paralelni Polis or HCPP. The Institute of Cryptoanarchy, Paralelni Polis, is a hacker space that was created a few years ago by hackers, artists and activists in downtown Prague. (this my very approximative description – don’t shoot me). Anyway! It’s a place that promotes and encourages freedom, experimentation and activism.

Each and every year the HCPP conference brings together a very committed crowd of people of all horizons that probably only share their wish for freedom. There are talks, workshops, parties for a few days (and it’s the only conference that is smart enough to have NO morning events – just saying) and each conference is held under a specific yearly theme.

Opt Out

This year’s theme – Opt Out – immediately hit a nerve. It’s probably the best theme they ever chose. No! It IS the best theme they ever chose. (2018 – “New Order”, 2017 – “Liberate”, 2016 “Decentralized” for some examples).

Opting out, is choosing to withdraw yourself from a situation, an environment that is not suitable for you. For people like myself, who have become convinced over the past few years that the way our current systems, countries, governments work is morally unethical and unacceptable, opting out is an evidence. I have already slowly taken some steps that remove me from the daily control that was exerted on me although I had never approved it. Yet, there is further to go.

Opting out is therefore exercising your free will, reclaiming some liberty. But it is also deepening your knowledge about just how much you had unknowingly accepted or taken for granted and embarking on a lifelong journey.

But at some point, you wonder what there is to build, or at least I do. Removing yourself from one world doesn’t mean you need to abandon everything. It means you want it differently. And what does not exist in a format you can accept; you have to build another way. My gut feeling is that next year, or maybe further down the road, HCPP will choose a slogan that will capture the essence of what there is to build and how to build it with others.

Opting out doesn’t mean being by yourself. Opting out means you care about certain values, that might be more important than comfort or material things. It does not in any case mean you do not want to build relationships and a society with others who share those.

So, the question is how small is this crowd that you will be building with. Is it small and in need or remaining “underground” or is it an early manifestation of the street getting ready for a change of scenery?

I will reserve my answer as I ponder a little more.