Thursday, April 17, 2014
  Privacy by design?

Rather nice article on BBC's website. Clear and correct discussion of those 'Numbers Stations' that every radio ham and SWL has heard for 50 years. Especially clear and correct on the basic concepts of privacy, which are rarely understood today.
"In the same way spy tricks such as pretending to feed ducks around a pond might still exist, numbers stations still exist too," says Al Bolton, a radio amateur. "It is an old-fashioned means of communication but you have to think of security." "The danger with a computer is that if you get caught, the data on it is still retrievable. Whereas with a one-time pad, you can eat it or flush it down the toilet," he says. Computers almost always leave traces, whereas a paper and a pen are easy to destroy.
If you want privacy, don't communicate in public. Basic. Simple. True in 2014 BC, still true in 2014 AD. Nothing has changed. The deeply strange thing about 2014 AD is that so many millions of smart people have convinced themselves that computers and the Web are a private place. So many otherwise well-informed people were genuinely shocked by Snowden's stuff. Nobody should have been shocked. NSA didn't hide the fact that it created the Web for its own needs, and NSA didn't hide the fact that it has always monitored EVERY FUCKING THING within its reach. DO NOT INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE.

= = = = =

Okay, sorry. Old rant. I've been there before. I'm in a ranting mood today. Publisher is getting all NYC-pushy, changing rules in midstream, and I need to put the frustration somewhere.

Here's what I was meaning to say, before I so rudely Touretted myself:

Unlike the Web, radio doesn't leave a trail of packets behind. It doesn't have to pass through an infrastructure controlled by NSA. The Schrödinger notion, which does not apply to reality in general, does apply to radio. If you can hear a signal, you can record it and transcribe it. If nobody hears a signal, or nobody realizes that it is a signal worth transcribing, it practically doesn't exist. Just another tiny set of "random" wiggles in the magnetic field, here for a moment then completely gone.

Shortwave radio is uniquely suited for privacy. Ionospheric skip is unpredictable. Sometimes it's there, sometimes not. When it's there, it takes a signal up into the top layers of the atmosphere, where it can't be monitored for most of its path, then bounces it back down. In practice it's almost like teleportation. Most people in between sender and receiver can't reach the signal.

= = = = =

Just for fun, let's bring in the Grand Blueprint. Flowers exist because bees like color and smell. Why do bees like color and smell if there are no flowers? After you ask enough of these questions, you reach God through purely scientific reasoning. All of these likings and needs and purposes were designed to fit together, and each critter was left to find its own way of satisfying them. No other conclusion possible.

Apply this to the ionosphere. We know it already existed before we started playing with electricity; the earliest experimenters noticed that their circuits were doing strange things when the Northern Lights were hissing and burbling above.

Later, after we started transmitting in the range between 5 and 50 MC, we charted the ionosphere's strange habits. We understand it about as well as we understand weather. We generally know which frequencies are likely to skip best at which times of day and which seasons, but we still can't predict the detailed movements and changes of the bouncy layers.

Just recently, because we finally removed the blinders of idiot theories, we've started seeing the Biosphere. Bacteria and fungi are active in all layers of the atmosphere and ground. No matter how high or deep we look, we find life.

Plants and bacteria drink charged particles. They send out needles and wires to pick up ions. Life likes information. Life loves rhythm and patterns.


Sorry, Danbo. You're made of the same stuff as the tree, so there's no charge gradient.

Now some unanswerable questions.

During our years of greatest shortwave activity, roughly 1930 through 1980, were we feeding and fertilizing the ionosphere? Were we helping bacteria to grow stronger atmospheric layers so they could help our communication?

Did the Grand Designer want us to have radio? Did the Designer want us to create a private means of communication? Was the Designer trying to encourage us to send waves outward, so they might reach other planets with other Designed critters?

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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