Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nothing to Hide - Secrecy & Privacy by Louis Evan Palmer

The apparent struggle between privacy and secrecy is one of the trickest of knots to undo for a democracy. Paradoxically, as the demand and mechanisms for more secrecy (or government and corporate "privacy") increases, there is a corresponding argument and pressure to decrease personal privacy.

Ultimately, all secrets come down to individuals because it's individuals who identify what's secret and what's not, individuals who record and categorize the data, individuals who must interpret and act on various data and secrets.

We can classify privacy as concerned with secrets about an identifiable person or persons (usually related or associated in some way such as a family). Therefore, data which identifies a person is personal data; data which identifies a person and which is not data that would normally be available to a stranger or which can be used against that person and about which they would typically be guarded is private data, sensitive information. In this proposition, all private data is personal but not all personal data is sensitive.

Privacy laws vary among countries. Currently, Canada's and Germany's Privacy laws are the strongest in the world. In Canada, any data about an identifiable person is under the purview of the Privacy law with the due care required dependent on the sensitivity of the data.

Governments and corporations are not persons. What they do should largely be in the open whether or not they issue shares or borrow public money. Their secrets should have to do with products, possibly services, which would be rendered worthless or signficantly less profitable if known. Their secrecy needs must not contravene any laws. They must not impinge on any individual's privacy except as allowed by law. Persons should not be permitted to trade away their privacy in the same way that selling organs is not legal. It should not be permitted for any organization to have secret members or secret agendas or constitutions. National Security should be strictly defined and managed so that it is not abused and allowed to become a reservoir for illegal or questionable projects and activities and the unlawful collection and use of personal data.

A salient question surrounds the use of private data: is it generally used in a negative way? does it typically result in a sanction or limit on the designated person? The answer to both questions is "Yes". This is why privacy is important to individuals - the release of private information to the public, including government agencies, typically has a negative impact on the person in question regardless of the information.

When private data is collected, it is analysed by other persons. They may be well qualified, they may not. They may be independent and impartial, they may not. They may make correct deductions or they may make poor deductions. The decisions that flow from these actions, may be justified, may be legal, or they may not. This is especially critical when this data might be DNA data about which more and more conclusions are being drawn.

The video called "Nothing to Hide" provides some insight into this dilemma.
It focuses on what is one of the most common of the pretexts for invading a person's privacy - "nothing to hide" as in "I have nothing to hide" or "If you have nothing to hide". The fallacy of this statement is that there is a difference between wanting to hide something with its implication of shame or wrong-doing and not wanting various private things about you becoming available to any and all, fodder for the public or for various alphabet agencies here and around the world.

This also intrudes on the debate between who is a public person versus who is a private person and whether public persons are entitled to any privacy.

"Keeping something private" is not the same as "wanting to hide something". The only aspect of "hide" that should normally concern us is where there is suspicion of illegality and then the rule of law takes over and we must have reasonable grounds, etc. etc.

Open-ended data collection, unsupervised intrusions into the lives of private persons, acting on flimsy proof or unwarranted deductions has all the trappings of a police state or a corporate state.

There is incalculable loss for society in exchanging freedom and democracy for security. In what cause was the security required if not democracy? If that's lost, the security is almost worthless because it can evaporate for any given individual in a twinkling - in a long as it takes some bureaucrat to take exception to something on your profile.

Nothing to Hide - Secrecy & Privacy, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Creating Imperial America by Louis Evan Palmer

When an organization is created that is based on secrecy & power and it is given the resources to become established and develop connections and expertise, there will always be a point when it realizes that it is above the law.

At a certain point in its evolution, the organization gets an exemption to the law and that proceeds from being a rarity to being a commonplace. People who think they're smarter or better than other people decide that they will make the decisions and they discover that their secrets are inviolate because who will surveil the surveillors? This happens in all places throughout history because it's an integral part of an imperfect human psyche.

They become solidified and toxic to democracy or any authentic power-sharing when they acquire their own sources of funding and income. They understand that there is ultimately no difference between an intelligence service and a criminal syndicate. The dirty detestable thing is that there is some valid work being done by duped agents who toil away at trying to protect their nation but the real work is about the pullers of levers at the top and those two steps back in the shadows. Prattle about democracy and liberty is a necessary delusion and cover but the reality is about issuing orders and obeying orders and making decisions for other people and taking whatever is desired.

Who's going to know?

Creating Imperial America, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Initiation of the "People Know" Campaign by Louis Evan Palmer

There are any number of crimes being committed as we speak and for every one of them, "People Know". We need people to go public about them. There are some programs like Crime Stoppers which are effective in their limited ways but they are not enough to get at the hidden rot in our society.

The "People Know" campaign will. It is aimed at bigger crimes - crimes which wrap themselves in conspiracies and violence and fear. It's important to remember that even for these bigger, more organized crimes, "People Know".

For example, human trafficking is going on world-wide. We think of it as only in third-world countries but, in fact, it's going on in every country and "People Know". We need a forum in which these people can speak up.

Bribery and corruption are massive problems and issues. Again, "People Know". If people can be given the venue in which to make revelations, some format, these crimes against humanity & society can be exposed, contained and eventually greatly reduced.

The venue of choice is the internet and wireless. The recommendation is to use anonymous ids or pseudonyms. Post to forums and blogs. Use "People Know" as a tag to identify the message purpose and that it's part of the "People Know" Campaign against Lies and Injustice. Do not post data that could identify you as the source but do include data that can be used to identify the perpetrators and collaborators - things like licence plate numbers. Do not post data that breaks any laws.

Areas that merit special attention as crime hubs are transportation and communications centers such as harbours or airports.

The word "crime" is a wide-ranging term. It can refer to any person or group. No-one has, or should have in a free society, a legal exemption to commit crimes - especially crimes against the person. Therefore, anyone engaging in that type of criminal activity should be exposed and brought to justice along with all planners, logisticians, financiers and other team members.

Not to be forgotten, disreputable activity that is done right out in the open. Check your politician's voting record. See if there's a pattern of support or opposition and if it's related to conflicts of interest of which you're aware. Some of the malfeasance you'll know about will be the result of research and deduction. That is also part of the "People Know" Campaign.

Initiation of the "People Know" Campaign, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Suffering in all its Forms by Louis Evan Palmer

If we want a guiding principle, it seems that directing ourselves to the reduction and elimination of suffering will lead us eventually to a kind of paradise. It's similar to having compassion for all creatures. It's similar to "love your neighbour as yourself" or "do unto others..". However, it has an advantage in that it has more of an orientation to action. It pushes us to look at suffering and try to see its causes and remedies and then asks us to act.

We'd want to state that not everything that may be construed as suffering would be under the force of this directive: for example, some learning might be considered as suffering but if the lesson is valuable and the suffering is temporary; pain, in and of itself, is not necessarily suffering if it's short-lived and it doesn't result in permanent damage.

Suffering has some longevity to it, some continuity. In some instances, it carries a whiff of confusion or bewilderment. In other instances, it has a tinge of despair or futility to it. The loss of hope sometimes sharpens the suffering. The loss of hope sometimes lessens the suffering.

Suffering should evoke empathy, it should make us want to help. In its widest sense, it would include animals and nature.

According to the Buddha, the source of human suffering is delusion epitomized by desire and the notion of self. Therefore, the truest task towards the elimination of suffering is self-knowledge. This gives rise to compassion and acts of mercy and aid. We can also approach it from the other side - we can perform the acts of mercy and aid even in our unenlightened state and by doing so bring ourselves closer to that state as in enlightened does as enlightened is.

The reduction and elimination of suffering leads us to good stewardship of nature, to vegetarianism, to peace, to right living and livelihood. It does bring us face-to-face with spiritual laws and if we accept them or want to follow them. It does force us into the unpleasant calculus of the greatest good for the greatest number and accepting some suffering against greater suffering, or accepting some suffering against violation of a spiritual law and what we feel would be the certainty of greater future suffering. It makes us address deluded suffering brought on by things like consumerism or greed but with compassion and an appropriate gentleness.

Suffering in all its Forms, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Disobeying Unlawful Orders in a War Zone by Louis Evan Palmer

Helmut Oberlander was initially accused of committing war crimes. Now the federal government's case against him rests on false statements on his entry application. This is one proceeding of many which points to the larger issue of following orders and the responsibilities of those issuing and those following any given order.

It is important for society to give direction as to what an individual is to do when faced with orders that are unlawful. It is fine to admonish one to not execute an unlawful order but how exactly is that to be accomplished? Unless there is a straight-forward, somewhat safe, process then it will be difficult for a soldier in the field under duress to resist or to even know how to resist.

There is also the issue of relativity. While we'd like to have constants, it will prove to be impossible to expect any given person to act a certain way under all circumstances. The impact of an order, its force of compulsion, depends on many factors. One factor is who is issuing the order. There is no doubt that an order given by a General carries more weight than an order given by a Lieutenant. We will find it more difficult to disobey a General's order than a Lieutenant. A nineteen-old private will find it more difficult to disobey an order than a thirty-old Sergeant.

The facts will probably confirm that it is easier to disobey an order that involves a petty criminal act such as stealing than an order to fire into a crowd of civilians. The aura of threat and risk protects the soldiers acting in a violent way but those who are stealing have no such cover.

The scope of the apparatus that is issuing unlawful orders is also a factor. If many branches of government are involved, or entire branches including the enforcement units, then it becomes very hard to not comply. This includes a compromise of the news and broadcasting mediums. In effect, entire branches of government and/or society become criminal enterprises.

In a war situation, the way the war is going for a given side affects how they act, what orders are issued and how they are carried out. When the losing side anticipates outside justice, they will either become more vindictive and brutal or more accomodating and dutiful. The victorious side on the other hand is rarely magnanimous, the urge to abuse power is almost overwhelming, the chance of prosecution practically nil.

You're in the field, you reading these words, you're given an order to blow up a farmhouse which you're sure has civilians in it. Your unit is under fire from nearby woods. What do you do?

It is a good bet that you're thinking about your chances of surviving disobedience. You may get shot right away. In the Soviet Army, many were shot for disobeying an order, for not advancing rigourously enough, etc.. Even if you got away somehow, your chances of discovery could be high if there are many other units in the area. If you're lucky and end up in jail, you may not make it back from the front lines. Your reputation with your comrades will be shredded. Maybe not.

Imagine you are Helmut Oberlander. You are seventeen. War has engulfed your country and all the countries around you. At this point, Germany is victorious. You are separated from your family. You are ordered to work as an intepreter. You are taken from your home. You know very little about war. You have not trained as a soldier. According to society and the directive to not obey an unlawful order, what should you have done?

Run away? Can you survive in the woods? How many people can do that before it becomes impractical, before you become too easy to track down?

If you were a soldier, can you deliberately miss the people you're supposed to shoot?

Perhaps, the best you can hope for is little victories here and there. Or, are we asking for suicide? It is hard question as to how many lives are worth you're own. The difference between innocent deaths and justified kills.

Part of the answer must be to avoid war. Another part of the answer is only use non-lethal weapons and to only fight in defense of your country. Because once you've entered the maw of death and destruction that is war, you'll never know what you can do and what you can't.

Disobeying Unlawful Orders in a War Zone, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


When the Opposite Makes More Sense by Louis Evan Palmer

When headlines offer pronostications or couched opinions or supposedly unbiased evaluations, we have probably reached the point in the continuing deformation of society where its meaning in actuality is the opposite of what it purports.

Say a given headline reads "US searches for peace in the Middle East". In today's world, we come to realize that what it really says is "US searches for control in the Middle East". Perhaps not quite the opposite but in that direction. In other cases, like Iran for example, our headline would read "US seeks negoiated solution to Iran problem" but the real headline as played out in Pentagon war-gaming rooms is "US plans for war against Iran".

More headlines true and false, which do you believe:

"Britain to leave Iraq" or "Britain to hide continued operations in Iraq".
"Syria implicated in Hariri assassination" or "False Flag operation seeks to implicate Syria in Hariri assassination".

"New US federal plan hopes to educate every child" or "New US federal plan hopes to brainwash every child".

Real education is extremely dangerous and should be done away with via menial mind-numbing jobs for human rats-in-a-maze living hand-to-mouth or only given to carefully selected individuals who are to serve as future wardens, guards and slave-catchers.

The half-truth headline reads "US Government admits to 'losing' 2 or 3 Trillion dollars" - then we can reliably assume it's much worse and should read" "US Government is vast web of corruption - tens of trillions stolen and absconded with annually".

Or, "CIA, CSIS & MI6 protect their countries by spying on foreigners" when the it should really read: "CIA, CSIS & MI6 control their countries by spying on their own citizens". They may catch a few unintended foreigners here and there but the main catch is those who might intefere with their agenda.

It can go on and on. Try it, take any Headline that offers a prediction, an evaluation, an alleged statement of fact, or an opinion presented as a fact and turn it around. You'll likely be closer to the Truth than you imagined.

When the Opposite Makes More Sense, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


Friday, June 15, 2007

The Crafty Conference Board of Canada by Louis Evan Palmer

Anne Golden, CEO of The Conference Board of Canada, or CBoC, has managed to get her group's latest "study" quoted in all the Canadian mass media again. This time it's about Canadian mediocrity. The details are almost irrelevant because CBoC seems to only serve as a mouthpiece for the wealthy and everything it publishes is towards that end.

Somehow CBoC has placed the United States fourth in their rating tucked in between socialist countries like Sweden and Germany. In fact, the seventeen nations listed are all socialist except for the US.

Since CBoC is usually a propaganda arm for the US and its stealth takeover of Canada, let's focus on their fourth place showing but from a public relations pespective. CBoC couldn't have put the USA higher than fourth because that would have been a place, show or win position and it would have been unbelievable. The highest CBoC could have placed the US without undue negative comment is where they did - fourth.

Wealth creation through innovation & invention is as often an article of faith as it is a proveable fact. That reckoning rarely accounts for the impoverishment of others or the environment. It doesn't talk about the use of war-based industries and war itself to create "wealth" or "excellence" for the few or its morality.

It doesn't mention that many of the statistics used to measure prosperity disguise the huge, unjustified and unsustainable disparities in income and possessions among the population. Or, the massive theft and espionage that is employed constantly to steal new technology or to seal the "deals" that help entrench it. The hidden and not-so hidden subsidies that pour out of what's left of middle class America into corporations and the pirate CEOs and crew that are running them into the ground while rifling through their cash.

Let's protest & stand on guard against the use of right-wing studies and quotes in the mass media unless counter-balanced by left-wing quotes and studies and replies. It really is impossible to get away from these labels in the current political climate.

The Crafty Conference Board of Canada, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Trans-Canada Wilderness Network by Louis Evan Palmer

Islands can be a stifling environment as prone to developing vulnerable and overly specialized creatures as beautiful and unique ones. Islands often suffer from a deficit of resources and the stultifying effect of too little space. We have created islands for our wildlife which are as limiting and ultimately dangerous to them as any pollution or over-trapping or over-hunting.

Our big predators in particular need large tracts of land upon which to roam. The loss or diminishment of the big predators leads to an over-population of their prey which generally stresses the habitat and other species. A wilderness network would also allow all species and population groups to move around and intermingle.

Let's press our government to create a Trans-Canada Wilderness Network for our wildlife. This can be laid down quickly in the less populated northern areas where existing parks can be joined to form large wilderness networks. We need to make the Wilderness Network a land, water & airway for all our creatures. This would lead us to banning lights, motorized vehicles, development, even people in most cases.

This would eventually join up with a southern Wilderness version of the Trans-Canada Trail - perhaps a Wilderness Network that would parallel the Trail in the south with linkages to the northern Wilderness Network.

For the southern component, we can develop cheap, fast, environmentally sound ways of going under and over roads to join every kind of urban and suburban greenspace so our wild friends can move about in safety and have a healthier, better life. This can be for both the Wilderness Network and the Trail.

This is an effort worth doing. Our wildlife deserves a better habitat than we are currently providing. We have to give them back more of what they had before we came. What they need. What they were given by a greater power than ourselves.

The Trans-Canada Wilderness Network, The Way It Can Be,, Louis Evan Palmer
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beyond Comprehension by Louis Evan Palmer

Beyond in the sense of beyond any "normal" perception and conception. For example, consider the following extraneous tidbits of knowledge:

  • A muon lives for 2 millionths of a second and then it decays
  • More than 50 trillion solar electron neutrinos pass through the human body every second.
  • The Sun consumes about a 650 million tonnes of fuel (protons) per second
  • It is estimated that the average human adult body contains about 10 trillion cells.
  • In the fully mature human lung, approximately 400 million alveoli provide a gas exchange surface of 100 to 150 m2.
  • The radius of the observable universe is about 47 billion light years.
These are facts that we can only know by extending our ordinary in-the-moment wisdom through mental constructs like mathematics and ingenious fabrications like electron telescopes.

So it seems to suggest that we are extravagantly unprepared to understand our world the way we are. This in turn suggests that we can only progress by advancing in the endeavours of mental constructs and ingenious fabrications or that we have for some unfathomable reason forgone innate abilities and knowledge that would have either answered any questions or rendered them unimportant.

Even things like language, where mathematics & music are special cases, fall into this category.

But is it really these things, these constructs, that have allowed us to gain knowledge? Is it possible that these inventions merely give us something around which to drape other types of knowing?

Taking language for example, we have a given sound for the idea of a "circle" or the number "one" or the concept of "hot". Each language has its own sound(s) for it yet the idea is the same. Is the Chinese "circle" different from the French "circle"? Is it not the idea of a circle that takes precedence and the particular sound we attach to it is secondary?

The amount of fuel the Sun consumes exists for us as the light and heat we feel on a given day or as a string of measurements and meanings that we understand and remember. Either way, it is mediated knowledge three, four or five times removed. It can be translated into a direct interaction in some cases which then validates our abstracted musings and empirical deductions. In other cases, it is firmly ethereal - unproven and unprove-able.

It all seems like an image that appears in a cloud, persists for a short time, and then dissipates; to be replaced in a while with another image. Our mind makes the image and gives it reality but nothing is able to spin it into permanence or make it seem like an answer to anything.

Beyond Comprehension, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.