Human rights and the system

In 1942, there were a 110,000 Japanese American citizens in good standing, law-abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had, “right this way” – into the internment camps. Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most, their government took ’em away. And rights aren’t rights if someone can take ’em away. They’re privileges, that’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter and shorter.

George Carlin

An extension of the class system, societies draw clear lines between people with rights and people without them: Migrants versus citizens, educated versus uneducated, homeless versus homed, convicts versus non-convicts, men versus women, heterosexual vs homosexual, white versus non-white.

Governments create rights so they can meter them out to certain segments of the population, pitting everyone against each other in a vicious competition for civil liberties and economic advantage. So long as everyone has to fight for their place in the world, they’ll have no time or energy to fight the system that creates and enforces these gross inequalities.

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My favorite social network

Few days ago I found honk, my favorite social network. Taking a look at it, it’s just perfect, the way I want all social networks to be.

It’s federated with ActivityPub protocol, has no likes, no faves, no polls, no stars, no claps, no counts. There’s no attention mining in it and it just works to connect people’s postings and thoughts and create a community.

It’s theme and look/feeling may be not desirable and beautiful but since it’s free software, you surely can change its user interface. I’m pretty positive that the original developers will accept contributions to the user interface and/or user experience of it.

The honk mission is to work well with minimal setup and support costs. It’s to spend more time using the software and less time operating it. It currently works well as intended. It’s multi-user, supports many features, and is my favorite social network now. It’s exactly how I wanted social networks to be since years ago.

The developers have a sense of humor too, you know by reading their documentation and intro/README texts, but I hope the whole project is not a joke and they are like-minded people.

Give Amazon and Facebook more power? Human idiocy has no limit whatsoever!

A Bloomberg opinion suggested we give Amazon and Facebook a seat at the United Nations as commercial superpowers so we can force them to behave as we wish to benefit people!

What about no?

First of all, when did UN gain enough power to force anything on any country? What makes you think that an organization that fails to impose any power on its members can do anything about a company based in United States? And why do you think Amazon and Facebook will listen to UN instead of American government? And why the hell would someone think that the U.S. government would let any country enforce its desired behavior on its corporations?

What in earth would make an author write such dumb article to suggest we give some superpowers even more power and yet hope they behave better than before. It’s like giving Mussolini more power and hope he and his ally Adolf behave. Ask six million Jews about it, they have some to say.

They are more powerful than most governments. As the article goes, Walmart Inc. employs roughly the population of Botswana; Microsoft Corp.’s market cap is greater than Brazil’s GDP; FedEx Corp. has five times more planes than Air India Ltd.

So why would someone suggest such idiotic thing? Imagine a UN defense council headed by China, Russia, the U.S., and Zucky Zuck and Bezos. Like, not even joking, haven’t they all shat on developing countries enough as separate entities?

We already have a corporation who have a seat at the UN. The Holy See (i.e. the Catholic Church) has an observer seat at the UN. And hear me out: it’s not the country of Vatican City that has a seat, it’s the Catholic Church in itself, which is just like a massive private entity, not a country. And what did world or UN did about all the rape and child abuse and human rights violation by pedophiles resided in it?

Let’s not forget that Bloomberg is owned by, well, Bloomberg. The twentieth richest person in the world. So no wonder why would a rich person suggest something like this on its controlled media platform. Don’t forget that capitalists know how to exploit people for their own benefit.

Don’t forget how capitalists lobby to appoint their desired politicians in offices, using money and media. You surely know how politicians receive millions of dollars when they’re campaigning for a job. Now we want to put these people in a place where they can have more impact?

It’s not that our politicians are honest, no, it’s about how this idea would make more corruption and puts more power in hands of CEOs and world so-called leaders.

Human idiocy has no limit whatsoever and such articles prove this. It’s so sad that these ideas have a place in large media network and platforms. As much as I’d like to say these ideas won’t take place in reality, history and experience taught me that nothing is impossible when capitalism tries another way to make way for human exploitation.

Double standards

In the series Peaky Blinders season 6, episode two, Tommy Shelby tells Laura McKee “in the Shelby family business comes before issues of vengeance.”

About a week ago, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people in one day, most of them believed to be Shia people and/or opposers to the Saudi regime, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations” and holding “deviant beliefs”.

Since then, I’ve waited to see a single action done by western democracies and those regimes who claim to be concerned about human rights. Not a single useful action were done. I guess business comes before issues of human rights in freedom and human rights fighter regimes.

Few kilometers away from Saudi, Iran is under heavy sanctions for what is claimed to be human rights concerns over its reputation of human rights violation and nuclear program. Now I’m not against forcing a regime to respect humans but it’s the double standards the western countries have that annoys me.

Saudi is a key partner of United States and some European regimes in the region and keeping it happy benefits many countries who need Middle East oil to survive. With Iran under sanctions and other Arab countries under the influence of Saudi, it’s best to keep Salman of Arabia happy.

Same went when Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Saudi’s embassy in Turkey. Nothing happened. No sanction, no relation cut, no powerful action, absolute nothing but some useless statements and waste of paper.

Perhaps western countries’ leaders love to watch Peaky Blinders and have much to learn of it, specially when Tommy teaches them business can come before humans.

Stand against hatred

As we go through the war imposed on Ukraine from Russia’s authoritarian regime, we see more and more idiotic hatred against people of Russia.

Everyday I see more news about sanctions on Russian people and sports teams. Paralympics, football, tennis, motor sports, and lot other fields are now closed on Russian sport people.

I also heard news about an Italian university teaching of Fyodor Dostoevsky because he’s Russian.

Since the start of the war, I put up a banner on top of my site with a “Stand with Ukraine” statement to show my support for Ukrainian people but what is happening now is just dumb.

Russian people are not responsible for what their government does and I feel that in my bones as I too experience sanctions because of actions of my government.

People of Ukraine don’t need Russian people out of tennis courts or football pitch. Ukrainian people also like to read Dostoevsky.

I’m pretty sure nobody in Ukraine will be pleased to hear some innocent Russian person who tried hard to be able to participate in a competition was banned from it because of what that person had no influence on.

What Vladimir Putin does is what exactly a dictator does and people are not to blame for. Some are converting their support for Ukraine to hate towards Russia.

And by the way, weren’t sports and politics separate? For years, athletes around the world were punished because they refused to play against sports people from Israel. Iranians specifically have suffered much from this claim. Iranian Judo Federation is still banned because they refused to play against Israeli judokas.

I don’t advocate for ban on any sports person. In fact, I’m all in for separation of politics and sports as I see sports a wonderful way to achieve friendship between nations and people but this double standards are painful to see.

I hope the war ends very soon and we see peace everywhere in Europe, Middle East, and all around the world. And I hope we get rid of this stupid hatred we see today and do something else, like actually supporting victims of war with aids and goods.

Death: To solve all the problems!

You want all your problems to be solved? Die! Just think about it. You won’t have any concern or need or trouble. You won’t overthink about anything; in fact, you won’t think at all. There’s no injury you’ll suffer of after death and there’s no pain. Death is a wonderful answer that will guarantee your freedom of all pain and suffering and anything unpleasant.

But we don’t want to die, do we? We only live once and we want to live it good. We fight the troubles to be able to enjoy the life. The reason we fight the troubles is that the life itself is so much precious that it is worth the fight. We have a lot of amazing things in our life that we don’t want to miss and we continuously put our effort to make it better.

As much as death will solve those problems, it is not an answer. A good answer to our problems will erase the unpleasant stuff from life without touching the pleasant ones, or it acts with least impact on the good ones. A good answer won’t wipe everything, it’ll just clears the mess while it keeps everything else.

If someone suggests death to you to solve, say, your pain in your broken leg, you’d call that person crazy, right? This is not just about life. There are idiot crazy people in every matter that will suggest you the craziest option that may seem reasonable but are in fact very dumb.

Conservatives will suggest their philosophy of thought, capitalists will suggest their way of politics, authoritarians will suggest their dictatorship, democrats will manipulate you in their so-called democracy, republicans will suggest their modern slavery, fascists want to make you their soldiers, etc. etc.

Sometimes people fall for these traps, sometimes people believe in these systems and want to actually practice them without considering the harm it causes.

All it takes to know what it actually does is to think about them. Considering the benefit and harm without prejudice, bias, and bigotry. It only takes to be human and not be selfish, but to be selfless. Many say one is not free unless the whole society is free; while the society won’t be free unless every and each of us are not free. And this freedom starts in our thoughts and acts.

Auto-update is a bad idea

So if you know me a little, you probably know that I’m all in for computer user freedom and having people fully in charge and control of their computing. I’m a free software advocate and I’m very careful about my own computers and digital devices.

One thing that I believe is a bad idea implemented in most of our operating systems or digital devices is auto-update. Automatic updates allow users to keep their software programs updated without having to check for and install available updates manually. The software automatically checks for available updates, and if found, the updates are downloaded and installed without user intervention.

So the user has no idea what is being downloaded, when it is being installed, how does the update work, what will be the effect of the new update. In a perfect world where everyone is good and all programs respect users’ interest, auto-update is a pretty awesome idea but sadly we don’t live in such world.

Automatic updates are bad for privacy and some security aspects. Turning on auto-update on a system puts you in danger of trusting the device manufacturer to behave good. Anything could be contained in the update and the possible harm may not be reversed.

The update could contain a back door and the door can open the way for anyone to sabotage your computing. Universal backdoor is the way to go if you wish to be colonized and dependent and get your device shut down when it suits the vendor.[1]

If you’re using free software, you can study your program and monitor its changes but you’re still vulnerable as a program being free (as in freedom) won’t technically disallow insecurities being implemented on your device but you still have more chance on reversing the changes and/or monitor what is happening to your device.

I understand if many people don’t have enough time or knowledge to keep all their devices up-to-date or verify every update manually but handling updates manually often has more benefits than turning on auto-updates.

Less politics, more conversation

Living in Middle East, you can’t stop thinking of politics. Everything happening here impacts the whole world and everything happening in world impacts the region. Simplest aspects of life in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) are highly influenced by politics. Well, it’s the same all around the world but I can’t think of any other region that has this kind of heavy impact on world. Well of course White House or Kremlin Palace can change the world but those are places built for such thing.

When United States adds to its sanctions against Iran, the who region and the whole world changes. When Russia sold weapons to Saudi, when Emirates started normalizing their relations with Israel, everything in world was impacted. When OPEC decides about its oil price or production rate, everything in world is influenced.

Naturally, people here and all around the world feel the impact as well. Prices change, regimes make new decisions, new wars get started, old wars come to an end, etc. But here in Middle East, the impact is much more influential. Almost all of us in MENA are living under a dictatorship and under the shadow of a new war.

The point is that you can’t stop being involved in politics, you can’t even stop thinking about it here. An American, a French, an Italian, or a German can claim that perse is not political because they’re much more stable than Middle Easterners but here we’re all political, we may die tomorrow because of a new war in the region.

I run a business here. During the Iran Talks, currency price fluctuations are at the highest level and my business which relies on products produced in China and Viet Nam suffers easily. A simple smile from any part of the talks can change everything for small businesses like mine.

However, human mind and body has a capacity for stress and processing the events happening here. I’m trying to think less about politics knowing how impossible it is and have more conversation. I try to avoid political news, get away from people talking about politics, and comment less about stuff happening.

Of course to completely remove politics from my life I have to get out of earth with next spacecraft but even that doesn’t remove politics completely (what if politicians on earth decide I no longer have right to exist?).

I try to have more conversation, seeking for reason, solution, and answer rather than just listening and reading news and repeat the pointless cycle. I try to reduce the heaviness of everything happening by keeping my mind solid and with focus. Instead of repeating news to each other, I try to have conversation with people and know what they think of their future and know what is their desired system of thought and ruling.

There’s no doubt for me that I continue my political fight and I’ll continue walking towards my political goals but maybe in a different way but this time I try to do it focusing on people and conversation.

Well, isn’t that even more political?

The three laws of personal devices

Law 1

Your devices must work in your interests and your interests alone.

Law 2

When a feature can be built so that algorithms and data are kept exclusively on the person’s own device, it must be built that way.

If a feature cannot be built in this manner, all data must be end-to-end encrypted and the owner of the device must be the exclusive holder of the private key.

Law 3

The hardware, software, and services must be free as in freedom.

This writing is modified and posted under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license, originally written by Aral Balkan.

EdTech malware

Tech corporations are taking over the field of education by pushing their proprietary products into educational institutions of all levels. Proprietary applications loaded with malicious functionalities such as surveillance and collection of sensitive personal data—among many others—are being imposed on schools’ staff, teachers, students, and even parents. With the rapid expansion of online teaching, these proprietary educational technologies not only spread dramatically across schools, but they went from the classroom to the home.

This is not to say that educational technology is a bad approach per se. The problem arises when the software used in EdTech is nonfree, meaning it denies students the rights that free software grants all users.

Nonfree EdTech fails to assist the learning process by forbidding students to study the programs they are required to use, thus opposing the very nature and purpose of education. It does not allow school administrators and teachers to safeguard students’ rights by forbidding them to inspect the source code of the programs they run. It does not enable parents to make sure their children are protected from surveillance, data collection, and other mistreatment by the owner of the proprietary program.

Proprietary video conferencing software, as well as other nonfree programs, are tethered to online dis-services that collect large amounts of personal data. The school may have to agree to the company’s unjust terms of dis-service. The school, in turn, will typically force students to create an account on the dis-service, which includes agreeing to the terms.

EdTech companies are already developing great power over the students in the schools where they operate, and it will get worse. They use their surveillance power to manipulate students by customizing learning materials in the same way they customize ads and pieces of news. This way, they direct students into tracks towards various levels of knowledge, power and prestige.

These companies also structure their terms and conditions so that they are never held responsible for the consequences.

This article argues that these companies should get licenses to operate. That wouldn’t hurt, but it doesn’t address the root of the problem. All data acquired in a school about any student, teacher, or employee, must not leave the school’s control: whatever computers store the data must belong to the school and run free software. That way the school district and/or parents can control what it does with those data.

Join us in the fight against the use of nonfree software in schools.

This writing is copyrighted to GNU Education Team and web site, licensed under CC BY-SA.