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Capitalism has failed. I don’t mean this in the revolutionary, lets socialize All The Things way - all I mean is something that should really be obvious right away. Much as there has never been a communist nation (insofar as you can refer to a communist society as a “nation”), there really hasn’t ever been a proper anarcho-capitalist state. None of the various forms of revolutionary socialism have ever managed to transition over to anything but famine and opressive dictatorships, to the point where we’re pretty sure that even trying is a horrible idea, and none of the various attempts at removing as much regulation as possible ever go anywhere before the inevitable huge consolidated organizations pop up, go under, and enough people get hurt that thigs are rolled back very quickly (and lets not even talk about the half a dozen failed attempts at swimming libertopias).

So, if communism isn’t the silver bullet, and capitalism doesn’t work either, what does? Well, look around - what do you see? What is the economic philosophy nearly every nation on earth subscribes to? It goes by many names, depending on whatever seemed like a good idea at the time. Roughly, it can be described as “something somewhere in the middle between the two extremist ideas of no-government-at-all anarcho-capitalism and government-runs-everything centralized-socialism”.

It’s obvious that, while that covers just about everythig everyone does, that different nations still do thigs differently. Some nations have socialized medicine, some don’t. Some have huge economic safety nets, some don’t. Some are libertarian enough to make almost anyone who doesn’t post on the bitcointalk.com forums happy, some are still so socialist that socialist academia would rather pretend they somehow aren’t. As it turns out, while it is obvious that “some government - but not too much” is a generally sound principle, how much is “too much” is a matter that isn’t settled and might never be. And that is perfectly fine!

Society is a messy, complex thing, and a moving target. There usually is more than one side to any issue and no solution that is great for everybody, and what was perfectly fine yesterday might need reevaluation today, since the world and the people that live in it constantly change. That is why it is good that there are people who have various oftentimes diametrically opposite points of views about issues, so that these people can then get together and figure out how to solve the problems they have in some way that everyone can live with, after considering all the sides of the issue that there are. That way, whatever happens will usually be better than if any one group had just gone ahead and done whatever. Maybe it is a terrible idea to deregulate banking, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it is a terrible idea to regulate what people can and cannot say, maybe it’s fine to allow people to sue for personal insults. Maybe the state should have a monopoly on the exploitation of natural ressources, or maybe not. The wrongest possible thing is blindly following your own ideology without first checking if maybe, just maybe, the other guys have the right idea this time.

As long as we are at the neighbourhood association level, it’s perfectly possible for everyone to participate personally in political decision-making. As soon as a significantly greater number of people get involved, this becomes impractical. A good - not perfect, but pretty good - system for this is political parties. They are instruments of political decision-finding - they stand for various different sets of values and positions, and when voting, people delegate the actual process of talking things through thoroughly to them, so that things can get done. There’s obvious problems with that (lack of granularity, long time between elections, …), which can be offset in various ways, but as time goes on, there is one less-obvious problem that has become quite a bit more problematic recently.

To actually figure out what a good way to handle things is, you usually need discussion. If everyone already agrees, that seems great at the time, but when everyone pretty much agrees on everything, that starts leading to short-sighted, sub-optimal decisions.

But that is exactly what is happening right now.

Political parties should not be like a corporation trying to maximize shareholder value, always trying to get the maximum number of votes. A party should, of course, aim to get the greatest number of votes it can - but it should do that by convincing as many people as possible that its ideas are the way forward, not by constantly shifting their core values around until they aren’t considered inelectable by anyone anymore and then going for the “we are the lesser evil!” vote. Parties should not jump at any opportunity to shift closer to their political opponents in an effort to skim off some votes. Parties should not succumb to populism and do a complete one-eighty every time public opinion seems to shift. All this slow, unstoppable slide to the center leaves is parties with no real positions of their own who cannot possibly effectively represent the spectrum of opinions that there is.

But that is exactly what is happening right now.

Every time you hear a politician say “Some Other Party had this idea first, but we saw it was a good idea so we’re doing it as well!”, you should get angry. Every time you see a party abandon yet another long-held position to move further towards the center, you should get angry. You should tell these people “No! Have some fucking backbone! Risk being in the wrong! Debate with the opposition! If you must, compromise, but not right away!”, or, in other words, “Do your fucking job!” - which is the representation of the electorate, and not the conservation of personal political power. However, inevitably, that seems to be where things end up going, if left unchecked.

What can be done about this? Well, I certainly don’t claim to know. There are some ideas that I find neat - systems like the Pirate Parties “Liquid Democracy” tools, where votes can be delegated on a per-issue basis and the delegation can be changed at any time, or election systems that encourage smaller, more diverse parties - but these probably have terrible problems of their own. A good way to figure out what might work would be to get together and talk and maybe disagree about some things so that we can learn from each other. Lets disagree. Lets talk.

Recently, there has been widespread hysteria about the Chinese government, like the governments of the United States of America and Israel and Russia before it, possibly endorsing or supporting people breaking into other peoples computer systems. In the light of the panic being spread by people for whom a general state of fear about foreign people breaking into your computers might be advantageous, it is important to remember one thing:

There is no Cyberwar. Cyberwar is not a thing that is happening anywhere or at any time, nor is it a thing that has ever happened. It is not a thing that is likely to happen in the near future.

Lets break the word “Cyberwar” down into parts. It is made from the word “Cyber”, a prefix used by people who are not competent with computers to mean “Computer things we do not understand”, and “War”, which is generally understood to mean “violent conflict between nations”, or at least “violent, armed conflict”. The kind of conflict where destruction is widespread and people die.

You might have noticed that we haven’t really seen anyone dying from supposed “Cyberwarfare” - at best, there has been economic damage from IP violations, and some breakage of Iranian centrifuges - arguably the most war-like “act of cyberwarfare” to date, and funnily enough perpetrated by the people who are now crying the loudest about it.

That there is no cyberwar does not, by any means, mean that there is no computer crime. There is stealing of industrial secrets, there is mass spamming and scamming, there is all around virus writing and breaking into computer systems by criminal organizations.

Which brings us to the actual, important point: Computer crime is a real, existing, hard to solve problem. Which is exactly why the panic about “Cyberwar” is so harmful - it distracts from the problems we actually have, in lieu of problems that are for the most part made up or actually created by the measures that are supposedly taken to prevent them.

There is no Cyberwar, but if a general and a bunch of politicians on a power trip create a “Cyberwarfare Division”, there suddenly is a whole lot more people writing malware and doing things that destabilize the internet and hurt the network as well as society as a whole. There suddenly is pressure on security professionals to let some malware slide and to build backdoors into their systems, which invariably get abused or introduce new security vulnerabilities. There suddenly are people selling “security consulting” to scared companies, making sure they are protected against a threat that for the most part just doesn’t exist while leaving their systems open to the more everyday, less sexy security problems that cannot be solved by applying quickfixes at 90USD/hr.

It is 2013, computer security is not a thing that is solved or can be solved easily, and the “Cyberwar” hysteria is making it worse. So please: Stop. Stop panicing about Cyberwar. There is no Cyberwar, and the panic about Cyberwar is harmful and in the way of making actual progress towards getting more in control of problems we actually have.

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The 2012 edition of Revision, a demoparty held annually in Saarbrücken (Germany), has come and gone. SVatG was there with record attendance (4 people!), and for once, we’d actually prepared something before the party, which is not something that usually happens - and this time, two releases!

Please enjoy:

Peridiummmm (A demo for the STM32F4 ARM-based µC)

[Pouet]- [Binary (Arm Cortex M4)]- [Source Code]

Blockparty 5 Non-Invitation

[Pouet]- [Binary (Windows)]

Meeting up with everyone (esp. Saga Musix) was great, of course, but this time, the best part was going to the party with people from my actual demo group, especially nrr, who flew over here just for the party! (Also, Mithaldu, who was spontaneously recruited at the party place).


Left to right: Mithaldu - nrr - ryx - halcy (with las^mercury sprinting in back)

Having finished up before the party, we of course didn’t party code any super dumb party prods filled with ridiculous jokes, a practice we at SVatG despise.

Finally, my favourite release from the party:

Boogietown by Ghostown & RNO

Overall, kickass party, hope to be there again next year. For me, the next party will most likely be Evoke, though I would really, really like to go to Assembly this year and see WAHa_06x36.

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<halcy> Oh I know what you should make <halcy> WAHa_06x36: Make a STALLMAN BOX <halcy> WAHa_06x36: Like a buddha box except it displays cool saint ignucius effects and it plays the free software song

And then I went and made it myself.

Stallman box

It is, of course, free software. You can find the source code on github. Users of GNU/Linux are assumed to be capable of compiling it themselves (It pretty much works out to “run make”, needs SDL and freeglut and glew). GNU/Linux graphics drivers are usually proprietary and sometimes terribly buggy, so it might or might not work.

For Microsoft Windows, there is a binary version.

Download:

(It requires a relatively new version of OpenGL to actually run, sorry about that)

Some audio and png code taken from WAHa_06x36 - thank you!

halcy.de was down due to unforseen motherboard breakage. Suprisingly, some people actually noticed this. The motherboard has been switched out, so halcy.de is back in working condition now. Welcome back. :3

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So I got a 3DS, and after noticing that it uses an open format (“mpo”) for storing 3D photographs, I needed to play with that, of course.

As a result, I now have a version of my simple raytracer that can render a left and right image, which can then be combined into one stereoscopic 3D image for viewing on the 3DS with software such as this (It runs under wine).

I’ve rendered two small scenes, a 4D julia set and a trefoil knot of spheres! They look kind of neat, so if you have a 3DS, put them on your SD card in the picture folder and have a look!

(If you don’t have a 3DS, you can still look at them as if they were normal jpeg images, because they really are jpegs with some added exif data)

P.S.: My friend code is 0473-7758-5435~ feel free to add me~

Four new entries and live videos have been added to the “releases” page, amongst them my favourite SVatG release thus far, “It’s 1975 and this man is about to show you the future”!

Check them out!


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