The Big Katrina Fuckup

For days I have been following the incredible and outraging events following the Hurricane Katrina but as Fefe has been digging up the dirt quite well and I sort of thought this time the evil empire would finally lose, I didn’t really know what to blog.

Trying to follow the interesting news, I found the following sources quite helpful and I would recommend subscribing to them:

It is getting clearer now that the US government is trying to cover its fuckup by all means, including violently stopping the media from reporting, blocking both the people outside and inside the desaster from information flowing. And its getting even worse. Worse than I could imagine. Reports of rape and murder in the Astrodome (in Houston!), the army bombing the levees to protect rich city areas and much more depressing stuff. I am not going to summarize it all here as the list of things happening and being reported is apparently endless.

Instead I urge you to follow Jacob Appelbaum’s blog who has moved to Houston yesterday and reports from the Astrodome and summarizes other information he gets on site:

He is also in close contact with the great people at Boing Boing who cover his activities as well.

Apple’s “Trade Secrets”

Dan Gillmor talks about Apple’s “Trade Secrets” and he’s right: Apple is not doing itself a favour going against bloggers and as they are also going against fundamental rights, it’s more than just a disgrace: it’s another step in a fatal direction. Freedom is not about the freedom of companies.

Being a Mac head for a long time, I’m regularly annoyed by Apple not having enough balls to show respectable behaviour. Well, I know in the end it’s all about money, but that doesn’t mean I can take it as an excuse. Apple is also a force behind the battle for introducing software patents in Europe. Dan says:

I’m writing this on a Mac. If I were buying a replacement today, I’m not at all sure I’d make the same choice again.

So do I consider getting away from the Mac for these reasons? I am not in love with Apple, I am in love with the community that’s using these products. With exceptions, this community is usually ahead of the time, progressive, experimental, collaborative and – most important – appreciating beauty. I have been missing a lot of this in the open source scene, but things have changed slightly as good user interfaces, quality in presentation and style and usability find more on more followers in the open source scene as well. KDE and GNOME show a lot of promise recently and there might be a day where there is a real choice on the market. We’re just not there yet.

What if patents applied to literature?

The fight against software patents is one of the most important topics for data travelers these days. The whole situation is horrifying as a sprawling culture (programming) will be killed for no reason (except keeping the money at the big companies). One of the big problems in this context is to explain why this is such a big mistake to non-programmers.

Then this article came along: What if patents applied to literature? on the must-read story system. The comparison of programming and literature is so valid that most of us may have overlooked how obvious this is:

“Now imagine a literary world restricted by patents. A patent protects not just the work itself, but the idea behind the work.”

Programmers and writers share similar skills. One time, they might face similar problems.

XS4ALL sues The Netherlands

The dutch ISP XS4ALL once evolved out of the dutch hacker scene and has a track record of being an active defender of people’s digital rights. There have been various cases where XS4ALL has been actively supporting the fight against modern plagues like censorship and Scientology.

Now XS4ALL sues the Netherlands for costs that have been imposed on the ISP for installing machinery to allow the government to snoop into people’s communication. Hope they succeed in forcing the government to pay for spying into their citizens privacy.