L. Neil Smith's
Number 202, December 9, 2002


[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letter from E.J. Totty

Letter from Unknown

Letter from Derek Benner

Letter from J T House

Letter from Stephen Carville

Another Letter from E.J. Totty

Letter from Curt Howland

Letter from Khalil Ahmad

Letter from Jay P Hailey

Dear John,

Gun control British/American style.

Actually - any style:

Too big, too small;
Too long, too short,
Too obnoxious, too innocuous;
Too elite, too effete (cheap);
Too powerful, too weak;
Too massive, too passive;
Too fast, too untried;
Too inherent, without deterrent;
Too emotive, too explosive;
Too sexy, too contrived;
Too scary, too sublime;
In short, nothing but 'nothing',
Will suffice - at any time.
Citizens should always be sedate;
The State should always be great!
Up your arse, and down your throat,
We're all as screwed as Hogan's goat!

In Liberty,

E.J. Totty [ejt@seanet.com]


Bill Stone's "Revenge of the Nerds" in TLE 201 was spot on except for his misrepresentation of the Homeland Security Act as it applies to we who load our own ammunition. Though the act did change Title 18 Chapter 40 of the U.S. code to require a federal permit to purchase explosives that were formerly available without a permit in some states, it did NOT, as far as my reading goes, remove the exception in the existing code for small arms ammunition and components. I'm no lawyer, though. I'd love to see confirmation of my reading by another smart person with the patience to wade through the legalese.

Mr. Stone's confusion may have come from my unclarity in communicating this on the Smith2004 mailing list. If so, I apologize.

As a fellow nerd, I join Mr. Stone in pledging to "just say no" if asked to aid in the creation of the Total Information Awareness abomination.

The KGB Act bill is H.R. 5005. Section 1122 concerns "PERMITS FOR PURCHASERS OF EXPLOSIVES".

U.S. Code Title 18, Sec. 845, part of the chapter amended by section 1122 of the KGB act, says:

"(a) Except in the case of subsections [1] (l), (m), (n), or (o) of section 842 and subsections (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), and (i) of section 844 of this title, this chapter shall not apply to:


"(4) small arms ammunition and components thereof;

"(5) commercially manufactured black powder in quantities not to exceed fifty pounds, percussion caps, safety and pyrotechnic fuses, quills, quick and slow matches, and friction primers, intended to be used solely for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes in antique firearms as defined in section 921(a)(16) of title 18 of the United States Code, or in antique devices as exempted from the term ''destructive device'' in section 921(a)(4) of title 18 of the United States Code; and"

I fully agree with William Stone regarding the likelyhood that the Federal Government is going to have to hire professional programmers, database administrators and the like to implement the 'Total Information Awareness' tracking system. Even if built in stages, it is too complex for some executive-level secretary at the FBI to whip together using MS Access and MS Excel. Which, of course, means that it is far too complex for the end-users to understand how it is being constructed.

Therein lies my one complaint to Bill's ideas, as well as an alternative plan of action. First, this system will be built. Too many politicians and bureaucrats support it. So, if our nerds stand up and refuse to help with the design and construction of this project, it will be farmed out to those who are more interested in project success than American freedom. Microsoft could be contracted to provide the talent. Or, the Federal Government could just go to the source and hire a bunch of Indian programmers to create it. And, if our programmers and fellow nerds refuse to implement the project, that is exactly what will happen.

So, rather than refusing to work on this project, our 'nerds' must leap forward and volunteer to see it through in the most efficient manner. We must become the very bureaucrat geeks that wish to foist this system onto the American public. We must strive to become the same mindless, genius programmers who are so money-oriented that we don't care what we create as long as we get the contract. Why?

Because then, and only then, do our brightest and most cunning programmers, hackers and crackers have the chance to truly create the programs. And in doing so, they will have the opportunity to bury the bombs, the viruses, the trojan horses, the Easter Eggs, the back doors and side doors and all the other tricks and tools of the hacker's trade right into the middle of the TIA system! They want efficient analysis of potential threats? We'll give it to them. They want to track a single person's transactions, cash or otherwise, over the course of a year? We'll program that baby to track it. They want to know who's flying where and travelling with whom? We'll show them who and make it easy to use!

And, as we build the system, we'll insist that it must be tied more closely with the computers in the IRS, FBI and DEA, so that each of these agencies can more easily benefit from using the TIA system. This will require massive upgrades to the IRS, FBI and DEA computer systems, but we'll be eager to comply. And then, after all this information has been building and collecting over the course of a full year, we'll attack. The backups of the backups of the databases will compress and encrypt themselves and then forget the encryption methods used. The programs will either start to randomize the data collected, throw it out without saving it, or just simply rewrite themselves into data-erasing viruses. Back doors, long hidden and inactive will pop open and allow outside users to directly corrupt the data. And, in doing so, we'll bring Homeland Security and the Office of Total Information Awareness to their knees. It can be done.

Yes, it can be done, but only if we programmers get together and plan this out, including going out of our way to support every aspect of the TIA system. We can do it. The question is; Are we willing?

Derek Benner [dabenner@attbi.com]

I just want it known that Mr. Stone was preaching to a choir of at least one.

I'm an electrical engineer one semester from graduation; I'm a nerd and that word is a compliment coming from me.

About a year ago I decided that my most basic rule, when it comes to prospective employment, is that I will not work on any product or service that free, random individuals are not able to purchase despite their cash and inclination. It's been painful -- some such work happens to be exactly the kind I'd really enjoy -- but I've refused opportunities to interview with companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for exactly this reason.

I will not contribute in any constructive manner to such filth as this TIA program unless I am tortured.

Shrug, people!

J T House [swissboy@swissinfo.org]

I am not sure, William Stone has thought through his proposal in "Revenge of the Nerds." While it would make a grand gesture is it too easy for the state to counter to be of much use except as propaganda. Remember there are programmers, sysadmins, DBA's, etc in other countries who would love a chance to come to the United States. One easy way the government can counter Stone's proposed strike is:

  1. Increase the number of H-1B visas. Because INS is now part of Homeland Security, this will be easy.

  2. Provide expedited approval for any employer who terminates an IT employee who refuses to assist in transferring data to the OTIA.

  3. Eliminate the salary parity requirement so the replacement can be paid less money.

If the government really wants to make an example of the nerds, it can adopt a doctrine of excessive retaliation and change number 2 above to allow multiple approvals for every balky geek fired. This would make it easier for a compliant IT manager to replace several IT workers even if only one tried to strike. That and the elimination of salary parity may actually encourage the management of a company to rid itself of American nerds with uncomfortable ideas about freedom and replace them with workers from places where obedience is the norm.

Stephen Carville [stephen@totalflood.com]
UNIX and Network Administrator


This has been a poor definition from Day One. I've written about it before, but it has remained on the masthead.

For someone who has an objection, there seems to be painfully lacking any kind of suggestion in-kind that would be used replace that masthead.

Start with the obvious. The definition says that no one has the right to advocate the initiation of force. Well, if I don't have the right to advocate initiating force, then it would not be a violation of my rights to forcibly stop me from advocating it. But since advocating is not the same as initiating, the person who forcibly stopped me from advocating initiated force would himself be initiating force.

I'd thought that is was patently obvious - from the outset, that 'advocating action' was the initial step that one took prior to actually execution of an act. So, therefor & therefore, the masthead is conceptually well stated, properly constructed and grammatically correct. To anticipate the initiation of force against another, is to advocate such, no matter how you cut it.

Regarding the corrupt argument that employs the child, is to entirely neglect the responsibilities of a parent. To presume that a child's rights are under threat is to make all adults nothing more than equals to children, and worse, presumes that children make demands upon the adults without recourse. Sounds like a another brand of socialism, if you ask me.

In Liberty,

E.J. Totty [ejt@seanet.com]

Dear John,

Robert Bass writes about the Non-Initiation of Force Principle in TLE#201,

This has been a poor definition from Day One. I've written about it before, but it has remained on the masthead.

It has been my exerience that people who object to the NIF principle do so because of their various interpretations of the word "initiate".

To take an example from Mr. Bass' note,

[I]s it a violation of rights to forcibly carry a small child to the doctor?

No more than it is a violation to kill someone attacking a small child. I must assume the child is already endangered by what ails them, "force" has already been initiated. Just as with an attacker, one faces consequences of responsibility if one is wrong about the actual danger the child is in.

Well, if I don't have the right to advocate initiating force, then it would not be a violation of my rights to forcibly stop me from advocating it.

Does Mr. Bass know what "inciting a riot" is? The advocating of the initiation of force. It's quite hard to prosecute, because what to one person is voicing an opinion could be considered by another to be advocating force. A libertarian takes it another step further and considers someone advocating state force to be used to rob or harm someone else to be wrong.

What kind of a person would, with one side of their face say "Your initiating force against me is wrong" and with the other side, in their votes and advocacy say "It's ok to initiate force against some other people, so long as it's for a cause I believe in"?

The first sentence defines it in terms of belief, while the second and third define it in terms of action. Plainly, that leaves room for a person to qualify as a libertarian by virtue of his beliefs but also to be disqualified by virtue of his actions.

With these words, Mr. Bass defines a hypocrite, not a libertarian.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]

FreePakistan Newsletter wishes you a very happy Eid! and, invites you to give a thought to the following:

"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will." [Frederic Bastitat]

"If you don't create a free market, a black market will emerge." [Lithunaian Free Market Institute Motto]

"The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of the tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience." [Albert Camus]

"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." [Frederic Bastiat]

"The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence." [Ayn Rand]

Thank you!
Enjoy a happy Eid!

Khalil Ahmad [khalilkf@hotmail.com]
Lahore, Pakistan

FreePakistan Newsletter
A link to Libertarian activism in Pakistan

re: THERE IS A STORM BREWING, by Michael Peirce, TLE 201

What so many on the right are missing is this simple fact: Bush and his buddies come down on the side of ACLU. Colin Powell, the government mouthpiece stated last week that Christian fundamentalists are as bad as the Islamists, clearly missing the fact that this country was founded by Christians, that he presumably works for us, and that we, the Christian people of America, did not blow up those skyscrapers!

I am not a Christian. My heritage includes something called "Freedom of Religion", and the right not to have any religion jammed down my throat no matter how correct or superior its proponents believe it to be.

Actually I came to be a Libertarian after following the ACLU's absolutism on free speech to it's logical conclusion - If one right is absolute then they all are.

If you believe that America is a Christian country, for Christians, by Christians, and not really for anyone else (freedom loving Deists, Pagans, Buddhists, or Muslims as well as Christians) then I believe what you favor is not so much Liberty as Theocracy.

Not me. I favor the kind of Liberty that says I can believe whatever I want, and leave you to yours. I favor the kind of Liberty that says not only is being, say, a Pagan or a Muslim okay, but both groups should be able to by any arms of any type at any time without any restriction. (If one right is absolute, then they all are).

I favor the kind of Liberty implied by protected free speech and protected due process and the explicit statement of the presumption of innocence. I like the sort of Liberty that says the government is not entitled to an opinion on religion, spirituality or philosophy one way or the other, and should continue to shut up about it at every opportunity.

I prefer the kind of Liberty where left handed, Pagan, lesbian, Eskimos are as free as you and me. If it doesn't make that cut, then it ain't freedom.

If you believe in your heart-of-hearts that it's about Christian or not-Christian, and that God is on the side of the Christians in the end, then that's fine. That's up to you, but do me a favor. Put down the Red-White-And-Blue. Put down the label of Liberty. That's not what you're talking about, anyway.

Get a shield, or a shield shaped patch and paint/embroider a large red cross on it and be honest about who you really are and what you really believe. You're a Crusader.

Now go have fun assaulting the Holy Land for God and leave me the hell alone.

Jay P Hailey [jayphailey@juno.com]


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