Is Civil Disobedience (still) Effective?

Everything old is new again.

From the video description on Youtube:

“In November 1970, after my arrest along with others who had engaged in a Boston protest at an army base to block soldiers from being sent to Vietnam, I flew to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to take part in a debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on civil disobedience. I was supposed to appear in court that day in connection with the charges resulting from the army base protest. I had a choice: show up in court and miss this opportunity to explain — and practice — my commitment to civil disobedience, or face the consequences of defying the court order by going to Baltimore. I chose to go. The next day, when I returned to Boston, I went to teach my morning class at Boston University. Two detectives were waiting outside the classroom and hauled me off to court, where I was sentenced to a few days in jail. Here is the text of my speech that night at Johns Hopkins.”

Was it the protests at town halls, the marches, the phone calls, and the letters and emails, that killed repeal and replacement of the ACA? (BTW, it’s still not dead.)

Or was the bill doomed anyway because arch-conservatives wanted nothing less that repeal with no replacement?

Finding out would require a level of honesty from members of the House that we’ll never see.

There’s little doubt that civil disobedience was a key part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, but how about now? Is it easier to ignore protestors when you can use social media to reach only the people that agree with you, as opposed to the old days when only three TV networks and a handful of national newspapers made the country seem more like a single entity?

Ransomware: Scary Stuff

In case you’re not already familiar with it, “ransomware” is software that installs itself on your computer, scrambles your files so you can’t use them anymore, and then holds them ransom until you send money to the ransomer. (Via bitcoin, so (s)he cannot be identified.)  Depending on who “sent” the software, sending the money may not get control of your computer back for you; some of the attackers are just scammers and don’t bother.

According to the FBI, this “business” is generating about $1B a year in economic activity. Some high-profile clients have fallen prey to it, like hospitals, universities, yes, even police departments.

It’s not going to get any better. Corporate IT departments think that running antivirus software (much of which is sold by companies that make and release viruses to hurt their competition,) making employees change passwords frequently, and making their systems difficult to use, is what security means. For most companies IT security is not a skill or a practice, it’s a to-do list executed by professional managers.

Ransomware is going to get worse because people with no computer skills (even less than that required to run IT!) can literally buy it and point it at an enemy now.

And then there’s this guy and his ideas about where the technology could go.

One of the characters knocking around in my head is an I.T. detective/forensic type, and the possible targets for a ransomware attack, why they are targets, and the kind of film noir mess my investigator could be walking into is a veritable gold mine.

Writing is turning out to be a great coping mechanism.

Friday Music: Fab Faux

My wife and I saw the Fab Faux last weekend. If you’re not familiar with them, the Fab Faux are a Beatles tribute band that have been around for about twenty years. (Their website is here. It’s done completely in Flash and is incredibly annoying.)

I can’t say enough about how talented and entertaining the band is. They sound very much like the Beatles, as you might expect, but they also have a deep love of the material and it shows in everything they do. Watching people do what they love, especially when they are exceptionally good at it, is always special.

The show was last Saturday, the same day Chuck Berry died, and they did a wonderful tribute to him for the encore.

But rather than write a full review I’ll say this: if you like the Beatles, go see them. They tend to sell out, so you may need to keep an eye out, or <em>shudder</em> give Ticketmaster your email address, but it’s worth it.


We saw them at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, which is in a nice neighborhood for going out to dinner and a show. We had a great time.

Enjoy this video of the Fab Faux doing my absolute favorite piece of Beatles music:

Have a great weekend,