Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why It’s Important For Each Of Us To Explain And Keep Explaining The Net And Its Civil Liberties

We’re all used to changing society over a weekend of coding. But changing the values of society takes much, much longer than that, and it requires all of us to keep patiently explaining what we understand to those who don’t. Here’s a primer on how.
I founded the Swedish and first Pirate Party on January 1, 2006. The party has now spread to 70 countries. When it was founded, I saw it as a really long project – from January of 2006 to September 17 of the same year, when the elections were held. I considered this timespan to be almost overkill in terms of changing the values of society.
It didn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way. Changing society for the better takes time. It’s easy to laugh at it in retrospect, but I’m taking the opportunity to share my experience and underscore the importance of understanding it. We were elected to the European Parliament in 2009, which was still record time.
What strikes me is that after seven years, I still find myself explaining the most basic concepts of why there is a conflict between the copyright monopoly and private communications as a concept, and every time I explain it patiently, the penny drops for a few more people. That’s how you change society for the better. You explain, explain, and explain again, until you are blue in the face. You need to increase society’s understanding one person at a time, one article at a time.
In marketing, they say that a message hasn’t started to take hold until you personally are absolutely fed up to your limits of sanity with hearing yourself saying it. That’s how it works. That’s how it works when teaching the world what we understand – in particular, the key insight that the copyright monopoly cannot coexist with fundamental civil liberties.
I’ll be returning to that insight and how you – yes, you – can share it. But first, let’s establish that all of us are in different social contexts, and have different experiences and skills in expressing ourselves. When an old insight is communicated in a new context or in a new form of expression, it can reach new people – sometimes, a lot of new people.
We’re used to changing the world in a weekend of coding. We come from the Internet, after all. We’re used to a very long project being on a timescale of weeks. Changing the world and defending civil liberties is a project on a timescale of years, possibly decades – and it’s up to us to do something small every day to make it happen, for the simple reason that nobody else is going to do it for us, as they haven’t understood the importance and connected the dots as we have. It’s up to us to explain it with the skills, words, and expressions that we have at our disposal.
Let’s take one such new expression as an example – the movie TPB AFK by Simon Klose, a movie that documented the banana-republic level miscarriage of justice that was the trial against the two operators of The Pirate Bay, its media spokesperson, and a fourth unrelated person. For all of us readers here at TorrentFreak and similar newsflows, it was old news, and we mostly saw the movie as a valuable expression of our own experiences at the time.
But others were knocked over backwards by the film’s message and its frank, factual documentation. Even people who are quite close to me, people to whom I had been describing all these events in real time with as they played out (and with all the anger that the thorough corruption of the Swedish justice system deserved) called me after having seen the movie – and they were downright devastated. They had no idea of the bigger picture that the movie managed to portray.
Most of us are geeks. We can take it as a personal insult when somebody tells us a fact twice, even if years pass between the two occasions: did they think we weren’t paying attention to what they were saying, or did they think we wouldn’t remember? However, reality outside of our sphere – where the battle of civil liberties, ours and others, are won or lost – is different. And it’s up to us to explain what we know, because people who don’t understand these key concepts are unable to share the the knowledge until we have shared it with them.
It’s a bit like a key message in the movie “Terminator: Salvation”, where people are listening to radio broadcasts from the Resistance, and wondering aloud who the resistance are – and then, the broadcast ends with these words: “If you are hearing this message, you are the resistance”. That’s exactly it.
If you are reading this column, you understand these crucial issues better than most, and therefore have a responsibility toward the civil liberties of yourself and everybody else to explain what you understand about the importance of free speech, the messenger immunity, and a free internet to people around you, in ways that you are personally comfortable with.
If you want a couple of key articles as a primer in explaining why the copyright monopoly cannot coexist with freedom of speech and communications as a concept, and why surveillance is bad, I’d recommend these two which contains reasoning and logic I’ve used successfully for the past seven years:
The Analog Letter explains why the copyright monopoly at today’s level cannot coexist with the concept of a private letter, and how it’s absolutely reasonable that our children have the same civil liberties that our parents had, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the copyright monopoly must be scaled back, and copyright industry profits are irrelevant to the discussion.
Debunking the dangerous “Nothing to fear, nothing to hide” debunks just that dangerous and blatantly false saying of “if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide”, which is wrong on so many levels. (A short retort to that one is “I lock the door when I go to the bathroom, despite nothing unusual going on in there – I just think I have a right to keep it to myself”, which will make some of people think.)
Read them both, and start talking about them, wherever you are, in ways that you are comfortable with. Not just once, but for at least the next decade. Happy changing the world – one conversation, one person at a time. You are the resistance.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

The Anolog Leter

Whenever pirates demand the right to send anything to anybody without being tracked, we are somehow accused of wanting things for free. That’s not true. What we demand is simpler: we demand the laws to apply equally online and offline; we demand that our children inherit the civil liberties that our parents fought, bled and often died to give to us. It’s an entirely reasonable demand.
Let’s look at the classic letter to illustrate this. The physical letter, consisting of an envelope, a folded paper with writing on it inside the envelope, and a stamp. This was what personal communication looked like in our parents’ offline world, and it was enshrined with certain civil liberties. I’m going to focus on four of them.
First, the letter was anonymous. You, and you alone, determined whether you identified yourself as sender on the outside of the envelope for the world to know, on the inside of the letter for only the recipient to know, or didn’t identify yourself at all when sending a letter. This was your prerogative.
Second, the letter was secret in transit. Nobody had the right to open all letters just to make sure they didn’t contain something illegal or immoral – or something copied, for that matter. If you were under prior suspicion of a very serious crime, your mail could be secretly opened to find evidence of that crime – but no letter would ever be opened routinely to check for new crimes.
Third, the letter was untracked. Nobody had the right – nor, indeed, the capability – to record who was communicating with whom. Nobody was able to monitor all mailboxes to see when somebody dropped a letter in it, much less the ability to identify that person and connect them to the address on the letter dropped in the mailbox. It was a fundamental right to keep your connections to yourself.
Fourth, the mailman was never responsible for the contents in the sealed letter. How could they? They were not aware of its contents, nor were they allowed to make themselves aware of its contents. Their responsibility and accountability started and ended with delivery of the packages to the address on the envelope.
This is a set of civil liberties that our parents and grandparents literally fought, bled, and sometimes even died to give us. It is entirely reasonable that they carry over to our children in the environment they communicate in, just as the rights applied to the offline world of our parents.
But when you point this out, some will protest loudly. The copyright industry, in particular. “If you allow anybody to send anything to anybody else, even anonymously, we can’t make any money!”
To this, I respond, so what?
It is the job of every entrepreneur to make money given the current constraints of society and technology. Nobody gets to dismantle civil liberties just because they can’t make money otherwise – and perhaps especially if they can’t make money otherwise.
If a particular industry can’t continue to make money the same way in the face of sustained civil liberties, they get to go out of business or start selling something else. We don’t determine what civil liberties our children get based on who can make money and who can’t; we base them on what our parents fought and bled for.
This is the heart of the file-sharing debate. I don’t care a millisecond if an obsolete distribution industry goes out of business, but I do care about the civil liberties that our children deserve to inherit.
This article has previously been published on TorrentFreak.
http://falkvinge.net/2012/11/06/the-analog-letter-its-entirely-reasonable-to-demand-that-our-children-inherit-the-rights-of-our-parents/

About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

Debunking The Dangerous"If you have nothing to hide,youhave nothing to fear"

Every so often, you hear the argument “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, in order to justify increased and invasive surveillance. This argument is not only dangerous, but dishonest and cowardly, too.
In the comments to yesterday’s post about Sweden’s DNA register, some expressed the “nothing to hide” argument – that efficiency of law enforcement should always be an overriding factor in any society-building, usually expressed as “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. This is a very dangerous mindset. The argument is frequently raised in debates by pro-big brother hawks, and doing so is dangerous, cowardly, and dishonest.
There are at least four good reasons to reject this argument solidly and uncompromisingly: The rules may change, it’s not you who determine if you’re guilty, laws must be broken for society to progress, and privacy is a basic human need.
Let’s look at these in detail. They go from the less important and more obvious, to the less obvious and more important.
One – The rules may change: Once the invasive surveillance is in place to enforce rules that you agree with, the ruleset that is being enforced could change in ways that you don’t agree with at all – but then, it is too late to protest the surveillance. For example, you may agree to cameras in every home to prevent domestic violence (“and domestic violence only”) – but the next day, a new political force in power could decide that homosexuality will again be illegal, and they will use the existing home cameras to enforce their new rules. Any surveillance must be regarded in terms of how it can be abused by a worse power than today’s.
Two – It’s not you who determine if you have something to fear: You may consider yourself law-abidingly white as snow, and it won’t matter a bit. What does matter is whether you set off the red flags in the mostly-automated surveillance, where bureaucrats look at your life in microscopic detail through a long paper tube to search for patterns. When you stop your car at the main prostitution street for two hours every Friday night, the Social Services Authority will draw certain conclusions from that data point, and won’t care about the fact that you help your elderly grandmother – who lives there – with her weekly groceries. When you frequently stop at a certain bar on your way driving home from work, the Department of Driving Licenses will draw certain conclusions as to your eligibility for future driving licenses – regardless of the fact that you think they serve the world’s best reindeer meatballs in that bar, and never had had a single beer there. People will stop thinking in terms of what is legal, and start acting in self-censorship to avoid being red-flagged, out of pure self-preservation. (It doesn’t matter that somebody in the right might possibly and eventually be cleared – after having been investigated for six months, you will have lost both custody of your children, your job, and possibly your home.)
Two and a half – Point two assumes that the surveillance even has correct data, which it has been proven time and again to frequently not have.
Three – Laws must be broken for society to progress: A society which can enforce all of its laws will stop dead in its tracks. The mindset of “rounding up criminals is good for society” is a very dangerous one, for in hindsight, it may turn out that the criminals were the ones in the moral right. Less than a human lifetime ago, if you were born a homosexual, you were criminal from birth. If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, the lobby groups for sexual equality could never have formed; it would have been just a matter of rounding up the organized criminals (“and who could possibly object to fighting organized crime?”). If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, homosexuality would still be illegal and homosexual people would be criminals by birth. It is an absolute necessity to be able to break unjust laws for society to progress and question its own values, in order to learn from mistakes and move on as a society.
Four – Privacy is a basic human need: Implying that only the dishonest people have need of any privacy ignores a basic property of the human psyche, and sends a creepy message of strong discomfort. We have a fundamental need for privacy. I lock the door when I go to the men’s room, despite the fact that nothing secret happens in there: I just want to keep that activity to myself, I have a fundamental need to do so, and any society must respect that fundamental need for privacy. In every society that doesn’t, citizens have responded with subterfuge and created their own private areas out of reach of the governmental surveillance, not because they are criminal, but because doing so is a fundamental human need.
Finally, it could be noted that this argument is also commonly used by the authorities themselves to promote surveillance and censorship, while rejecting transparency and free speech. Those who want to have a little fun can play the reverse card as illustrated by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
The next time you hear anybody say “if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide”, tell them that’s an absolutely false and dangerous argument, and point them at this article.

About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

Halloween VI, Texas Chainsaw Massacre IV and the Meaning of Horror Part I


In many ways Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995, sometimes known as Halloween 666: The Origins of Michael Myers) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (released in 1996 but filmed in 1994, also known as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are two films that could have only been made in the mid-, pre-Scream 1990s. While some of my younger readers who did not experience those dark days may find this hard to believe, but there was actually a time (i.e., the above-mentioned era) when horror movies were the epitome of geekdom and unhipness. Nobody (other than weird kids with a subscription to Fangoria, such as your humble author) watched such things, or at least wouldn't admit to it.


The slasher craze that had begun in the 1970s and had turned into a bona fide pop-culture staple by the 1980s had run its course, with the bulk of the classic franchises   --i.e. Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw MassacreA Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, etc --having largely become self parodies by this point in time (okay, the Friday the 13th series was always kind of a parody to begin with) while new would-be franchises were largely lacking in fresh vision. There were exceptions, of course. Wes Craven's New Nightmare was arguably the strongest Freddy Krueger film since the original and offered an almost 8 1/2-esque (or at least, Cat in the Brain-esque) take on the popular series while the original Candyman offered a compelling take on Clive Barker's brand of horror working (very loosely) within the confines of American slasher film, for instance.

But these films were largely ignored, with American audiences focusing on such "highbrow" interpretations of Gothic horror novels such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the homoerotic-laden Interview With the Vampire adaptation when indulging in such things. As a result those filmmakers still working in slasher flicks, especially the long-standing franchises whose names alone could still sell tickets to geeks like me, began incorporating increasingly grandiose plot lines into these films in a bid to keep audiences interested. One such plot device, used by the Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises respectively, was to incorporate Satanic cults into their mythologies.


Of course the subject of Satanic cults has been a longtime favorite of horror films but when such elements were incorporated into these franchises it came during a curious era. The 1980s had witnessed an explosion of the so-called "Satanic cult hysteria" fueled by numerous accounts of alleged Satanic cult survivors such as Michelle Remembers and Satan's Undedrground. More fuel was added to the fire in 1988 when Maury Terry published The Ultimate Evil, a radical reinterpretation of the notorious "Son of Sam" killings in which the convicted perpetrator, David Berkowitz, was depicted as a member of a nationwide Satanic cult network involved in a host of criminal activities and linked to other serial killers, including Charles Manson and his family.


While "Satanic cult hysteria" had begun to subside somewhat by the mid-90s it was still a part of the national debate (especially in the wake of the "West Memphis Three"). Beyond that, conspiracy theories were beginning to gain a certain degree of mainstream acceptance in the wake of Iran-ContraRuby Ridge and Waco: Talk radio was all the rage with conspiratorial personalities such as Art Bell and even William Milton Cooper gaining nation wide audiences; Oliver Stone had recently released his big-budget and star-studded conspiratorial examination of the Kennedy assassination, JFK, while The X-Files was one of the hottest (and certainly the coolest) shows on TV.






With all of these things converging at once it's understandable that the producers behind the Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises were willing to take some bold steps in terms of the mythology of their respective series and run with the Satanic cult angle. Still, it is a bit remarkable that the studios were willing to give them the money for such ventures, and indeed, they seemed too ultimately regret this decision --both Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generaion would face a host of problems throughout their respective productions (and beyond), as we shall see.

I shall begin first with the after mentioned Halloween film, the sixth in the franchise. The cult element was not introduced in this film but rather in the one that preceded it (Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers) and it was a brief introduction at that, consisting primarily of the revelation that Michael and the mysterious Man in Black who rescues the Shape from the sheriff's station at the end of the film both share an identical tattoo on their wrists. Why this plot line was even introduced into the franchise in the first place is something of a mystery. Dan Farrands, who wrote the original screenplay for the sixth Halloween film, had the following to say about the origins of this plot device in an interview with Fright:
"When we filmed Halloween 6 in Salt Lake City, where they had done 4 & 5, some of our crew came from those earlier films. I got friendly with some of them and I asked them questions. And I remember asking what had gone on with Halloween 5? Why did certain things happen the way they did with that film? What were the director or writer's intentions? And the response I'd always get is... nobody knew. They were making things up as they went along. And the director (of 5) from what I understand was very big into ancient superstitions and the idea of introducing some kind of black magic. So, I think he would come to the set with these ideas about bringing some of the black magic to the plot. I had one conversation with one of the screenwriters, Michael Jacobs, and I asked him while I was writing the script, 'Can you guys give me a hint here? I want to be true to what you had set up.'

"And his take was, 'We didn't know what any of it meant.' There was really no answer as to what all this stuff about runic symbols and the man with the black coat and the strange cowboy boots was all about. This all came from the director of Part 5. So since no one had any idea as to what this mysterious man in black or about the symbol on his wrist was about, I was free to go my own path with it."
Dan Farrands, scribe of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers 

I've been able to find little on the director of the fifth Halloween film, Dominique Othenin-Girard,  and even less about his motivations for introducing the cultic elements into the Halloween franchise. He seemed to indicate that longtime franchise producer Moustapha Akkad had something to do with this plot device in an interview with HalloweenMovies.com:
"The 'Man in Black' character was inspired by Mr. Akkad during the filming. His concern was how to add an additional hook for the next sequel. So I created the character without knowing his exact origin, created on-the-fly per se. I considered him as a soul brother to Michael who came from far to get to Michael. I was conscious enough to give freedom of interpretation to the next team of creators (for H6) as to who he really is. I was attentive not to lock them in a too tight position, so they could play that card as they wished. On the set, I found the idea of the 'mark' (the Thorn tattoo) to link him to Michael and drew on them and on the wall my own 'Rune'."


Dominique Othenin-Girard (top) and Moustapha Akkad (bottom)
The rune, also known as Thurisaz and Thurs, was a most curious addition indeed. Runes were a major part of Germanic and Nordic paganism, having allegedly been given to man by the god Odin (also known as Wotan), the "All Father" and chief deity of their pantheon.
"He won the knowledge of the Runes, too, by suffering. The Runes were magical inscriptions, immensely powerful for him who could inscribe them on anything -- wood, metal, stone. Odin learned them at the cost of mysterious pain. He says in the Elder Edda that he hung

Nine whole nights on a wind-rocked tree,
Wounded with a spear.
 I was offered to Odin, myself to myself,
 On that tree of which no man knows.
 
He passed this hard-won knowledge on to men. They too were able to use the runes to protect themselves."
(Mythology, Eddith Hamilton, pg. 455)
Odin on Yggdrasil

 Joseph Campbell offers a less fantastical origin for the runes:
"First of all, we have the evidence of the runic script, which appeared among the northern tribes directly after Tacitus's time. It is now thought to have been developed from the Greek alphabet and the Hellenized Gothic provinces north and northwestward of the Black Sea. Thence it passed -- possibly by the old trade route up the Danube and down the Elbe --two southwestern Denmark, where it appears about 250 A.D. and whence the knowledge of it was soon carried to Norway, to Sweden, and to England. The basic runic stave was of 24 (3×8) letters, to each of which a magical -- as well as a mystical -- value was attributed. In England the number of letters was increased to 33; in Scandinavia, reduced to 16. Monuments and free objects throughout the field of the German Volkerwanderung bear inscriptions in these various runic scripts, some telling of malice, others of love. For instance, on a late seventh century stone standing in Sweden: 'This is the secret meaning of the runes: I hid here power-runes, undisturbed by evil witchcraft. In exile shall he die by means of magic art who destroys this monument.' And on a six-century metal brooch from Germany: 'Boso wrote the runes -- to thee, Dallina, he gave the clasp.'

"The invention and diffusion of the runes mark a strain of influence running independently into barbarous German north, from those same Hellenistic centers out of which, during the same centuries, the mysteries of Mithra were passing to the Roman armies on the Danube and the Rhine.  We did not know what 'wisdom' was carried with the runes at that early date, but that in later times their mystic wisdom was of a generally Neoplatonic, Gnostic-Buddhist order is hardly to be doubted. Othin's (Wodan's) famous lines in the Icelandic Poetic Edda, telling of his gaining of the knowledge of the runes through self-annihilation, make this relationship perfectly clear..."
(The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology, pgs. 481-482)

Runes would later be incorporated heavily into Nazi paganism, both for mystical as well as political reasons.
"Further, if runic inscriptions could be found on stones buried or standing in such faraway places as Minsk or the Pyrenees, then the assumption was that Minsk and the Pyrenees were once German territories.

"And, if the sounds represented by the runic symbols could be discerned in place names from other parts of Europe, then it followed that Germans had once colonized and settled in those places. This was much more convenient than actually finding runic petroglyphs in situ, for it meant that merely transliterating the name of a French town or a Russian River into appropriate runic words (which a clever runic scholar could do given virtually any cluster of native phonemes from China to Chile) was equivalent to proclaiming that town or river a dominion of the once  -- and future --German Reich.

"The alphabet was therefore abandoned for mystical purposes by the pan-German cults in favor of the runes. What was the alphabet, after all, but some sort of Semetic invention? The runes, on the other hand, were the pure expression of people of German blood. If a rune were discovered carved into a stone found lying in a field in Tibet, for instance, it was simply further proof of Teutoinic migration and domination. And once the swastika -- a sacred symbol in many parts of the world that never knew a rune --was identified as a 'rune,' the Nazis were well on their way to proclaiming the entire globe German territory."
(Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda, pg. 51)

The Nazi obsession with runes makes the inclusion of one as a pivotal plot device in Halloween 6 especially interesting to me. My personal belief (based upon my research on such topics) is that if some type of underground cult network does in fact exist then it most likely derives from Nazi rituals and "techniques" devised by the Third Reich rather than some type of centuries old Satanic conspiracy as is commonly imagined by the conspiratorial right (though if there is a centuries old conspiracy I suspect it traces back directly to the Vatican itself, a possibility the literature typically downplays if not out right neglects). But such a topic goes far beyond the scope of this series.

The sixth Halloween film may well be the most controversial in the series among fans. Many felt the series had totally jumped the shark by making the cultic elements introduced in part five a crucial piece of the series' mythology. Some fans, however, felt that Halloween 6 did a remarkable job of tying the whole series together and provided as compelling an explanation for the immortal Michael Myers as anyone was apt to come up with. Daniel Farrands' original script was filled with allusions to prior films, and even brought back minor characters such as Tommy Doyle and Dr. Terrance Wynn from the first Halloween film as major characters. In many ways, the massively overhyped Halloween: H20 that followed Curse after horror's return to hipdom in the late 90s rather blatantly ripped off many of Farrands' crucial concepts but arguably did not best its predecessor despite having a decent budget and star-studded cast (at least by the standards of horror films) at its disposal.


Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was beset with problems throughout its production. On the one hand, there were the opposing visions of Farrands and director Joe Chappelle, with the latter naturally winning out. Then there was the studio, Dimension Films (a subsidiary of Miramax Films back then), which had its own vision and seemed to regret greenlighting the sixth Halloween film from the get-go. They apparently held many of  Farrands' ideas, such as his desire to cast Christopher Lee in the role of Wynn (Dimensions reportedly believed that Lee was too old and that modern audiences would not recognize him, a notion the Lord of the Rings films would soon disprove), in contempt. It nickeled and dimed the filmmakers throughout, which ultimately led to scream queen Danielle Harris (who made her theatrical debut in the fourth Halloween film and had become something of a child star for the series) dropping out the day before filming was scheduled to start. Finally, it would demand hasty re-shoots after an original cut of the film scored poorly with test audiences. These re-shoots occurred after star Donald Pleasence had died and were set to a rigid schedule to meet the film's release date that ultimately led to filming wrapping up before director Chappelle had finished. As a result, the theatrical cut ends rather suddenly with no clear-cut resolution and numerous storylines left unresolved.


Harris (top, obviously), who briefly attended the same elementary school as Recluse, and Pleasence (bottom)

Despite these things, Halloween 6 would prove to be surprisingly popular amongst the fan base, especially after a bootleg known as the "Producer's Cut" (in fact, the original cut of the film that was screened to the above-mentioned test audience) leaked to the public. Halloween 6 does a surprisingly effective job of capturing the zeiteist of the 90s, especially the conspiracy meme. Director Chappelle was apparently going for an X-Files-type feel for this film and it is very evident, especially in terms of the visuals. The whole conspiracy radio broadcast subculture is also referenced as well via the character of Barry Simms (Leo Geter), a shock jock who comes off as a cross between Art Bell and Howard Stern, whose broadcast appears in the background of several early moments in the film. Especially amusing is a caller who insists that the CIA extracted Michael Myers so that he could be used as an assassin. Apparently not even Langley could control Myers, the caller proclaiming: "They wanted the ultimate assassin...He took out eight agents when they had him at Langley. They couldn't control him so they packed him up in a rocket and shipped him off to space."

As a result of the different versions there is not exactly a uniform plot line so I will first focus on the theatrical cut and then discuss the differences in the Producer's Cut as they are relevent to our discussion.


The film picks up six years after the ending of the fifth Halloween film, where Michael Myers and his niece Jamie (originally played by Harris, portrayed by J.C. Brandy in Halloween 6) were abducted by the above-mentioned Man in Black. As Halloween 6 opens Jamie, now 15 years old, is giving birth in an abandoned hospital before a Druidistic cult on October 30. Once this is completed the Man in Black takes Jamie's baby from her, but a nurse later gives it back to her and helps her escape. The cult presumably dispatches Michael, who tracks her down to a farmhouse where he dispatches of her via farm machinery.

Jamie

Jamie hid her baby before heading to the farmhouse, however, and it is eventually discovered at a bus station by Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), who was the child being babysat by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the original Halloween film. Tommy now resides in a house next door to the Strode house, renting a room from a landlady who was Michael Myers' babysitter on the night that he killed his sister as a child.

The Strode house is currently occupied by Kara Strode, her six-year-old son Danny, and her parents and brother. Tommy soon deduces that they are at risk and informs Dr. Loomis (Pleasence), Michael's nemesis since the first film, of their presence in the Strode house as well as of Jamie's baby. Both Loomis and Tommy work to extract the Strodes from their home, but only Kara and Danny make it out, with the rest of the family being picked off one by one.

Michael doing his thing in the Strode house

Tommy takes Kara and Danny back to his room and lays out some startling revelations concerning Michael's links to the rune of thorn. Specifically, he states:
"...Runes were a kind of early alphabet that originated in Northern Europe thousands of years ago, around 500 B.C. Cults used Thorn carvings in blood and pagan rituals to portend future events and invoke magic. Black magic. Of all the runes, Thorn had the most negative influence. Thorn may be a reason to explain Michael’s evil.  
"In ancient times, the druid priests believed that Thorn caused sickness, famine, and death to hundreds and thousands of people. It represented a demon. Translated literally, it was the name of a demon spirit that delivered human sacrifices... One child from each tribe was chosen to be inflicted with the curse of Thorn to offer the blood sacrifices of its next of kin on the night of Samhain.
"When applied directly to another person, Thorn could be used to call upon them confusion and destruction -- to literally visit them with the Devil.' The sacrifice of one family meant sparing the lives of an entire tribe. For years I’ve been convinced that there’s some reason, some method behind Michael’s madness, and the common link I’ve found is Thorn...

"Well then Michael’s power would end, and the curse would be passed on to another child. That’s why I think these people, whoever they are, are after Jamie’s baby. They must want to make Michael’s final sacrifice...

"The druids were also great mathematicians and astronomers. The Thorn symbol is actually a constellation of stars that appears from time to time on Halloween night. Whenever it has appeared, Michael has appeared. Coincidence? I’ve traced it back to 1963 when Michael murdered his sister, Judith. He escaped from Smith’s Grove sanitarium fifteen years after that in 1978. It happened three years later in 1981 when he escaped from a routine transfer from Ridge Mont to Smith's Grove. Seven years later in 1988, and the year after that in 1989. And after six years, Thorn reappears. Tonight."

Michael's "thorn" tattoo (top) and the alleged constellation it represents (bottom)

Based on what I've been able to ascertain about the rune of thorn, the film's description is way off. 'Thorn' derives from the Old Norse word 'Thurs,' which means giant. While giants were certainly terrible creatures in Norse mythology (as well as in most mythologies) there was nothing especially cursed about this rune. Beyond that the druids, whose Celtic religion was slightly different from many of the pagan practices of mainland Europe, had their own sacred alphabet and did not employ runes, though there is some overlap between Celtic and Norse mythology overall (Certainly the Nazis were most interested in the overlap between Norse and Celtic mythology and incorporated both elements into their own state religion). In general the chief holidays of Celtic paganism, of which Halloween/Samhain was the principal one, were celebrated at different times of the year than those on mainland Europe.
"From the foregoing survey we may infer that among the heathen forefathers of the European peoples the most popular and widespread fire-festival of the year was the great celebration of Midsummer Eve or Midsummer day. The coincidence of the festival with the summer solstice can hardly be accidental. Rather we must suppose that our pagan ancestors purposely timed the ceremony of fire on earth to coincide with the arrival of the sun at the highest point of his course in the sky. If that was so, it follows that the old founders of the midsummer rites had observed the solstices or turning-points of the sun's apparent path in the sky, and that they accordingly regulated their festal calendar to some extent by astronomical considerations.

"But while this may be regarded as fairly certain for what we may call the aboriginals throughout a large part of the continent, it appears not to have been true for the Celtic peoples who inhabited the Land's End of Europe, the islands and promontories that stretch out into the Atlantic ocean on the North-West. The principal fire-festivals of the Celts... were seemingly timed without any reference to the position of the sun in the heaven. They were two in number, and fell at an interval of six months, one being celebrated on the eve of May Day and the other on Allhallow Even or Hallowe'en, as it is now commonly called, that is, on the thirty-first of October, the day preceding All Saint's or Allhallows' Day. These dates coincide with none of the four great hinges on which the solar year revolved, to wit, the solstices and the equinoxes. Nor do they agree with the principle seasons of the agricultural year, the sowing in spring and the reaping in autumn. For when May Day comes, the seed has long been committed to the earth; and when November opens, the harvest has long been reaped and garnered, the fields lie bare, the fruit-trees are stripped, and even the yellow leaves are fast fluttering to the ground. Yet the first of May and the first of November marked turning-points of the year in Europe; the one ushers in the genial heat and the rich vegetation of the summer, the other heralds, if it does not share, the cold and the barrenness of winter...

"Of the two feasts Hallowe'en was perhaps of old the more important, since the Celts would seem to have dated the beginning of the year from it rather than from Beltane. In the Isle of Man, one of the fortresses in which the Celtic language and lore longest held out against the siege of the Saxon invaders, the first of November, Old Style, has been regarded as New Year's day down to recent times... In ancient Ireland, as we saw, a new fire used to be kindled every year on Hallowe'en or the eve of Samhain, and from the sacred flame all the fires in Ireland were rekindled. Such a custom points strongly to Samhain or All Saints' Day (the first of November) as New Year's Day; since the annual kindling of a new fire takes place most naturally at the beginning of the year, in order that the blessed influence of the fresh fire may last throughout the whole period of twelve months. Another confirmation of the view that the Celts dated their year from the first of November is furnished by the manifold modes of divination which... were commonly resorted to by Celtic peoples on Hallowe'en for the purposes of ascertaining their destiny, especially their fortune in the coming year; for when could these devices for prying into the future be more reasonably put in practice than at the beginning of the year? As a season of omens and auguries Hallowe'en seems to have far surpassed Beltane in the imagination of the Celts; from which we may with some probability infer that they reckoned their year from Hallowe'en rather than Beltane. Another circumstance of great moment which points to the same conclusion is the association of the dead with Hallowe'en. Not only among the Celts but throughout Europe, Hallowe'en, the night which marks the transition from autumn to winner, seems to have been of old the time of year when the souls of the departed were supposed to revisit their old homes in order to warm themselves by the fire and comfort themselves with the good cheer provided for them in the kitchen or the parlour by their affectionate kinsfolk."
(The Golden Bough, James Frazer, pgs. 730-732)

Still, the Druid/rune plot line is not as outlandish as it may seem. Human sacrifices were most likely committed on Samhain and Beltane by the Celts, though it bears emphasizing that these victims were by all accounts convicted criminals (the execution of which in a ritualistic fashion occurs in numerous cultures) and not the innocents the conspiratorial right typically depicts them as.
"Condemned criminals were reserved by the Celts in order to be sacrificed to the gods at a great festival which took place once in every five years. The more there were of such victims, the greater was believed to be the fertility of the land. If there were not enough criminals to furnish victims, captives taken in war were immolated to supply the deficiency. When the time came the victims were sacrificed by the Druids or priests. Some they shot down with arrows, some they impaled, and some they burned alive in the following manner. Colossal images of wicker-work or of wood and grass were constructed; these were filled with live men, cattle, and animals of other kinds; fire was then applied to the images, and they were burned with their living contents.  
"Such were the great festivals held once every five years. But besides these quinquennial festivals, celebrated on so grand a scale, and with, apparently, so large an expenditure of human life, it seemed reasonable to suppose that festivals of the same sort, only on a lesser scale, were held annually, and that from these annual festivals are lineally descended some at least of the fire-festivals which, with their traces of human sacrifice, are still celebrated year by year in many parts of Europe. The gigantic images constructed of osiers or covered with grass in which the Druids enclosed their victims remind us of the leafy framework in which the human representative of the tree-spirit is still so often encased."
(ibid, pg. 745-746)
the infamous wicker man

Beyond this, a sacred alphabet was a major feature of druidistic paganism, though it was not runic per se. They did have something very similar, however, known as Ogham inscriptions, which were likely used initially as a kind of elaborate sign language before being chiseled into wood and the like when the Druids were in decline.
"... In Ireland Oghams were not used in public inscriptions until Druidism began to decline: they had been kept a dark secret and when used for written messages between one Druid and another, nicked on wooden billets, were usually cyphered. The four sets, each of five characters... represented fingers used in a sign language... Each letter in the inscriptions consists of nicks, from one to five in number, cut with a chisel along the edge of a squared stones; there are four different varieties of nick, which makes twenty letters. I assume that the number of nicks in a letter indicated the number of the digit, counting from left to right, on which the letter occurred in the finger language, while the variety of nick indicated the position of the letter on the digit. There were other methods of using the alphabets for secret signaling purposes. The Book of Ballymote refers to Cos-ogham ('leg-ogham') in which the signaler, while seated, used his fingers to imitate inscriptional Ogham with his shin bone serving as the edge against which the nicks were cut. In Sron-ogham ('nose-ogham') the nose was used in much the same way. These alternative methods were useful for signaling across a room; the key-board method for closer work."
(The White Goddess, Robert Graves, pg. 114)

All of these make the mythology of Halloween 6 surprisingly apt at a synchronistic level. In the next installment of this series we shall apply the rather elaborate mythology screenwriter Daniel Farrands created for the franchise to the different endings of the sixth Halloween film and the implications that it implies. We shall also get around to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation as well as "the meaning of horror." Stay tuned.

Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Targeted by Cyber Attack



Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Targeted by Cyber Attack
Published March 29, 2013
FOXBusiness
Just as Bitcoin explodes beyond the $1 billion mark thanks to Europe’s debt crisis, the emerging virtual currency was dealt a setback this week after a key exchange was hit by a powerful cyber attack that caused delays.
Coupled with other recent technical glitches, this week’s distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox cuts into one of the electronic currency’s greatest selling points: its relative safety compared with deposits in Cyprus.
In a message posted on its official Twitter account, Japan-based Mt. Gox told users Thursday night it was “experiencing a major DDoS” attack. Within hours Mt. Gox said the issue had been resolved.
The exchange didn’t respond to a request for further comment on the DDoS attack.
According to the Mt. Gox website, it is the “world’s most established Bitcoin exchange” and the only multi-currency Bitcoin trading platform.
"This attack demonstrates both the worth of Bitcoin and the value of its business availability. Now there are new risks to both,” said Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware (RDWR).
Earlier this week payments startup Dwolla, which is also used to trade Bitcoins, suffered from an apparent DDoS attack as well. 
Established in 2009, Bitcoin has emerged as a winner in the controversy surrounding Europe’s decision to “bail in” bank depositors in Cyprus to pay for a rescue of the tiny island country’s outsized banking system.
The virtual currency is built on an open-source software code and unlike traditional currencies is highly decentralized, making it appealing to those worried about the safety of the monetary system. Bitcoin also says its accounts can’t be seized by local authorities, setting it apart from bank deposits in Cyprus.
Underscoring the surge of activity in the virtual currency, one Bitcoin traded as high as $93.06 on Friday, up a whopping 125% from the beginning of March. The value of Bitcoins outstanding has also now surpassed the $1 billion threshold.
Bitcoin “is clearly having a breakthrough moment here, and a deeply surprising one given its novelty and nascent infrastructure,” Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx, wrote in a recent note.
However, Bitcoin has also faced technical glitches, including one on March 12 that caused the currency’s value to briefly tumble 23% before recovering.
“Bitcoin is of course wholly dependent upon the functioning of the Internet,”said  Daniel Friedberg, a financial-services attorney at Seattle law firm Graham & Dunn who has a Bitcoin client base.
“Users of Bitcoin are not used to any ‘down time’ and have grown accustomed to being able to immediately convert the Bitcoin virtual currency into real legal tender, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any disruption at all creates customer complaints,” he said.
Bitcoin isn’t alone in grappling with cyber attacks. Hacktivists have increasingly set their sets on the U.S. financial system, slowing access to the websites of big banks like J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) in recent months.
Earlier this week Wells Fargo (WFC), the largest U.S. bank by market capitalization, acknowledged its consumer banking website was the victim of a DDoS attack.
AMERICA'S "GONE WITH THE WIND" GOVERNMENT


By Dr. Carl Parnell, Ed.,D
March
31, 2013
NewsWithViews.com        http://www.newswithviews.com/Parnell/carl123.htm
Slavery was one of the dominant institutions that existed in the Old South prior to the Civil War. However, many Northern abolitionists, those who abhorred slavery, and even some Southerners spoke out against the awful treatment of slaves by their Southern masters and the negative effects that slavery had on the Southern economy. In fact, two books were published in the nineteenth century that discussed the negative side of slavery in the Old South. The first book was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was published by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852. According to Wikipedia, “the sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings. Also, it is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s.” In 1855, when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe at a gathering at the start of the Civil War, he declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.” Therefore, President Lincoln recognized the effect of the words in Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a catalyst in stirring up hatred for the institution of slavery in the Old South and possibly a background cause for the Civil War.
The second book was The Impending Crisis of the South, which was published by Hilton Rowan Helper in 1857. According to Wikipedia, “it was a strong attack on slavery as inefficient and a barrier to the economic advancement of whites. The book was widely distributed by Horace Greeley and other antislavery leaders, and infuriated Southern leaders.” Also, according to Mr. Helper, “slavery hurt the Southern economy by preventing economic development and industrialization, and that it was the main reason why the South had progressed so much less than the North.” Also, he spoke out aggressively against slavery when he said, “Freesoilers and abolitionists are the only true friends of the South; slaveholders and slave-breeders are downright enemies of their own section. Anti-slavery men are working for the Union and for the good of the whole world; proslavery men are working for the disunion of the States, and for the good of nothing except themselves.” Therefore, the fiery words of Hinton Rowan Helper in The Impending Crisis of the South also were a catalyst in stirring up hatred for the institution of slavery in the Old South and possibly a background cause for the Civil War.
Surprisingly, though, approximately seventy years after the Civil War, a twentieth century Southern Belle published a novel that depicted the glory days of the Old South before the Civil War and the rebuilding of the Old South after the Civil War. This Southern Belle was Margaret Mitchell and her famous book was Gone with the Wind, which was first published in 1936. Gone with the Wind, according to Wikipedia, “is a metaphor for the departure of a way of life that existed in the South prior to the Civil War.” Of course, it was this departure that created a New South that was not based on the ways of living that the Old South had strived on for many decades. As a result, the winds of change that blew through the South after the Civil War created a totally new way of life that was extremely strange to those whose life was centered on the plantation system and the institution of slavery. Also, the winds of change in the New South after the Civil War were extremely difficult for those who had lived in the Old South to accept and to promote. Therefore, the way of living in the South that promoted the institution of slavery and that was denounced in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Impending Crisis of the South was now over after the last battles of the Civil War. A negative and costly part of the Southern society was finally “Gone with the Wind.”
Now, seventy-seven years later, new winds of change have blown not only through the South but also through the North. Unfortunately, as a result of these new winds of change, the United States government has “Gone with the Wind,” too. But, how has the United States government “Gone with the Wind” and possibly changed America’s society forever? First, the current government does not have the personal interest of the citizens that it represents at heart, as did the government sixty years ago. As a result, more and more of the freedoms of law-abiding American citizens have been eliminated, with the rationale that giving up certain freedoms will insure the safety of the masses. However, in reality, this is possibly the greatest myth put forth by the United States’ government and its elected politicians. Therefore, Americans do not feel as safe today as they did sixty years ago during the two-term presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, since his view of how the government should operate has “Gone with the Wind” now.
But, why would Americans have felt much safer during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower than they do now during the current Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama? The reason that America and its people are not as safe today with the government of President Obama would be his attitude toward people and his position as President of the United States. Simply speaking, President Obama is more concerned about his position and control of the nation rather than the people. However, President Eisenhower was concerned about the people who elected him to office. This can be seen in many of the quotes made by President Eisenhower during his tenure in office. Therefore, let’s look at the following four quotes made by President Eisenhower:
1. Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. (Brainy Quote)
2. Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. (Brainy Quote)
3. You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership. (Brainy Quote)
4. I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it. (Brainy Quote)
Ultimately, these quotes by former President Eisenhower are uncanny and somewhat scary. These quotes appear to be prophetic sayings from the 1950s that apply to America’s current governmental leadership. Needless to say, it appears that God permitted President Eisenhower to warn all Americans to be aware of any government in the future that would do the exact opposite of what he said in his quotes. Sadly, though, the current administration is doing exactly what President Eisenhower said should never happen at the hands of leadership in America. Therefore, let’s rewrite these quotes made by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower as the current administration might write them and apply them to America today. A modern day version of President Eisenhower’s quotes might just be as follows:
1. Politics ought to be a full-time profession of those citizens who are more concerned about keeping their elective office rather than protecting the rights and privileges of free people and not be concerned with the preservation of what is good and fruitful in America’s national heritage.
2. Even though Americans are descendants of those brave men and women who won their independence from Great Britain by dissent and death, we will not permit any dissent against the agenda that the current administration purports. Any dissent of any kind will be viewed as disloyal subversion and those guilty of such dissent should expect to be punished.
3. In postmodern America, the only fruitful manner in which to lead is to permit elected leaders to impose their will on the masses. Of course, it is our governmental responsibility to do whatever is necessary to achieve our objectives, even if innocent Americans have to be arrested and or assassinated.
4. We realize that the American people can do more to promote peace than the government. However, even though people want peace and freedoms, we governmental leaders do not worry about the masses attempting to usurp our authority and control over them as long as we keep the “Bread and Circus” benefits (free government handouts) coming their way. (As stated by Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (1835), “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.” Of course, unfortunately, that day has arrived.)
Ultimately, any person who would read President Eisenhower’s quotes of the 1950s and then read the possible revision of his quotes in 2013, it would stand to reason that the type of government promoted in the American Creed, which was written by William Tyler Page in 1917and adopted by the House of Representatives on April 3, 1918, has “Gone with the Wind.” The actual creed reads,
I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
Therefore, in discussing how the winds of change have affected the American government in a negative manner, several questions should be asked by everyone concerning what Americans say they believe about their government and what they actually believe. The questions are as follows:
Is the American government, as it exists today, truly a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people?”
Are all the powers of the American government, as it exists today, derived from the consent of the governed?
Do all Americans and their elected leaders promote the sovereignty of the United States or are they attempting to eliminate America’s sovereignty for the purpose of globalism and a one world government?
Is America a perfect union, one and inseparable?
Are the principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity still part of the American society?
Do all Americans really love their country or do they just want the benefits of it?
Do all America’s elected leaders really support the Constitution written by the Founding Fathers or do they continually attempt to circumvent its authority as the Supreme Law of the Land?
Do all Americans obey the laws of the land?
Do all Americans respect and pledge allegiance to the United States flag?
Are all Americans willing and ready to defend it against its enemies, provided the government does not achieve its goal to take all weapons out of the hands of American citizens?

Finally, since many Americans would answer “NO” too many of these questions, it is obvious that the America of 2013 is definitely not synonymous with the America of 1950. Instead, the government of the 1950s, which was truly a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” has been replaced with the government of 2013, which is a government “of the government, by the government, and for the government.” Therefore, if the government under President Obama continues its current agenda, the Constitutional Republic established by the Founding Fathers will die, will be cremated, will blow away in the wind of change, and will be gone forever.
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