Calls To Limit Speech In The Snowden Era Underscore The Importance Of A Free Press

Did I just cheer out loud? Hell yes!


Happy Halloween!

I’ve always wanted to host a big Halloween party, with costumes and decorations and food and scary music. I really have to do that next year.

Instead, here are two really good, creepy books:

The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. The best part about this book, as many people have pointed out, is that you never actually see anything. As with the movie The Blair Witch Project, you have to imagine pretty much everything that happens … and your imagination is far scarier than anything anything any writer or director can show you, because it’s what scares you (like the fear simulations in Divergent). Great book, very atmospheric and just creepy from start to finish.

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. Not as quite creepy as it was made out to be when I was reading it, but it stuck with me. Might make a good movie someday, if some plot lines could be explored a little further.

And because you have to snack when you read, here’s a recipe for Pumpkin Dip that a friend shared with me about 10 years ago. It’s easy and good and has pumpkin in it — enough said. Serve with apple slices and ginger snaps.


Another reason to admire Jeff Bezos


I recently read the (amazing) book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (go get it right now). It was fascinating and, honestly, inspiring. It made me rethink nearly everything about the (also amazing) company I work for … I can remember feeling the same way one of the early Amazon (it looks weird to capitalize that) employees felt: “I don’t know if this is going to work or I’ll be out of a job tomorrow, but I want to be here when it happens.” Amen, brother.

I was very excited and hopeful when it was announced that Bezos was buying The Washington Post. Fantastic newspaper with a long tradition of investigative journalism and of protecting reporters and sources (see Watergate, the Pentagon Papers and more recently, the Snowden leaks) that if anyone can bring back to a “golden age,” Bezos can — and has maintained that it is his intention to do so. (And after you read the book, you’ll know that if he intends to do something, he’ll do it or pretty much die — or kill everyone else, metaphorically speaking — trying.)

So the Atlantic Wire (another venerable journalistic institution that’s thriving in the so-called digital age) reported yesterday that Bob Woodward (speaking of venerable journalistic institutions) has been more of a presence in the Post newsroom lately, and that he and Bezos share a similar vision for the future of the paper. Now that’s exciting. 

And smart. Bezos has no illusion that he knows how to run a newspaper. He just knows how to enable a newspaper to be run well. He has the resources (read: cash), the ideas, the technology and the desire to make the Post a leader in news. I love the Post, so that makes me very, very happy. 

(While you’re at it, Jeff, can you get rid of that paywall? I can only read 20 stories a month for free!)


The Fifth Estate vs. WikiLeaks (update)

Here’s the link to the discussion about the movie that was hosted by the EFF and Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The movie opens tomorrow — if you go see it, be mindful of what the panelists discuss: it’s only one side of the story.

Check out Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book on which the movie is based, the movie We Steal Secrets, and and and all other resources.  Inform yourself!

If you’re feeling gossipy, read about the “open letters” between Benedict Cumberbatch (fantastic name) and Julian Assange.

Don’t let the door hit you on the ass…

So today we get word that Army Gen. Keith Alexander — head of both the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command — is retiring. And of course, that was planned all along, and his departure, and that of his chief deputy, have nothing at all to do with the sustained and well-organized outcry about the NSA’s blatant disregard for the Fourth Amendment and any sense of ethical propriety.

Don’t be fooled, brothers and sisters, this is a victory. If nothing else, it forces the agencies to make changes. Hopefully positive ones.

Read the Reuters article here.

Viva the EFF!

Great article in today’s Washington Post about the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Read it here

Fantastic organization, and I’ve said on more than one occasion that I wish they were on the East Coast. EFF peeps, if you don’t like DC, come to Virginia … you’ll be close enough to DC but far enough to escape the taint!

Find out more about the EFF and donate to their ongoing efforts to protect your rights online and off.

P.S. Please attend their event tonight about the movie The Fifth Estate (see yesterday’s post) if you’re luck enough to live nearby.


Feeling a little snarky today …

My first reaction to this story was to smirk and say (to myself): “serves them right” …

Meltdowns Hobble NSA Data Center

… my second was “I wonder who’s doing it?”

And then I realized they’ll just want more of my tax money to pay to fix it so they can spy on me some more.

So I suppose that serves me right.

Event: The Fifth Estate vs. WikiLeaks

Late notice, but wanted to get this event out there:

The Fifth Estate v. WikiLeaks: Unraveling Fact from Fiction in Hollywood’s Dramatization of the WikiLeaks Story,

October 11, 2013 – 5:30pm

San Francisco, CA

Hosted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Note: Time changed! From the halls of Washington to the streets of Tunis, the names Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have proven not only impossible to ignore, but cataclysmic in both the worlds of politics and journalism. Now the first major Hollywood film adaptation is about to be released, but how accurately does it reflect reality?

Electronic Frontier Foundation legal Director Cindy Cohn, Wired Senior Reporter Kim Zetter, Forbes senior online editor Kashmir Hill, and Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder Rainey Reitman will discuss what the film gets right and wrong during a panel discussion. Each have followed WikiLeaks closely for many years and, in fact, both EFF and Zetter are name-checked in the film.

The panel will begin at 5:30 PM. The discussion will be filmed and posted to the Freedom of the Press Foundation website.

If I lived in or could get to SF in time, I’d be there! Sigh…suppose I’ll just have to wait for the posting, which I’ll link to here ASAP. If you go, let me hear from how it went!


Stop bitching, start acting

Greetings, fellow rebel!

This man understands what it means to be a reporter

Barton Gellman of The Washington Post gets my hero award today … speaking at the Cato Institute, he explains why  he defied the government’s request not to publish the names of the companies cooperating with the PRISM program:

The thing that the government most wanted us to remove was the names of the nine companies. The argument, roughly speaking, was that we will lose cooperation from companies if you expose them in this way. And my reply was “that’s why we are including them.” Not in order to cause a certain result, or to get you to lose your cooperation but if the harm that you are describing consists of reputational or business damage to a company because the public doesn’t like what it’s doing or you’re doing, that’s the accountability we are supposed to be promoting.

Read the whole (short) article here.

Gellman also posits that the revelation of their identities is what made them all of the sudden very concerned about the transparency of NSA/FISC requests, and I think he’s right. Their reactions have been lukewarm at best — they did far more to combat SOPA/PIPA — but they seem to be leaving this fight to the Ladar Levisons and Electronic Frontier Foundations of the world. If companies including Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook banded together and said “No — or else,” Washington would have no choice but to listen, just like they did with SOPA/PIPA. It is their noblesse oblige to do so.




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