Crazy Stories About Assange & Snowden, #badBIOS, And The Mind (and Ukraine)

First of all, from the “All those in favor of gun control, raise your right hand, palm down” department —

“[The special police] stopped because we had several pieces of firearms, Lutsenko said. I personally heard the communications of interior troops officers, who when
ordered to attack would respond in Russian (with an expletive). When Berkut was ordered to attack, they would say we havent been paid for this.’ The
danger of death has stopped them.”
http://www.kyivpost.com/content/kyiv/euromaidan-rallies-in-ukraine-feb-21-live-updates-337287.html

I’m not even going to try and sum up the events of today, but suffice to say the protesters won. Yanukovych may have changed his mind about resigning but when the freshly released Tymoshenko hits the stage he’ll be lucky to keep his head. (Parliament just voted 328-0 to impeach Yanukovych, as I write this.)

As if in answer to the “Western” vs “Eastern” Ukraine thing, the protests quite thoroughly spread to ALL parts of the country, with Ukraine’s Interior Ministry (who is in charge of the police & Berkut special police) releasing a statement — they now support the protesters! The Interior Ministry even signed their message with a revolutionary slogan.

Would-be revolutionaries, take note. THIS is how you run an uprising, with a (relatively) fast transition as the entire government realizes they’re actually beholden to the people, and adjust course accordingly.

The protesters behaved civilly too — finally getting past the snipers, they now control the entire city of Kiev (properly spelled Kyiv, it turns out) including the federal government quarter. Rather than ransacking it, the demonstrators are guarding it, and parliament has been running as if freshly oiled. Sounds like the Ukrainian people finally learned to take responsibility!

Second, from Luke Harding on writing his book on Snowden.

“I wrote that Snowden’s revelations had damaged US tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. […]

Over the next few weeks these incidents of remote deletion happened several times. There was no fixed pattern but it tended to occur when I wrote disparagingly of the NSA. All authors expect criticism. But criticism before publication by an anonymous, divine third party is something novel.” [1]

One of many remarkable quotes in an article on writing a book that was nevertheless much-criticized.

Consider too that he was working offline — for this to happen, can you say #badBIOS?

Also, it’s telling that the CIA man who approached him in Rio wanted a photo, and just as telling that Harding let the guy take it. (There are plenty of photos of Harding floating around — why bother? Some ‘advanced psychology’?)

Third, a very very long article from the ghostwriter who did Assange’s “unauthorized autobiography.” [2]

Its length is probably the author’s gift to Assange in keeping people from reading it, but it’s a wonderful glimpse into the man’s personality.

Yes, it has a bit of an adversarial perspective. But its observations are largely consistent with what I’ve grasped from watching the Wikileaks Twitter feed.

One thing that O’Hagan observes is Assange’s habit of turning friends into enemies. I think it’s critically important to consider WHY this is.

Yes, one can make the argument that spies are no doubt trying to interfere at every turn (taking responsibility and not letting them being the only real defence) but I don’t think that’s enough to explain all of it.

In “Programming and Metaprogramming,” a quite controversial book exploring the human psyche using the mental model of a computer with programs, sub-programs, and meta-programms, John C. Lilly observed a very odd phenomena.

According to him, internal mental ‘programs’ appeared to manifest their outputs partly through others around the subject… depending on your point of view, either distorting the subject’s perceptions to make it appear as if said programs’ outputs were coming through others — or actively influencing others around the subject.

I wonder if there’s something similar going on here, with Assange, where his persecution and prosecution-heavy past created such a ‘mental program’ that assumes everyone’s plotting against him. Certainly this is exactly the sort of thing ‘zersetzung’ or ‘black Dianetics’ tactics would try and create.

(I would note I don’t quite agree with Lilly’s choice of ‘computer programs’ as the basis for his model, it’s probably an artefact of the LSD he was using in his experiments. This was ’50s government mind research, after all.

Other people using other means have observed roughly similar concepts, but developed models corresponding to their methods. The Amazon shamans, for example, see spirits and demons in place of ‘programs’.)

To round this off, O’Hagan’s last few paragraphs on Snowden are extremely telling. You can see the acute difference — Assange as the amateur, while Snowden is a professional. (I’ve written before on the mental difference between the amateur and professional, it’s worth considering.)

“Snowden, while grateful for the advice and the comradeship, was meanwhile playing a cannier game than Julian. He was eager for credit, too, but behaving more subtly, more amiably, and playing with bigger secrets.”

There’s also an absurd moment where Assange observes that Snowden is the ninth best computer hacker in the world, while Assange is number three.

(is there a ranking of this somewhere? international hacking championships? what about random dudes in Iran or whatever?)

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/20/edward-snowden-files-nsa-gchq-luke-harding

[2] http://www.lrb.co.uk/2014/02/21/andrew-ohagan/ghosting

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