The Linux Paradigm

Everywhere I look at present, people seem to be waving the ‘white flag in a temporary truce’. What is more, it is understandable. I have used Linux on and, mostly, off for many years. The main reason for my installation of Linux is privacy and open source. The main reason I switch back — usability. I know, this will likely provoke howls of terminal outrage (pun intended) from those who have long walked the kernel path....

December 26, 2021 · 8 min read · 1634 words

Art as Background

J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) was growing up, and remains to this day, one of my favourite artists. He painted, printed and drew prodigiously, leaving to posterity a collection of more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours and 30,000 works on paper. Part of my fascination with Turner stems from my god-father, who wrote the book Angel in the Sun, about Turner’s vision of history. He sent me a copy in the late 1990s when I was in my first flush of university study, an impressionable age, and my interest in Turner’s work has blossomed ever since....

August 2, 2020 · 2 min read · 341 words

Take Notes, No One Is Watching

I recently switched my note taking app to Standard Notes. Part of the reason for the shift is technological. The application, both desktop and mobile, is blazingly fast and nurtures my love of minimalist design. No mess, no fuss, just me and my text. The other part of my reasoning is philosophical. Standard Notes have one of the clearest and appealing manifestos for privacy I have read. They advocate 5 key domains as the bedrock of their platform....

June 3, 2020 · 2 min read · 352 words

Distributism

Sir Humphrey: East Yemen, isn’t that a democracy?Foreign Office Official: Its full name is the People’s Democratic Republic of East Yemen. Sir Humphrey: Ah I see, so it’s a communist dictatorship. — Yes, Minister When casting around the names of the nations of the world, one is tempted to think Oscar Wilde was onto something when he observed ‘Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life,’ because countries with ‘Democratic’ in their name would challenge even Isocrates to make a convincing argument for their democratic composition....

May 29, 2020 · 2 min read · 365 words

The New Commons

In 1941, during his inaugural address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated: The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the Middle Ages. It was written in Magna Charta. Stirring oratory to be sure, but Manga Carta is perhaps better understood, to paraphrase Simon Schama, as the death certificate of despotism rather than the birth certificate of freedom....

May 28, 2020 · 2 min read · 310 words

Airbrushing Memory

In his seminal 1920 book Liberty and the News, Walter Lippmann warned: [those] who have lost their grip upon the relevant facts of their environment are the inevitable victims of agitation and propaganda. The quack, the charlatan, the jingo . . . can flourish only where the audience is deprived of independent access to information. In a sense this is both self-evident and the justification for journalists and whistle-blowers the world over....

May 23, 2020 · 3 min read · 460 words

Code is Speech?

In the early 1990’s, Daniel Bernstein, a Berkeley mathematics PhD student, wanted to publish the source code for an encryption algorithm he had written along with an accompanying mathematics paper. In the age of Github, such an event would go largely noticed. Particularly if the author is a student, who usually struggle to get their professors to read their work, let alone anyone else. But in the 1990’s, this was groundbreaking....

May 19, 2020 · 3 min read · 627 words

Language Defect: Privacy

In around 1140, a Spanish Jewish philosopher and poet, Judah Halevi (יהודה הלוי), wrote perhaps his most famous book. The Kuzari, or to give it its full title The Book of Proof and Evidence in Support of the Abased Religion, took the form of a dialogue between a rabbi and a pagan. The central theme of the work was the existence of a ‘God of history’ rather than an abstract God of the philosophers'....

May 18, 2020 · 3 min read · 469 words

How I Publish

This article has been superseded by Version 3.0 which discusses my move to the Ghost(Pro) publishing platform. In two recent articles, I mused on Why I Write and, at present, for whom I write. Today I want to explore how I publish. I am old enough to remember when the <blink> tag was used not as a retro pose, or to be ironic, and when sending a newsletter meant formatting your text in <html>....

May 14, 2020 · 2 min read · 298 words

So this is how privacy dies...

Maciej Cegłowski coined a phrase which I think should resonate far beyond the circles in which it currently does. The phrase: ‘ambient privacy’. He defined it as: the understanding that there is value in having our everyday interactions with one another remain outside the reach of monitoring, and that the small details of our daily lives should pass by unremembered. What we do at home, work, church, school, or in our leisure time does not belong in a permanent record....

May 11, 2020 · 4 min read · 645 words