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Media Piracy and Unpronounceable Names

By now, if you're one of Charlie's readers, you've probably absorbed the notion that security is a process. It's not easy to go from that to what it means in operant terms, but I lack sense so I'm going to try.

E-books get pirated automatically, inevitably, and with malicious intent. (The usual malice is to use the purportedly free ebook as a malware vector.) Thinking about what would have to be true in order to stop this is instructive; every ebook would have to have a unique identifier, you would have to have a unique identifier, and there would have to be some sort of central repository of transactions that kept records in perpetuity. It wouldn't be restricted to media purchases, because then you have to define "media purchase" (as distinct from "turnips"), which is hard, and if you did, someone could claim to be selling turnips when they were really selling media and cheat the system. So every transaction would have to be uniquely and permanently recorded.

This is bad; this is a tool for finding every donor to your political opponents, either last election or thirty years ago, once you have enough power to inflict harm on them. And once the list exists, it's indestructible; digital copying is cheap. Anything on a computer stays there forever. And because the computer is managed by human beings, adding or deleting transactions will be available for a suitable fee.

Building a system like that to get rid of media piracy is not a net win. In any way. (Yes, this does relate to a current EU political issue, but let's try to keep this abstract.)

Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety says you want to control a system, you have to provide matching variety for the variety of the system, constrain the variety of the system, or provide the control mechanism with a variety amplifier. ("variety" = the number of possible states in a system. Or maybe the amount of information in the system; dragging you into that increasingly fractal exploration of the meaning of meaning is not where I'm going with this.)

The implication, all-too-often missed, is that the variety amplifier is also a system. Which means you want it to be painfully simple, lest you find yourself stacking control systems on control systems into a tottery edifice of fail. Only it has to control something complicated.

This is where a basic principle comes in, for producing systems that work. Do not make simple things complicated, and do not make complicated things simple.

The single quickest way to make simple things complicated is to lump them together. The venerable Unix philosophy of building applications that do one thing, well, has a sound basis in systems theory. You still have to pick which applications you need but the effort involved in making the individual applications work is much easier.

So when it comes to transactional security, well. What are we really trying to do?

We want a system where you don't need to identify yourself to pay for something. (That gets us that global transaction database and all the nasty problems it creates.)

Inevitably, you do need to identify yourself if you want to dispute what you were sold. ("Ordered 12-axis milling machine. Paid for 12-axis milling machine. Received 12 gross Old People Hats in diverse colours. Do not want.")

Ah! So everybody needs some sort of cryptographic true name for transactional purposes.

No. Really, seriously, emphaticaly no, becuase any such thing creates that original global transaction database problem. We really don't want that. (We may have to torch a few credit rating agencies to prevent it, because those entities do want it; the extent to which they've achieved it gives them a great deal of money and power.) This would be even worse than the current practice of using your birthday as an identity token.

There's a rule about authenticating transactions and there's a rule about true names.

The true name rule is that you never, ever want it to be legible. (Not even to you!) You want to be the Wizard Iff of the Unpronouncable Name, with a true name that is impossible to know.

The transaction rule is that all transactions should be push transactions. You send an event. You don't establish any kind of waiting connection or do anything reversible or require both sides to reconcile a transaction history.

Credit cards do not do this; credit cards are a design that assumes humans, terrible communications, and an entire abscence of malice.

If you're buying something, there are in principle at least five parties.

There's the purchasing entity, there's the financial entity used by the purchaser, there's the controlling entity, there's the selling entity, and the selling entity's financial entity.

Even if you buy something with cash at the corner store; there's a government backing that cash. The controlling entity is any government involved for things like customs tarriffs or taxation. (VAT, HST, sales tax, etc.) There can easily be more than one.

Who needs to do what?

You, the purchasing entity, need to know how much you spent; you need to be able to prove you paid for a specific bill of goods to both the seller and at least one controlling entity. You need to be able to prove what the delivery requirement you contracted for was as a component of the transaction. You want to be able to do this without access to the seller's databases and without leaving information about yourself with the seller.

The selling entity needs to know how much it recieved and to associate that with a specific bill of goods and a delivery requirement. ("Someone sent us €116.83; why?" It's important to be able to answer this question.) The selling entity also needs to be able to prove recipts to at least one controlling entity.

The controlling entity needs to know what was sold (Maybe "clothing" is a different tariff category than "floatation device", but you wear a flotation device, so there's ambiguity), for how much, and between who. There has to be a capacity for a tax audit. (Sometimes the purchaser is BAE Systems!) (There often literally isn't that capacity for audit, these days. Too much volume, insufficient support for automation.)

Pretty much everyone involved has an interest in being able to prove that "this is a real transaction identifier" without knowing anything about the transaction. (Innovative cryptographers are not common because the problems are hard!)

Now, I think this stuff is fascinating, but getting into how rather than what is entirely inappropriate here.

So let's look at what a credit card purchase by a private individual looks like in a system that follows both rules: everything is a push; no one knows your true name.

You bring your collection of items that you've picked from the presented inventory to a checkout location. That might be a physical store; it might be an online store.

You push a goods request to the merchant. You are not creating a "we started talking about something" identifier; if you bind all of these steps together like that, you're created that global transaction database because things stop being events and start being tendencies. You want to look doubtfully and carefully at any perceived necessity to associate each step with the previous step, and at a requirement no one entity has all the steps. (There will need to be laws to keep it that way.)

The goods request you pushed includes some means of contacting you. (SMS, email, NFC phone crypto module, but under no circumstances a physical electronic token. Physical token security is six separate nightmares with progressively longer teeth.) This contact address can be, and should be, unique to this goods request. ("100 disposable SMS addresses for purchases" is just the sort of thing your mobile service provider wants to sell you.)

The checkout location has some means (cashier, scanning device, website commerical automation...) to generate a quote from your goods request, and it pushes the quote to your contact address. The quote comes with a payment target. The payment target is (likely) crypto-gable that your device can authenticate as the correct kind of crypto gable, but not actually decode. The payment target includes the payment amount generated with the quote.

You push the plain-text amount and the payment target to your financial institution's "pay this" mechanism. If you flubbed the plain-text amount, the cross-check doesn't complete the payment; it pushes an error message to you. The financial institution does know how to read the payment target crypto-gabble and pushes the money to the receiving location in the payment target you got with the quote. (You never know what that was.)

When the receiver institution gets the money, they push the quote identifier and "payment completed" to the merchant. The merchant knows nothing about what you did to pay; in principle, you might have weighed out rhenium powder in front of a grave and dignified older person whose financial institution then generated the transaction to the merchant's.

Your purchase is released or shipped. Ideally, the destination is handled the same way as the payment target; the merchant gets it as crypto gabble they can authenticate as the correct sort of crypto-gabble, but not outright read. They use their shipping service to get a quote back to know how much to charge you for shipping, and bundle that with the quote they sent you for the goods.

That's way less convenient than what happens now, becuase you have to respond three times; you have to push the goods request, the payment, and the destination as distinct events with different intermediaries. Why would you want to do that instead of the usual looks-like-five-steps "give us all the information and commit" -- what you want to buy, who you are, your payment details, where to send it, are you sure? -- that's generally used now?

Because you don't have to put any of your actual details out there. The merchant never knows who you bank with; they just know they sent a quote, and the quote got paid. The merchant never needs to use your home address as part of the authentication process for your credit card and their database never holds your credit card number. You never have a credit card number because all payment orders are one-time. Even with your bank, you didn't tell them your true name; you followed a push-only processes with the bank, at least two tokens you've got, and the (public!) name repository to generate a specific persistent identity distinct from your true name with the bank. (You might want to consider a rule that no individual ever knows what a majority of the tokens involved in any name-referencing transaction are.)

If you need to dispute your goods received or dispute a charge, things get tricky; someone has to be able to unwrap multiple steps of the transaction. The pieces are all there, but often the pieces will be in different national jurisdictions. There probably ought to be a court system for this, so no commercial entity ever has the ability to open a majority of the individual push events in a complete transaction.

How to do this -- sensibly, publicly, without relying on secrecy in the algorithms and with tolerable convenience -- isn't easy. It won't fix book piracy, either.

But it would help a lot of other things.

198 Comments

1:

MODERATION NOTE

Charlie here. I have to duck and run (got stuff to do) but just saying, if you're typing in the comment box right after you read the first paragraph and responded to the bell in order to drool "teh blockchainz is teh answer!!!" you will be soundly mocked when I get back to the keyboard.

Hint: a process that exceeds the electricity consumption of the existing Visa network by 3+ orders of magnitude is not a viable solution. (Source.)

2:

My brain now hurts from reading all that .....
"push transaction" - meaning that You or I ( or any participant in these actions? ) only sends data/information in single bursts & then waits for response(s) from other interested parties, yes?
What happens if the response is from a very interested but malicious party [ Hacker, theof, guvminy evil agency, cthulu, etc ... ] ???
How do you, or indeed any valid participant tell/distinguish between valid & invalid actions?
[ Same problem as malicious emails, I know, but there's MONEY involved. ]

3:

I'll bite :)

AFAIK what Graydon is proposing fits with blockchain-as-a-subclass-of-distributed database (its just a database innit!) model, not batshit-libertarian-cryptocurrency-pyramid-scheme and there is no particular lower bound on the efficiency of the signing processes for such a database.

*Disclaimer I view blockchain as a fad du jour, and have done just enough research on it to re-inforce that cynicism.

**ducks and runs from wrath of Charlie**

4:

By Nation or National, I mean a county which is a member of the United Nations in its own right.

This discussion gets even more complicated when we consider a Nation like the USA, where "sales tax" can be set or varied at National, state, city/county and even regional level (eg you may pay a higher rate of sales tax in Manhattan than you would in Harlem, for the same item), compared with Europe where a Nation will set a single rate of "sales tax" (called Value Added Tax or VAT) for all items in a given category irrespective of where in that Nation the purchaser resides and/or the retailer is located.

5:

And that's the really maybe too simplified version!

A push transaction is when you throw something over a (specific) wall and trust that the right thing will be done with it.

Because the system designer was not an idiot, you try very hard (through cryptography and keeping any one participating entity from having all the pieces) for there to be no option of doing the wrong thing; you can do nothing, or the right thing.

So (for example) your push "pay the merchant" transaction doesn't get a response; it cascades through your bank, the merchant's bank, some number of controlling authorities (taxes or customs), the merchant, and in principle the shipper and the next thing you know is that you've got someone on your doorstep who wants you to sign for the twelve gross of Old People Hats.

The merchant probably wants to send you tracking info, but that's a switch they set when they push the "send this" transaction, complete with physical package, to their shipping service. The shipping service pushes "here's your tracking number" to the address you gave the merchant and which the merchant included in their "ship this" request.

6:

Nah, see, the thing with any kind of distributed ledger is that it puts all the events in the transaction in one place. A less destructive implementation than bitcoin doesn't solve the "all in one place" problem.

"All in one place" is precisely what we don't want the payments infrastructure to be capable of doing.

(Because than $MALIGN_ACTOR can do database searches for who they want to punish.)

7:

That bit about clothing having one rate, and flotation devices having another rate, but (some) flotation devices are wearable? This can also involve the materials, so it turns out canoes made primarily out of something other than wood got lumped in with flotation devices (probably because the first category of which notice was taken was made from Styrofoam) so I have actually paid customs on a pair of pants that were (for customs purposes) a canoe.

"Cut the red tape" is the dangerous slogan of disaster capitalists who don't see why they shouldn't loot anything and everything, critical infrastructure included.

"Disambiguate the state machine" is a (useless, alas) slogan I could really get behind.

8:

Forgive my possible ignorance, but isn't ApplePay a very small (and incomplete) step to your process involving just the payment method. Because with Apple pay the seller never gets to see the details of how the money is getting to them?

9:

And after all of this is set up why wouldn't merchants start offering a 5% discount to everyone who is willing to supply details? I get 2% to 5% off of many of my purchases with such today. As much as I wish it wasn't so but when I look close every such program I use has my details anyway so why not extract something in exchange?

I suspect only about 1 in 100 would object. Based on my observations, discussion, and the blank stares I get when discussing such things with people. Smart people at that.

10:

Disclaimer: I operate on the fringes of payment systems, but I'm comparatively new to it and certainly wouldn't describe myself as "expert".

A lot of what you describe already happens; a great deal of thought has gone into this (the recommended text I was given, is "Hacking Point-of-Sale", by Slava Gomzin.

Additionally, you appear to have approached it from "what do I want as a customer" / nominal use case perspective; but not from the perspective of someone whose card has been stolen (and who doesn't want to be liable for the sharges incurred by the thief), or a bank (who don't want to be stung when you declare a transaction as fraudulent). There are others with skin in the game, not just the tax-gatherers.

Your five identified players are also known as the customer, and the customer's issuing bank; the merchant, and their acquiring bank; and the switch, or payment gateway (your "controlling entity").

If the system is working correctly and the cardholder is present (i.e. in accordance with Payment Card Industry rules - google "PCI-DSS"), the merchant shouldn't ever know your account number or name. They can only have the first six and the last four digits for your receipt. Only the card reader sees the full account number, and it can't/won't tell. That's why you'll see a Verifone or Ingenico or Miura card reader in the store - they sell encrypted devices, that have been audited and found acceptable.

The various switches / payment gateways offer competing solutions to banks, based on how much they charge, how many banks they're able to talk to, and how good are their fraud detection / fraud prevention systems (i.e. the bank phones you up to ask whether you really wanted to buy that £500 toolset in country X, seeing as ten minutes ago you were in country Y).

The merchant doesn't need to know your name and address; and they won't even need to see you sign something unless you exceed a bank-defined limit. Those things are for e-commerce, and serve as additional customer verification mechanisms; the merchant's e-commerce system shouldn't be holding on to account numbers unless you allow them. If you phone a merchant or callcentre, and they ask for your number, AIUI they are now required to do all account number entry using one of those encrypted card readers.

There's even the option to pull in a Consumer Device as a Cardholder Verification Mechanism; if your phone can do an iris scan / thumbprint check, it's as good (from the acquiring bank's perspective) as a signature - makes it a bit harder to repudiate a valid transaction ("I'll just buy that £500 toolset, then declare my card stolen")

Meanwhile, an awkward question. How does your proposed system cope, if internet access is absent? Say, a power cut at the store takes down the store's modem/router?

Next, money laundering. If the source of the funds are unattributable, how much easier have you just made it to turn dirty money into clean?

Now, personal record keeping. You've worked hard at separating "what have I spent" from "who did I spend it with", what is your bank statement going to look like?

Finally, how different is it from a properly-set-up P2PE solution?

https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/assessors_and_solutions/point_to_point_encryption_solutions

11:

*SIGH*

First, at least 80% of the world will say, "huh?!", and when asked to elucidate, will tell you that it's all too mind-bogglingly complicated.

Second, I want to know the vendor, and I want them to know me, so that if I yell at them, they can't just blow me off, because they are forced to agree that I was the one buying the milling machine. In fact, if it's not obfuscated, I can send them back the receipt for the original order, and say, "SEE?! YOU FUCKED UP!".

Third, there are things I'm willing to let be known (yes, I did pay for the hotel room at the con with that credit card), and others, well, I can still carry cash, to pay this restaurant. Or I write a check for dealers, who often prefer that to paying the credit card fees.

Fourth, prove that you bought that. I mean, really. Here, folks, I bought that starter motor here, and I get a refund for bringing in the old, dead one.

And, finally... this is all *so* vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack.

Thank you, but at the end of the day, I want money backed by a national gummint, not some Ponzi scheme of a cryptocurrency that is worth x dollars because he, and he, and he say it is.

12:

I would expect that if you could get this implemented at all, there would be laws about that.

The point of the thought experiment is "what do yo have to do to make it impractical if not impossible for $MALIGN_ACTOR to search everybody's transaction history for purposes of social operant conditioning in $MALIGN_ACTOR's interests." (As is being rolled out in China, with special attention being paid to erasing the cultural identity of non-Han populations.)

13:

I think the "controlling entity" is whoever is writing the laws which, er, control the rules used for the transaction.

If there's no connectivity you've got the same problem you've got now; no validation. Given a pure push-infrastructure, it'd fail, because if you're standing right there you can presumably both produce a goods request (by dropping the items on the counter) and get a quote (pencil and paper addition by candlelight if absolutely necessary) the payment step can't happen. Your bank isn't in the store with you. I can imagine a pre-paid setup similar to current NFC contact payment schemes that pre-approves a certain amount of currency, so if it's a small purchase it could happen if the merchant can receive it. (Probably not if it's a candlelight situation! Might have to fall back to cash.)

Money laundering relies on cash transactions. Without banning cash (which I don't want), you can't prevent someone from running a restaurant and reporting more sales than occur and then depositing that cash. You could set an upper limit on cash transactions (well, keep, in many jurisdictions), and every deposit to a financial institution requires you to invoke your specific identity which you can't get without already being in the public true name reference system, so I'd expect that you'd find money laundering no easier. (the major money laundering problem right now is corrupt banks, after all. This doesn't prevent that but does make enforcement pretty straightforward.)

My personal records are a (hopefully searchable, hopefully chronological) list of quotes and list of payment orders. It shouldn't be all that difficult to pair those up. And having the distinct quotes might well help with the "and just who is that with no vowels on my credit card statement?" problem that occurs from time to time already.

But again, while (if competently implemented, which it often is not) the current system is not so bad, it's very vulnerable to a social attack -- the folks who can get the complete ledgers can use those to implement social operant conditioning. We know this, because we can point to examples of it happening. What I'm looking at asking is "how do you implement a general payments system that is unable to support that?" (or the directly political versions; "You donated to $CAUSE, we're stripping your citizenship".)

14:

Personally, I don't do blockchain stuff, but I've got a friend who does, at a programmer level, and I asked him about the "exceeds the electricity consumption of the existing Visa network by 3+ orders of magnitude" problem. His answer was that it was possible to set the initial calculation of the blockchain so that it stayed easier longer; in other words, it might be usable - other issues aside - as a database of transactions. The issue is knowing how to make your initial mathematical calculation of the blockchain's inherent math so that calculations don't become difficult too quickly.

In other words, the problem in calculating Bitcoins is that the initial math underestimated the popularity of the service, thus making calculation of later Bitcoins harder than it should have been.

Or so I'm told. There might be other reasons not to use the blockchain, but the difficultly in calculation isn't one of them; that's something which was deliberately engineered into Bitcoin.

15:

Still trying to get my head wrapped around how to use turnips as a malware vector?

16:

Can them badly, and presto! botulism.

17:

so I have actually paid customs on a pair of pants that were (for customs purposes) a canoe.

The "pants are a canoe" thing is standard in VAT terms; there was a HUGE legal battle in the UK a few years ago between HMRC and $PROCESSED_FOOD_MANUFACTURER over whether Pringles were potato crisps or something else for VAT purposes (and several million pounds in tax), and another over whether Jaffa Cakes are cakes or biscuits for VAT. Once you vanish down the taxonomic rabbit-hole of VAT and customs duty things get weird, fast ...

"Cut the red tape" is the dangerous slogan of disaster capitalists who don't see why they shouldn't loot anything and everything, critical infrastructure included.

I don't want to get into a Brexit discussion here, but this news report (on a Cato Institute think-piece) is, for me, a clear Tell that Brexit is all about disaster capitalism. (Key not-so-buried lede: "A radical blueprint for a free trade deal between the UK and the US that would see the NHS opened to foreign competition, a bonfire of consumer and environmental regulations and freedom of movement between the two countries for workers, is to be launched by prominent Brexiters.")

Getting back to the OP: the desire not to bundle all the information about a transaction in one place is in keeping with the principles of GDPR, the EU's general data protection directive ... and highlights how our current payment systems on the internet fail utterly at protecting us. It also highlights how Bitcoin doesn't address the fundamental privacy problem it purports to tackle, and if you reflect on it for long enough it suggests that our current payment architectures are designed to strip consumer privacy, rather than provide it. Can't think why this might be the case: can you?

18:

if you reflect on it for long enough it suggests that our current payment architectures are designed to strip consumer privacy, rather than provide it. Can't think why this might be the case: can you?

(I may be missing one or both of an implied sarcasm tag or an implied Socratic tag, here.)

Back in the early 1970s, Stafford Beer was writing a lot about the statistical attack on freedom involved in advertising with good statistical technique applied to good data. There's an enormous you-get-what-you-reward-copies-into-the-future incentive to have the best possible consumer preference data; if you're a corporate, you intensely do not want any concept of legitimate fleshy privacy to exist. If they have privacy, it's harder to make them buy stuff. (Facebook is the first massive fortune to be made this way, but there's no reason to suppose it's the last.)

Corporate-identified fleshies are (necessarily, due to the information metabolism of corporates) pro-autocracy. "No, you can't have that" is an intolerable statement in an autocracy because it's an assertion of equal or greater status. This creates a second, independent set of incentives to remove a capacity for privacy. (Anyone NOT had an interaction with a bureaucracy that was nigh-purely a case of "you don't have the status to refuse to do whatever I tell you"?) It's a set of incentives which applies inside the machinery of the state, too, as that variously acquires more and more in the way of corporate norms.

19:

Here, have an implied sarcasm tag :/

Now trying to remember whether or not I actually got round to name-checking Stafford Beer (and specifically Project Cybersyn) as one of the influences on the Commonwealth in "Invisible Sun".

20:

Thank you!

(I currently have ~1 GB of SGML with ~20 years of organic development history to transmogrify into a relatively strict XML vocabulary. The social function emulator is not doing its best. No portion of my brain is really doing its best.)

21:

Money laundering relies on cash? Really? So, you couldn't be, say, a Russian billionaire, who puts money (wire transfer) into a shell company, which transfers money to another shell company, to buy condoes in a HUUUUGGEEE brand name condo development or golf course, being built by an American alleged billionaire?

22:

Once you vanish down the taxonomic rabbit-hole of VAT and customs duty things get weird, fast ...

Back around 82 or so I was going from the US to Canada to deal help our rep there convert a new release of the software to "Canadian". (Think dates, French, different laws, etc...) They said they had run out of 3 ring binders. Could I bring a couple of boxes. Sure, I said. I just checked them as luggage and flew up.

Spent over an hour in customs. I told the guy they cost us less than $3 each to buy. He said that seem low for Canada and kept trying to figure out if the metal in the ring clasp system was worth more than that. I suggested I pay duties on $5 each. (There were only 40 total.) At one point I might have told him he could keep them. I can't remember exactly. After about an hour of him thumbing through a foot or so of books he finally told me to just leave with them.

23:

For our friends over the Pond, if you weren't aware, the Cato Institute is a Libertarian/Randist think tank.

24:

Ah, but the real estate purchase is technically for cash. The cash need not have provenance, and where the real estate markets have this characteristic, they get corrupt. (and prices rise; Vancouver and Toronto both suffer from this.)

You couldn't, for example, plunk down a couple hundred million for wide-body aircraft the same way.

I mean, the bank corruption doesn't help, but that particular money laundering does still rely on cash, if not folding money.

25:

Your introductory passage about ebook piracy seems poorly argued. I agree that stamping out piracy would be really hard and would require extreme measures that are unlikely to be worth it, but I don't see why the EXACT measures you list are either necessary or sufficient.

I think I can imagine a bunch of DIFFERENT insane draconian systems that could theoretically do the job; for instance, one involves only allowing you to read your book inside of a highly secure Faraday cage.

Conversely, even if your database of all transactions were to exist, I can see how that might help in deciding whether some action that you observe is or isn't piracy, but how are you going to make sure all the piracy gets observed so that it can be tested? Either you've got to detect EVERY INSTANCE of someone reading a book so you can check whether they ever bought it (an exceedingly difficult problem in its own right), or you've got to somehow force receipt of the free pirated version to be a "transaction" that gets recorded in the database (which is basically the same as the original problem you were trying to solve).

Also, you have a comment about how if you only try to track media purchases instead of all transactions, people can cheat by pretending their media is turnips. But for purposes of the problem being discussed, the people selling media have no incentive to cheat in this way--they're the ones who want to stop the piracy!--so I don't see how this is a problem.

Of course, I realize you probably don't actually care about any of this, because that entire issue was probably just a way of motivating the topic of transactional security to a blog about books.

26:

This is from 2011. It has gotten worse.
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/nyregion/more-apartments-are-empty-yet-rented-or-owned-census-finds.html

Just how many of these empty apartments are laundered money?

And it getting worse. There was a big article and/or book about it recently.

27:

With allowances for rhetorical simplification, that's my understanding of the current measures being proposed for online media before the European Parliament, with the feature that the in-perpetuity purchase databases will be privately held and multiple.

So, certainly, there are other draconian possibilities to manage copyright, but this one is pretty close to being settled law.

(And yes, it was a hook. But not, as I understand it, an entirely metaphorical hook.)

28:

Charlie @ 17
Oh dear ... For more on "Jaffa Cakes" .... Are they Cakes
or Biscuits?

An absolute classic of the genre....

29:

Also not an expert, but I am also a programmer, and based on my understanding of blockchain, there was a REASON the problem was made hard in the first place, and if you make the problem easy then that reason would need to be dealt with in another way. It wasn't some sort of arbitrary stylistic choice.

1) You want the ledger to be honest.

2) To accomplish that, you ask a lot of people to watch the ledger and "vote" on what should happen (and hope that a majority of them are not colluding).

3) Since the protection mechanism works by "voting", you need the defenders to "outnumber" the attackers or you lose.

4) The "number" of attackers is limited mainly by economics; bigger attacks are more expensive.

5) If the value of the prize ever exceeds the cost of the attack, someone will mount that attack and loot the thing.

6) Therefore, the effort spent on defense must rise in proportion to the value of the thing you are defending.

If you decide to just arbitrarily lower the defense effort by 6 orders of magnitude, then the cost of an attack also drops by 6 orders of magnitude, and you're no longer secure. (At least, not for the original reason.)

Honestly, this whole plan strikes me as a really bad idea on first principles. I don't see any inherent reason that the defense would be more efficient than the attack...but if it's not, that implies the defense effort has to cost as much as the value of the thing you're protecting, which would make the entire defense economically irrational. (If anyone can explain what I'm missing, I'm all ears.)

30:

But you specifically said you wanted to keep this abstract rather than talking about a current EU political issue, which seems to invalidate that defense. You presented it as "this is what would be required" rather than "this is the insane but real proposal du jour".

31:

Defense does not apply because this is neither a conflict not an antagonistic environment.

You do not find the hook convincing; so noted.

32:

I think the "controlling entity" is whoever is writing the laws which, er, control the rules used for the transaction.

Currently, it's a consortium of the major credit/debit card brands - Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB, and AmEx... when it comes to security, ask yourself whether you trust them more than governments ;)


...the folks who can get the complete ledgers can use those to implement social operant conditioning.

...so you do your banking offshore. If in the UK, get an international account; etc, etc. The card issuers are supported in other countries, otherwise tourists couldn't pay for stuff; and I rather suspect that a Swiss-registered bank, running non-UK datacenters, will be less than helpful when it comes to handing over amassed ledger data to a foreign government (individual ledger data from a court order, maybe, but that's IMHO acceptable)

You might not be able to solve the issue for the more controlling states (e.g. anything that declares that it has a "Great Firewall", or that bans applications that it dislikes, or that has strict currency export controls) but at least you'll make it harder for aspirant tyrannies.

Anyway, I'd be more worried about the "Daily Mail" effect than the "we know which party you support" effect. Hate-and-Fear bigotry-driven media willing to tell lies, which already exist, are more immediately worrying to me than the ability of HM Govt to try and identify my voting habits.

33:

OK, poor word choice on my part.

34:

Well, I trust them, in the sense that I am entirely confident that I can predict their preferences and decisions.

I think we're headed into a historical discontinuity and that while the "Daily Mail" effect is entirely undesirable, I don't know if it's going to stay important. I expect that the kind of future we get is going to be strongly constrained by the present, and the institutions of the present are nearly all those of an unaccountable corporate autocracy.

35:

Not a techie, but these are the ideas that caught my eye. (Feel free to correct me if I misunderstood.)

A) In the present day, in many jurisdictions, there is a requirement that you have some up-front knowledge about the parties participating in any transaction before/in order for a transaction to occur, e.g., age/criminal record for purchase of alcohol, tobacco, guns, chemicals, etc. The type of info is culturally determined and can change at any time, therefore the type and amount of a priori info that is easily adjusted for has to be written into the system. Then you can have laws that say, if you're a citizen of such-and-such you're outright never allowed to do/buy 'X' which means that you could have international disputes based on human rights, etc. An interesting exercise in/example of how a transactional mechanism can bugger up the type and scope of taxation regs any sovereign entity might be able to implement, so a good idea to have a wide range of disciplines look into this and identify potential problems. (What happens when an individual uses the exact same products/services as both an individual and as one or more business entities? After all, free-lance is a growing segment, and expenses impact tax rates.)

B) Because global trade is a growing phenomenon, this means a universal transaction system. Who would you trust to run it: WB, CM, USFRB, IBM, BigRiver, Google?

C) Once you have foreign gov'ts integrated into and using the same system as your/their ordinary consumer, the likelihood of an attack increases and the number of suspects (doors into the system) is way bigger.


Re: Ghost land/property owners:

Would want to know whether they're allowed to vote in local elections. Some jurisdictions allow any/all property owners a vote, other jurisdictions insist on a minimum of legal immigrant status. Land swaps could become a way of getting local (zoning) bylaws enacted. Probably cheaper and less likely to be discovered than bribing a pol.


Re: Jaffa cakes (also Pim's)

If the makers of these products knew in advance what legal hoops they'd have to jump through, they'd probably not have bothered. Although I can also see idiotic sales tax/customs regs actually accelerate product innovation if it only required a quick/easy swap of one or two materials.

36:

Oh, right, the original point, ebook piracy... and how would you classify what B&N did to me? I bought about four books from them, then found out that I COULD NOT BACK THEM UP off my Nook.

Damn it, I BOUGHT a copy, I did not rent a copy. If the Nook falls into water, do I still have them?

And we've seen for decades that DRM only pisses people off.

37:

From the article:
"Ideally, the destination is handled the same way as the payment target; the merchant gets it as crypto gabble they can authenticate as the correct sort of crypto-gabble, but not outright read. They use their shipping service to get a quote back to know how much to charge you for shipping, and bundle that with the quote they sent you for the goods."

The vendor wouldn't accept such a system. At the very least, they need to know they aren't being gouged by the transport company, pricing for a further address than the actual. They need to also assess address distribution (vs cost) to see if it's worth internalising transport for high-volume delivery areas.

Which brings up a broader point, the only people who introduce transaction systems are vendors and financiers. Customers don't get a say, expect so far as they have a choice between systems.

--

Re: Improved e-transactions.

If this were an actual priority for anyone with a say in the game, then 20 years after paypal we wouldn't still be giving our actual credit-card numbers directly to online vendors.

38:

Defense does not apply because this is neither a conflict not an antagonistic environment.

So defence isn't needed because we accept from the start that the system is controlled by the people who would our adversaries if we wanted to stop piracy. I'm not sure why you think that's a good idea.

39:

Whitroth, Graydon doesn't care - his system is designed to stop you "backing up" those books, not to allow you to assert ownership or use rights. From his point of view the important part is that you paid for them, after than the transaction is complete and there is no more to be said.

The whole scenario misses out so much of modern commerce that it's clearly a case of "anything I don't understand is easy". Even I, who has only written code to deal with two countries and a small range of transaction types, has had to deal with many more details than Graydon's system permits. Sales taxes, for example, often work both ways and some are additive and some aren't - in anglonesia if a business buys goods that have had GST paid on them that's a GST credit that partially offsets the GST they remit when sell said goods. The same is not true for most other taxes.

Posters above have pointed out details that I haven't had to deal with.

Note that a common sixth party in retail transactions is Amazon or equivalent, often with a seventh party beiung the warehouse that ships the goods (and the 8th, 9th, 10th etc being the various shipping companies, and the 27th being the labour hire company that provided the workers who move the goods from the dock to the warehouse, the 28th providing those who move the goods from the container so delivered onto the warehouse shelves... and so on. All of whom naturally have legal agreements drawn up by the ... shit, what number am I up to? ... the lawyers for the various parties)

40:

So just running with the original "I buy an ebook" thought experiment. What happens if that ebook is copied/pirated by an employee of the contractor who stores copies of interesting internet traffic on behalf of the Australian government(*).

That copy is presumably watermarked as being mine, so when Graydon sees it on the internet he's going to blame me. Any burble about the (universal, uncrackable) DRM being outside my control isn't going to wash, it is unquestionably "my" copy of the book that's been cracked and shared.

How does Graydon prosecute me? How does he collect any fees or fines that might apply if he succeeds? How do I defend myself against claims that I have pirated the book?

One fun twist is that in this case Graydon can't easily travel to Australia to harass me because if he does he'll likely be picked up and prosecuted for violating Australia's consumer protection laws. I would be doing my best to make sure that happened in this scenario.

* there's currently a proposal to make this worse by requiring that anybody involved with "the internet" provide all necessary assistance in decrypting traffic, presumably including cracking DRM (otherwise all I need do is DRM-protect my terrorist exploding kiddie porn recipes).

41:

FWIW I've recently had the experience of ordering a small electronic device on eBay and getting a large mechanical device instead (worth much more than the thing I paid for). The seller was very apologetic, paid for return shipping, and shipped me a replacement. Which was also a large mechanical device.

The second time I noted that the return address was close to work, so I rode there to return the second incorrect device. Location was a store-and-forward warehouse staffed by very busy people who didn't speak English. After some gesticulation a random courier driver stepped in and translated a bit, establishing that the piecework-paid warehouse staff did not care, they were paid for "take one item from location 2398476, wrap and label with address {moz's address}" and they had done that. Twice. Returns work the same way except they don't get paid very much at all (comparatively... I doubt any were making minimum wage as it was).

So I tipped the guy I had distracted $2, gave him my parcel with return note on it, and left. Seller gave me a refund and a credit for the hand delivery.

How does that sequence fit into Graydon's semi-anonymous "five party" system? Who, if anyone, should suffer the online reputation management system damage that I want to apply (vigorously, and with prejudice)? Who, if anyone, should the Australian consumer protection people go after if I was still not satisfied with the outcome? The seller is in China, eBay is in a tax haven, the people actually in Australia are contractors on "skilled temporary worker" or "student" visas... who's on the hook?

42:

You're quoting a statement made about the context of the discussion, not the thought experiment.

So far as the local customs go, defense really doesn't apply because this is, if not collegial, a friendly discussion. It's not a formal debate, a thesis defense, or anything else adversarial.

43:

I thought it would be useful to summarise Graydon's proposal so that I know what I'm arguing against. I'd appreciate Grayon's approving or correcting my summary.

This is cut and pasted from the post with verbiage shortened. Feel free to read "bill of goods and delivery guarantee" rather than "contract" and so on.


* buyer can prove how much was spent
* buyer can prove the contract
* buyer can prove payment to seller and controller(s)

* seller can prove amount received and for which contract.
* seller can prove activities to controller(s)

* controller(s) and auditors need to know contract plus buyer and seller


You want to be able to do this without access to the seller's databases and without leaving information about yourself with the seller. Everyone wants to prove that "this is a real transaction identifier" without knowing anything about the transaction

44:

It's not a formal debate, a thesis defense, or anything else adversarial.

Now I'm confused. You've made a post with a proposal, you want us to discuss it, but your answer to critique is "I don't want criticism"? What do you want?

45:

The full scope of such a thing is a document that, printed and bound, would kill you if it fell on you. Maybe not even "fell on you out of a tree". I know that! I could argue that what I wrote was already way too long for the venue, too.

I also don't expect that you can stop ebook piracy at an acceptable cost; I would have thought that the original post made that clear, and that I think trying is a bad idea. The intended point is to discuss how you keep from having a single universal ledger powerful actors can use for meta- sorts of purposes the way China is using purchasing history to feed a social operate conditioning system.

You returns problem is way out of the scope of that "can we have a transaction system without there being a single global ledger"; there, you want to know how you get a large public enterprise to care more about accuracy than profit. That's got solutions, but would involve special cases of the "profit as a goal instead of a measure" general solutions.

46:

I've made a post with a thought experiment. That's on the scale of "what"; "it would be good to use cryptographic signing", sort of level, not a discussion of "how" when "$ALGORITHM is the best choice in this application" gets backed up with a lot of work and detail. Antistone got that specific response because they were responding as though it was an adversarial context.

Analogy is risky, but: There is absolutely no fundamental requirement to use interest when running a modern banking system. You can get an equivalent set of features by separately denominating "money" and "debt" and having varying exchange rates between the two currencies. (That is, what is now thought of as your credit rating would be reflected in an exchange rate between "money" and "debt" which would be specific to you (for "in principle" values of specific).) Pointing this out, or pointing out that such an approach solves several problems that big currency unions have with defining, identifying, and setting optimal interest rates, is not the same thing as saying "let's discuss how a bank would work under this system at the level of its actual operating regulations, since those represent the effort of many people for several years".

Similarly, "I am pretty sure you could have a practical global credit system set up to make it impractical to keep a single global ledger (because the existence of that global ledger starts to look like a major systemic risk here in Late Capitalism) and here is what something like that would need to do" is not a how statement. It is a what statement.

So in 43, the essential point is "you can buy stuff this way" and "nobody ever has enough pieces to reconstruct the entire transaction" is the design goal, with a caveat that some sort of court system would likely need to be able to reconstruct specific, disputed transactions in a way that didn't lend itself to automation (rendering the whole thing pointless as the global ledger gets created by that mechanism) should the local version of such a court system get co-opted somewhere.

And this is meant at the level of technical practicality, not political! Political is an entirely different question.

47:

Charlie Stross @ 19:

Here, have an implied sarcasm tag :/

Is that what we're supposed to use to denote sarcasm? I had noticed the "<code>" "</code>" tags didn't work here.

48:

the essential point is "you can buy stuff this way" and "nobody ever has enough pieces to reconstruct the entire transaction" is the design goal ... meant at the level of technical practicality, not political!

To me that says "I'm solving political problems using technology" and I think we all know how that turns out. Luckily no-one has managed it, because the only effective solutions go "step one: eliminate humans".

I think you're on the way to an "you *can* buy things this way" system, but it's as practical as me offering to manage a friend's house deposit savings on the basis that "you gift me money now, I might gift you money later if you ask for it" (because that minimises the chances of me going to jail for impersonating a bank/financial advisor/whatever. The problem is that if I lose most of their money what do they do? Sue me? Ooops).

The core political problem that you've identified is real, but it's been a dream/goal for commerce system designers for a very long time. Tracking everything, everywhere, all the time makes it much easier to run your business/government and makes crime harder. Especially when crime describes "not paying tax on everything, absolutely everything, you do" (for example, I grow veges at home and my housemate eats some of them in exhange for extra housework... that's an in-kind payment for which I'm supposed to pay tax. No, really).

I read an article the other day talking about how the combination of ever-better, ever-more-detailed profiles of consumers might render democracy irrelevent, since the same systems that persuade us to buy stuff can also persuade us to vote for stuff (in the event that simply predicting the vote doesn't render voting unnecessary). In that sense the US is ahead of the rest of the world when they get corporations to run elections and declare results. Or "provide voting machines and count the votes" if you prefer.

49:

A bit of a side note: I have an elderly BlackBerry tablet, brand Playbook. On it I have a Kobo ebook reader account with a dozen or so technical books of hefty price tags. The purchases were from Kobo, it says in the T & C but the payment was handled through BlackBerry World app store.

Guess what? Kobo can't find proof I own those books, to transfer them I need a migration token from BlackBerry World, and to a first approximation, BlackBerry World is out of business.

The device works, the books work, but they are trapped in a dead end platform. Anonymity of a sort because the connector is non-responsive.

50:

I read an article the other day talking about how the combination of ever-better, ever-more-detailed profiles of consumers might render democracy irrelevent,

There's a lot of present concern about Facebook's highly-specific, high-conversion rate advertising model in this context.

To me that says "I'm solving political problems using technology"

Well, we're heading into a historical discontinuity. What comes out is (sharply!) constrained by what's already there. (In the sense that your late Antiquity landowner turns into a feudal magnate by ceasing to do what the Emperor says; the social institutions were otherwise (mostly) already in place.) I think it'd be preferable to have a model other than flesh-robot autocracy operating on this side of the discontinuity.

51:

(timeout ate my comment.. short version follows)

Mixed trading/gifting economies tend to be the fallback used after collapses, and they're a well proven technology across and between many species.

I think we'll see the current "starve and freeze them out" model extended using new technology until it stops working. Arguably democracy is an early example of that technology. Note that I mean "to death", too many revolutions have happened when the rulers have stopped at "until they stop causing trouble". Our current rulers know that.

52:

Henry, I have similar accounts with a variety of providers and it's one reason why I demand access to unprotected content. I've spent a great deal of money licensing access to managed content for unknown periods and I'm over it.

I also have no problem "buying" stuff then obtaining the pirated version rather than de-protecting it myself (or in other cases, "buying" the garbage version then pirating the proper one - especially when it's mp3 when the FLAC is available).

53:
We want a system where you don't need to identify yourself to pay for something. (That gets us that global transaction database and all the nasty problems it creates.)

I disagree. Most sales are repeat sales, and that is both an outcome of the way human minds work, and necessary to the operation of markets as presently constructed. When you're dealing with humans, nothing is purely rational; nor should it be. We need to foster the building of trust.

Perhaps we want a system where it is illegal (for "imprison all the officers for a very long time" values of illegal) to share the name(s) of the counterparty(ies) to your transaction (or near-transaction) with anyone. (With, no doubt, exceptions to be evolved by case law.)

54:

moz @ 43
To which one MUST add ...
buyer / seller / controller must be able to authenticate that all relevant sales/transaction/customs taxes & duties have been paid or reclaimed
Um, err ....

GregvP
"Case Law" - which mostly only operates in "Anglo" countries.
It's one of the real, actual problems we do have with the EU, as opposed to all the fake ones that everybody's shouting about.

55:

The intended point is to discuss how you keep from having a single universal ledger powerful actors can use for meta- sorts of purposes

You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) how effectively supposedly-anonymised data can be de-anonymised. I don't know the technical specifics of the objections raised but a few years ago the Great Puppy Affair at the Hugos led to plans for new nominating and voting rules. A proposal to test these rules against older historical Hugo voting records was knocked back when Greater Minds Than Mine explained that filing off the personal details of the voting wouldn't stop a determined data-miner from figuring out which works and people a specific voter had voted for in previous years and who that voter was, in some or many cases.

There's another case in the UK where the NHS which has a lot of medical records can't make them available to researchers to do historical and deep analyses of disease progression and treatments because of confidentiality requirements. Anonymising the data isn't enough to ensure the privacy rules are met. The tools researchers would use on the data sets are very powerful and the researchers are very good at extracting valid inferences from such data.

With enough data everything is transparent, I have heard it said. I think it is qualified some times with "With enough access to enough data". This single universal ledger concept implies a lot of data with a lot of people having access to it.

56:

Well, I know we've had a previous case on this very blog where I was "looked at funny" for saying that I was happy to let my local supermarket keep a record of "what I buy there", in exchange for 5% cashback on my shop for me, occasional discount vouchers on "stuff I buy anyway"and another 1% to local charities (rates varied to reflect current situation).

57:

a) Good point, and builds nicely on my #4; Again the USA actually varies laws on these items at sub-National level, so we now require "age and location" of the purchaser verified to produce a legal and correctly taxed transaction.

Jaffa Cakes - These pre-date the UK's present VAT, by some margin.

"Pim's" - No idea what this is. There is a "Pimm's", normally considered a fruit liqueur. The liqueur also predates VAT (by about 150 years).

I think you've just re-discovered the arbitrary nature of VAT!

58:

I was happy to let my local supermarket keep a record of "what I buy there", in exchange for 5% cashback on my shop for me, occasional discount vouchers on...

I might be, but sadly the only options here are of the form "allow anyone and everyone to monetise everything they can find out from your purchase" in exchange for occasional small discounts on items they select. I decided that the sheer time required to monitor the situation made the return on effort undetectably small. But since I almost invariably pay cash I use (a copy of) someone else's loyalty card at some supermarkets - it has a barcode rather than a chip, so a copy of the code is sufficient.

59:

Also, in amusing news for those following the Australian privacy/identity theft news, the Australian Mint has leaked the complete identity theft kits for 3000+ of their customers. All the details needed to sell their houses, divorce their partners, adopt their kids... "we regret any inconvenience and reassure you that our system is secure" (one would almost think they had hired Clarke and Dawe to do PR - youtube again).

It makes my decision to try to opt-out of the Australian Government e-health record seem quite reasonable...

60:

I don't like commercial anonymity.

I'd like a decent cop, with a decent warrant, to be able to have a decent go at finding out who bought that ammo. Nor does it seem terrible to have them checking whether someone we will call "The Suspect" purchased a book on bomb-making, given that they found a home-made bomb in his flat and he claims his flatmate (who is dead, alas, from a car-bomb) made it.

And I'd sure as hell like a tax system that works. Because I like social welfare, and schools, and govt funded hospitals. I work with investment bankers: offering them complete anonymity in their private transactions will *not* make your world a better place.

I'd also like that sort of checking to be, well, a bit tricky. Tricky enough that bored cops don't get to look up what erotica the waitress who just sold them their donuts is reading.


Any system can be abused. But while complete transparency in transactions is a flaw, complete, guaranteed anonymity is a disaster. There are far worse things than lack of commercial privacy.

61:

Moz et al, it's worth bearing in mind that since approximately the 1930s trade publishing has been all about supply chain management contracts. (Everything else can be outsourced, including editing, proofreading, typesetting, marketing, printing, distribution ... but not the flow of money, the accounting processes governed by the supplier and customer contracts, and therefore the contracts.)

Who actually does the labour (or indeed whether it's done by skilled, experienced publishing folks or by a gang of capuchin monkeys) is less important than the capital flows.

Sound familiar? It's modern business in miniature.

62:

Breaking News: UK government's Treasury Committee says it's time to regulate cryptocurrencies. I'm not sure who's going to enjoy the process less: the cryptocurrency hucksters and enthusiasts (especially the neo-Nazis who bought into BitCoin because they believe the myth that central banking is Jew-controlled and therefore any decentralized banking system must be Aryan and Pure), or the innumerate and technologically illiterate parliamentarians ("why don't we pass a law to mandate secure encryption for all banking transactions, but make all encryption transparent to duly designated government authorities?").

63:

It depends.

The problem with anonymity is that there are good, valid, urgent reasons for providing it—and equally good, valid reasons for forbidding it!

Legitimate reasons for desiring anonymity: you have a stalker who wants to harm you, or you're a battered spouse trying to escape an abuser, or you want to express a legal but unpopular opinion in public, or you're Jewish (or other target minority) in a country facing an upswing in neo-Nazis, or you want to vote your conscience without fear of losing your job, or, or, or ... (it's an infinitely extensible laundry list)

Legitimate reasons for wanting to ban anonymity: DO NOT READ THE DAILY MAIL COMMENTS FORUM. Or maybe make it easier to sweep up swatters or terrorists. And so on. (It's an infinitely extensible laundry list.)

I do not believe this problem can be solved as long as we stick to a model that assumes everybody has a single immutable identity (I don't: do you?) and can only be held to account for their actions if they're associated with some specified identity model.

64:

That requirement can be met. You set up a central payment processor owned by the government, that central processor issues one time pads to everybody, all payments go through it. Total transparency to the government, utterly unbreakable crypto for everyone else. Physical security achieved by the expedient of burying it under the largest army base you have.

Of course, this does involve uhm, cutting private banking out of the payment buisness all together...

65:

One wonders if this proposal was resourced, or a result of small sample (Their golf/drinking partners.). I think this applies as well to corporate entities, therefore when this gets enough responses to go off-topic, may be vastly entertaining.

66:

Charlie @ 62
I THINK the noe-Nazis are going to be very unhappy bunnies, poor little sweet things ...
But, very big but, the utterly technologically-illiterate HoC ( As opposed to the Lords, some of whom do know which way is "UP" in this scenario ) are almost certainly going to make a dogs'-breakfast of it.
Tiuhg not as badly as the Eu over the "link-sharing/hyperlinking anti-law they are proposing, which will break the net in Europe if they enactit, the stupid turds.

TJ @ 64
So, this utterly secure system is owned by "THe government", consisting of people, some of whom, by simple statistical defintion will be corrupt & who can & will sell the info on to ...
Oh dear ... try again.

Charlie is correct there is a separate infinte (to all intents & purposes) list of reasons for both anononimity & for openness, which is just a slight technical difficulty, no?

67:

Charlie is correct there is a separate infinte (to all intents & purposes) list of reasons for both anononimity & for openness, which is just a slight technical difficulty, no?

Generally during a systems design process when you see this kind of isn't-resolvable issue, you've got a problem of scale. You're either looking at the problem too narrowly, or too broadly.

My suspicion is that the issue with anonymity is that you have the expectation of single system actors because the anonymized actor is singular. (There's also the pesky habit of viewing reads as safe and writes as dangerous.) That's probably not how you want to do it with any of the administrative functions, which can't ever be anonymous. (Five-key systems with named actors -- you have to be in the right place, at the right thing, and there have to be three of you, and which three of you is randomly selected, and it bolts your specific work identity resolvable to you as an individual to the read event.

68:

Re: More amusement, less entertainment ...

As many folks here are aware, Ticketmaster has a near-monopoly on major entertainment event ticket sales in Canada and the UK. So, they should be happy with all the money they rake in as a monopoly, right? Nope - seems they've branched out and now offer support (special apps) to scalpers so that they can take profits on resale/scalping.

The below is a Canadian story - maybe the Brits will join in on any investigation into this?

https://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2018/09/19/we-went-undercover-as-ticket-scalpers-and-ticketmaster-offered-to-help-us-do-business.html

So, one of the things your universal monetary exchange tracking system (UMETS) also has to do is limit the number of touches by any party on a service/product to ensure no double-dipping.

69:

Well, I trust them...

One point to note is that as it stands, your "controlling entity" (aka payment gateway) already has a clear separation of responsibility.

When processing a cardholder-present transaction, the gateway only sees the card number, the merchant name, location, the date/time, and the amount of transaction. So, it doesn't know the cardholder name (it deals entirely with the PAN), and it doesn't know what they bought (because they aren't told what's on the receipt). It just knows which issuing bank to ask for the money, and which acquiring bank to give it to.

Note that tokenisation (i.e. handing over a single-use token in place of an card number) is already here; take a look at this PCI tokenization document (link to PDF) or put the terms "PCI tokenization vendors" into your favourite search engine...

70:

.. You cannot bribe the people who control the payment system, because if they were corruptible and able to defeat your internal audit mechanisms, they would already have all the money they could spend without getting busted - You are basically suggesting the equivalent of bribing people who work at the printing press that turns out euro notes to steal from the supply for you. If they were willing and able, you add no value to their criminality.

71:

It took me some time to process Graydon's proposition, and then quite some more time to view the reaction of people in general. I'm still confused, most likely because there are several points in the text that are incoherent with each other.

Graydon's key points:
1. Piracy and digital distribution system.
2. A full proper new transaction system to solve the problem, I guess.
3. But then you have to dig deeper, for some reason, down to very basics of it.
4. And then there's a concern about privacy/publicity.

All of these normally are separate topics, some of them more, some of them less problematic. So I'm going to start with the end and move towards initial point.

Concerns about digital privacy are on the rise these days, and even with all government involvement, it will become more problematic over time to do something about it. It is inevitable that commercial sector will continue to accelerate towards total control of information about customers and competitors (the Big Data and stuff), and this is going to continue until governments won't start arm themselves with the same tools. In fact, it is already happening, see Chinese(and some other) social score systems. It is so much broader than just economy thing that it would be hopeless in this blog format to encompass aspects of it, and I wouldn't even try. You may think you are secure when you come to bank with your privileged anonymous credit card, but in the time you are standing in front of ATM, it is (probably) going to measure your weight, height, take a snapshot of your face and probe your phone's connection protocols.

Once upon a time my MS mail account said to me for no reason: "Your account is acting suspiciously, please provide us with your mobile phone number to do a security check", and it blocked me from accessing that mail until I agree. And I never used it ever again.

Building digital transaction system based on different principles (from what we already have) is probably monumental labor as well. You have to understand that existing system has been in development since at least middle of last century, and onwards and one of it's goals is to eventually replace physical money with virtual currency. I've heard some articles that many old systems we still use are REALLY insecure and you REALLY want to introduce more sturdy encryption to them, but this also provides some degree of robustness to them. Anybody involved can verify his transaction fair and simple, without paying attentions to digital certificate procedures and other conventions-schmoventions. Especially customers themselves. I assume it is pretty common knowledge to know at least some basics of the system which did not change for the last couple of centuries.

The principle and main quality of such transfer system is that it allows you to track the amount of money in the economy, to make sure that no money is lost or appear of nowhere for no reason, and this requires a hefty back log of activity, especially if you want to roll back the changes and correct a mistake. This is also a basic functionality, which does not involve all additional functions like personal ID, accounting, taxes, etc, etc. Crypto-currencies are providing exactly that basic framework and everything above that is purely human made once again and prone to human errors as usual. Well, Bitcoin is just more secure to verify the history of transactions in less controlled environment, but it is not going to solve most common existing problems with privacy or piracy. Inflation rates or security issues may be the other aspect of it, but this topic not there yet to discuss that.

And finally, about piracy. I have always had the feeling that there's some sort of logic bomb existing right in the basis of digital rights management, that is, how can you make as many copies of a book as you want without actually paying anything for printing. Moreover, when you buy a digitally protected book, you do not own the book itself, only the right to read it or get rid of it (not even that much, at times, especialy when someTunes deletes your digital copy and pushes you another one as a replacement). Why, it shouldn't surprise anyone who is even remotely aware of digital content, and most people prefer no to think of it too hard.
https://slate.com/technology/2018/09/apple-remove-purchases-itunes-digital-ownership.html

Now that we come to the schwerpunkt of this problem. You can distribute a digital copy of a book via singular transaction, even if it is single-direction one, but you will need to make sure that the transition of associated rights will also be present. And the rights are going to be here all the time, no matter where you are and what system you are using. And you will be prevented from transferring the book anywhere with same sort of transaction, which will be ensured with associated programmable watchdog, which is a property of third party.

I think that is clear enough with existing laws of distribution, and this model for now is prevalent. If you want something different, you are going to get rid of it and invent the entire new ideology, or pick it from a number of less popular ones. I would rather give up on this dream of digital paradise entirely. I guess, the only thing that can prevent us from being deceived by a human being with nefarious motifs is the other person with noble intent.

72:

Yep. I believe I mentioned B&N's Nook, that I own....

73:

"Our current rulers"?

I beg to disagree. The Extreme Brexiteers, adn the US' GOP, and esp. the Malignant Carcinoma, missed that memo. (Note the attempts, here, to repeal the ACA ("Obamacare"), and certainly to allow insurance co's to deny people coverage based on "pre-existing conditions".

74:

Trust... Yes.

Speaking professional, here at work, where, as a US federal contractor, I am constrained from "recommending or selling" a specific product... but as I know who the ordering system works, and have "personal connections", I'm the one who is told "we want a box like this, see what you can find", and I have, literally, about a handful of vendors that I actively *want* to deal with, for reasons like "they know what their job is, and how to do it correctly, and where their money comes from, and how to keep it coming, like GOOD SERVICE", and I want to get quotes from them.

I *rarely* recommend to non-work folks, except for certain things. An example, for USans, is where I go for printer toner/ink - the company I go to, I've had *exactly* the same fast and good service (and excellent prices) when I ordered a compatible toner for my old lastjet at home as I had when I ordered, literally, two pallets of toner for work.

Amazon - I want to stay with one vendor, if I like them, rather than chance whoever's selling what I want.

So, yes, repeat.

75:

Yup.

Perfect example of both in one case: the professor who's just accused the Shtigibbon's Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, who *really* needed to keep privacy, but had to break it, and the privacy of the PoS that have given her death threats, to the point that she and her family have had to get out of their home.

76:

Honestly, I am not sure anonymity is politically useful, as a defense. It is like the second amendment as a defense against tyranny - if it gets to that point, you are screwed regardless, and we need defenses of civilization that kick in way earlier.

Especially since the barn has already been quite thoroughly burned down - The government and corporates already have huge databases on us all. GDPR style rules that specify what uses they may or may not put those to seem more likely to be fruitful, simply because they do not require the vanishing of datasets already gathered.

77:

I might be, but sadly the only options here are of the form "allow anyone and everyone to monetise everything they can find out from your purchase" in exchange for occasional small discounts on items they select. I decided that the sheer time required to monitor the situation made the return on effort undetectably small.

Here in the US you can reduce your grocery bill by 1/3 to 1/2 with judicious use of the weekly discounts for those with a club number. (Your phone number works just fine thank you.) So we're kind of stuck.

Now most people go in and buy what they planned to buy anyway and treat the discounts as a bonus. I'm the stores' worst shopper. I only buy what is on discount. Many times I'll leave the store with 10 or more things and the only ones NOT on a "member" discount are things from the deli counter.

But I think I'm the exception.

78:

Two somewhat related data points.

My daughter works in the audit group of a public accounting firm. A 2nd tier national level one in the US. Based on what she tells me (and I would have guessed this to be true and I'm sure some of you will agree) that most controls are looked at as boxes to get checked during audits. Not things that actually secure something.

And on another note. newegg.com got hacked for the last month. Someone managed to embed a tracker in their web site that collected billing information at check out. Ugh.

79:

Lead pipe decrypt ought to work well enough.

80:

The government and corporates already have huge databases on us all.

Probably not. Although it does make for nice film/TV tropes.

Corporates have huge databases; however, Governments don't necessarily. Look at the (righteous) kerfuffle that occurred in the UK when it was suggested that the various departments of Government might, you know, share data across their systems.

For instance, the Ministry of Defence connecting up their pay system to the Inland Revenue systems, so that Reservists might get the correct tax relief if they were unemployed (or correctly taxed if they went over the higher-rate tax boundary). Or have the Passport Office talk to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for checks on identity (or vice versa).

Back in the 90s, our local Firearm Licensing officers did a briefing to clubs, on the mechanisms involved in granting a Firearms Certificate. The reason that it took several weeks, was because each application had to travel across multiple departments (e.g. PNC, Scottish PNC, CID, Special Branch, local criminal intelligence, Drugs Squad) - even the Police didn't have coherently accessible databases. Twenty years on from the Cullen Report, we're still waiting for a single national register of firearms.

The example I've used before is Northern Ireland, where the Government did attempt to keep a huge database on the population of two million or so, because several hundred of them had this rather anti-democratic belief that killing people by bomb and bullet would achieve their political wishes.

Maintaining and feeding that database took a massive effort on the part of intelligence-gathering agencies; hundreds of people were involved within the bounds of a single constabulary, who had a blank cheque for financial support. That's 8,500 full time police officers, another 5,000 reserve police officers, backed up by 12,000 regular soldiers and 6,000 reservists. 30,000 in the security forces, for two million people; all to hunt down a few hundred PIRA, INLA, UVF, UFF players and their support networks. As soon as the cease-fire was established, those 30k of Security Forces were replaced by that database rusted. Its data became outdated, because it wasn't being fed or curated (presumably, its successor is far smaller, in order to remain affordable).

Ask yourself exactly how that would scale up to a UK population of 60 million or so (it doesn't). Then take a look at the total number of staff for the Security Service ("MI5", ~4,000), GCHQ (~6,000 staff), and the National Crime Agency (~4,000 staff).

Final step in the credibility stakes. You have limited resources, and are attempting to tackle organised crime, dangerous extremists, and foreign intelligence agencies. Do you: a) attempt to build and maintain a "huge database on everyone", or b) attempt to focus on the players, and ignore anything that doesn't get flagged as "interesting by association"?

I think you'll find that Governments and intelligence agencies tend to have far fewer files on people than do supermarkets and loyalty cards...

81:

technologically illiterate parliamentarians ("why don't we pass a law to mandate secure encryption for all banking transactions, but make all encryption transparent to duly designated government authorities?").

Why not? The same thing is going swimmingly in Australia.

The bill was controversial, then the prime minister changed, and now you probably have a better idea of what's going on here than I do. Or the prime minister does (that's Scott Morrison at time of writing). Even the Murdoch pets are against it, but then they were against some of the other intrusive bills which passed.

82:

I've come late to the discussion.

This is why I buy paper.

You Don’t Own the Music, Movies or Ebooks You ‘Buy’ on Amazon or iTunes
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/you-dont-own-the-music-movies-or-ebooks-you-buy-on-amazon-or-itunes/

In one of the few ebooks I've bought this is the best way to start your copyright statement.

"This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved."

Here is the copyright statement in full.

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Smith, Dean Wesley. Kill Game: A Cold Poker Gang Mystery (p. 172). WMG Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

(Yes, it is ironic that I would copy and paste the statement. For education purposes only.)

A few years ago there was an article about your Kindle library dying with you.

A father and daughter were sharing books, to read together. The father died, and the daughter no longer had access to the books, because his account was closed and not transferable.

The way ebooks work:

Think of ebooks the way most people read books. Most people buy used, read the book, then trade it in at a book exchange or sell it back to the penny sites they bought it from. There is a constant used book market where the books flow in and out of the system

A number of authors got the rights back on their original books from their Trad publisher. They produced a beautiful trade paper copy and expected them to sell and thus make money. They do not.

- They are competing against the penny sites, with most people choosing to only own the books for the time it takes to read them, then sell them back.

BTW, These authors have a vast number of readers, but those readers are cycling through the used copies in the system. The authors are successful in reaching a large audience that does not pay the authors for those books.

There is another source of books: Free used paper

My sister goes to the gym and there are bags full of novels. You are free to take as few or as many books as you want. Most read them, then bring them back, often adding to the bags with books that they bought. This is a huge system.

Think of Stephen King:

He has about 30 million "Constant Readers". That is based on the sales of his books new. The actual number of readers is larger because most people buy used and cycle them back into the system.

If King made all of his books available in trade paper, Indy published, he would sell very few because even King cannot compete against the penny sites.

As has been mentioned up thread, the ebooks in your device only work as long as the company is still in business. They do not care if you lose all of your ebooks if they go out of business. I know that goes against the demographic represented by the posters on this thread, but you guys are a tiny subset of readers and your wishes do not count when it comes to the business of ebooks. If you are someone who is trying to Indy publish, you need to think like a Publisher.

Trigger Warning to published authors with agents: Sorry about this part

Don't worry about piracy

An Agent Nightmare Revealed
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/an-agent-nightmare-revealed/

For years now bestselling authors have been complaining about "piracy" because their money has gone down of late. It is more likely that their agency has been embezzling them rather than "piracy".

84:

Martin @ 80
Which is why the DDR was so ready to give in. The state was collapsing under the weight of its own (STASI) intel system & maintaining it ... There were other reasons of course, but it was a major contributory factor.

85:

I do not believe this problem can be solved as long as we stick to a model that assumes everybody has a single immutable identity (I don't: do you?)

'Icehawk' meets the standards I like. Anonymous enough that a casual google won't find me. Well known enough that when my friends read these comments they know who I am. Any decent investigator could find me in a matter of hours.

I also have an Amazon Kindle Identity. I set it up when Kindles first came out to be shared by my family - Amazon thinks we're one person, we all get to read each other's books. God knows what happens when the kids leave home.

Flipside of the Graydon's issue - many (most?) books aren't owned by individual people, they're owned by households. And quite what that means really is unclear in many situations. "Ownership" isn't a simple thing, and never was.

86:

I see it as a side effect of dehumanization, if your victims can be described as not quite human, was it so serious an offense? And it offers a lot of validation to the handful of extractors parasitizing the world. If only they embraced the idea of healthy hosts.

87:

Regarding anonymity, someone upthread referenced the notion of not making complex things simple. Anonymity seems inherently complex.

Regarding Bitcoin, it does (and did) solve the problem of a broke university group paying a programmer in very foreign parts to write a webscraper for publically available cancer data with minimal hassle. (Honestly, wire fees would have significantly exceeded the payment...) There are real, albeit niche, use cases. Sadly, the libertarian pyramid scheme is also very much in evidence.

If you assume a distributed database with an unknown (but relatively small) fraction of bad actors, how do you prevent malicious changes? I assume block chain is one possibility, but it is computationally inefficient. Also, nowadays, how do you avoid people spinning up a bunch of instances on the cloud?

88:

Anonymity seems inherently complex.

Au contraire: identity is inherently complex.

We can usually assume a human identity has an origin point in time and space—but it may be inaccessible: parents were off-grid survivalists/religious apocalypse cult members and didn't apply for a birth certificate; person was born in a country wracked by civil war, or even a country that no longer legally exists and has no uncontested successor state. (See the plight of Syrian refugees being stripped of citizenship by the Assad regime because they're not currently residents there. Or groups stripped of their citizenship by a malign government.)

We can usually assume that identity is continuous until death, but sometimes death is reversible because mistakes happen (that Romanian guy who was declared dead when in fact he was still alive but in Turkey and then lost a court battle to get his identity reinstated).

We can't assume any biometric tags except the full genome persist across a lifetime (people get their faces burned off, people lose eyes, people lose fingers/fingerprints) and even a full genome may be variable over a lifetime (especially if CRISPR abuse takes off).

Nor can we assume that biometric tags uniquely identify the person to which they apply. Identical twins share a common genotype; so do rare unrelated people. And so on.

And this is just physical identity. Social identity is much, much worse (and Facebook's insane reductionist insistence that everybody has a single modular social identity and a single true name is ... well, it's why Facebook is not to be trusted, for starters: it's attempting to redefine society to make life easier for software rather than vice versa).

If you assume a distributed database with an unknown (but relatively small) fraction of bad actors, how do you prevent malicious changes?

Here's a tip: the internet domain name system has been working on this problem for decades now.

89:

Re: 'We can't assume any biometric tags except the full genome persist across a lifetime ...'

Not so sure about this. Know someone who had an allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) and wanted to use one of those mail-order DNA ancestry kits. Couldn't because the lab would first have to parse out the two different DNAs in the blood and this is not feasible. Cheek swabs will also show two different DNAs. (The current estimate is over a quarter million folk have had a BMT. This will likely rise as BMTs are increasingly being used to treat more conditions.)

https://www.watersheddna.com/blog-and-news/stemcelltransplantgedmatch

A universal (global) ID number assigned at birth would be simplest. India is trying to implement this system by requiring that everyone present this ID in order to access any gov't service. Not everyone likes the idea, esp. the poor who most need such services but who may not have had access to the gov't dept. that issues such IDs. The rich can always go elsewhere so they too might not get counted/tracked

What happens to witness protection programs, deep-cover spies/moles, conjoined twins, abandoned/adopted very young children esp. after a natural disaster... ?


90:

Which is where "do I have to identify a person?" comes in. (e.g., the prepaid credit card; you just need to validate the card.)

There's a lot to be said for an infrastructure that tries to abstract the hard problem of associating an identity with a person and then everyone else can use that to create a reference to a narrowly functional commercial entity. ("Can spend up to 500 USD" sorts of thing, increasing in complexity form there.)

The thing not to be said for it is that nobody running the infrastructure likes it.

91:

"Corporates have huge databases"

They do, and some of them appear to be vast and deep. I say 'appear' because I haven't seen up close what sort of things the likes of your Amazons or your Googles have. Those I have seen up close are certainly vast, but they are so disjointed and incoherent as to be grotesquely unmanageable. Also the data quality is shite.

Case in point, I'm about to start a consulting job at a multinational financial institution which has had some nasty encounters with the regulators in recent years (think 'oicher rank'). They want me and a couple of colleagues to spend the next six months helping them model the data definition of a cash payment from intiation all the way through to completion, then help convince all of the payment processing system owners across multiple geographies and sectors that they should align their systems to a messaging protocol based on this data model so that the center can build a data lake to do analytics on their transaction data, improve the accuracy of their AML/KYC* processes, do better reserving, keep the regulators sweet... und so weiter.

[*] AML = anti money laundering; KYC = know your customer

I am, to say the least, skeptical that this endeavour will be remotely successful; the technical challenges are significant and the social/political/organisational barriers to acceptance are horrendous. This is a pattern I have seen repeated at other large corporates with, ahem *mature* IT estates and I haven't seen much evidence that it's going away.

Now the story might be different for newer orgs which haven't had a chance for their IT estate to degenerate into an impossible mess (but give 'em time, say I) and of course if a 'join up all our databases' programme actually succeeds against the odds in a mature org then the panoptic future comes a step closer; but IME there still exist significant hurdles to be cleared before this is achieved across large swathes of the corporate world.

Regards
Luke

92:

Need to redefine 'monetary transaction' ...

In the US & Canada almost every major retail chain has some sort of 'points' system to help them retain customers. These points are translatable into goods/services and not just with the org that awarded them but with 'partners' including internationals, e.g., air miles points. These customer retention programs have grown to the point that they've reached 'real money' status prompting gov'ts to get involved in their reporting (liability) and mergers - the two scenarios posing the highest risk that consumers might get cheated out of the points they've accrued. (Haven't seen anything about the risk of loyalty programs effectively 'discounting' the points because they do not give any 'interest' to compensate for inflation.) In a very real way, everyone is becoming a banker and issuing their own currency. There's no legal barrier to entry that I'm aware of.

https://www.slideshare.net/PWC/pwc-loyalty-programs-revenue-recognition

To the tech experts working on this: are you working alongside accountants and gov't tax/revenue depts?


93:

Actually, you've raised some points about "trading stamps" (familiar names, at least in the UK, may include Green Shield and Pink) and "discount points" schemes (include airline frequent flier clubs here) that I can't think of anyone else having made going back as far as the 1960s.

94:

These points are translatable into goods/services and not just with the org that awarded them but with 'partners' including internationals, e.g., air miles points. These customer retention programs have grown to the point that they've reached 'real money' status prompting gov'ts to get involved in their reporting (liability) and mergers

They've been there for a while. At a recent earnings report American Airlines reported that they redeem around 1.5 billion AAdvantage miles per day. PER DAY. That's a lot of value floating around considering that people value these at about $0.013 each currently.

Personally I have about $3000 (guessing here) "banked" in various points programs. (Now thinking I'll add a value column to that spreadsheet.)

95:

they've reached 'real money' status

Not as such. You can't use them to pay your taxes. (Pretty much the definition of cash money is you can use it to pay your taxes.)

More importantly from a consumer perspective, when Air Miles wiped out people's unredeemed balances from sources above a certain age, that was completely legal. Wouldn't have been legal with money.

96:

Pretty much the definition of cash money is you can use it to pay your taxes.

Revenue Canada won't let you pay your taxes with cash money. Neither will the Province of Ontario.

Wouldn't have been legal with money.

Currency expires — you have a certain time period to spend it, and then you have to hope there's a good numismatic market for it. (Try to spend pre-decimal currency to buy Charlie a pint, for example.)

97:

They won't let you pay your taxes with folding money (or a big bag of loonies) because they don't want to handle it. (After the goof with the pennies I can't say as I blame them.) But leaving aside just what "cash" means as an adjective, you can't pay your taxes with Air Miles.

Currency gets re-issued or re-denominated; it doesn't as-such expire. Air Miles points are still Air Miles points, they just declared a bunch of them unredeemed and unredeemable. They didn't issue New Air Miles Points at some rate of exchange to the old.

(I would have preferred redenomination to ditching pennies; we need to re-issue the paper money every so often anyway as an anti-counterfeiting measure, why not knock a zero off and reassure everybody who remembers five cent chocolate bars that the money is worth something?)

98:

Re: 'You can't use them to pay your taxes.'

Ditto what Robert said, and ...

Would not be surprised if some of these outfits (in the event of a merger/sale/begging for gov't 'loan'/handout) decided to bite the bullet and offer dollars-for-points just so that they could wipe a liability off their books. BTW - my bank/credit card accrues 'points' that I can use for merchandise, travel and bill/credit card payment. Haven't tried it, but could probably use it to pay my taxes because my bank doesn't really care which account/bill the payment is for just so long as they don't get burned. Therefore, my bank credit card points are 'cash' as per your definition.


Anyways back to the topic ... I'm guessing that regions with the fewest financial institutions and merchants that accept credit & gift cards (as opposed to regions with the smallest populations) might have the best chance at making complete user transaction privacy work because fewer points of intersection enabling someone to triangulate on a specific person.


And, I'm getting a hunch that verifiable total end-to-end personal transaction privacy would cost many multiples more than the value of these individuals' saleable data. Cash works best for anonymity because it doesn't 'stick' to any parts of the transaction. So that leaves: an unsticky (yet somehow regulated) electronic token repository or platform?

99:

David L @ 78:

And on another note. newegg.com got hacked for the last month. Someone managed to embed a tracker in their web site that collected billing information at check out. Ugh.

How far back does that go? And have they corrected the problem?

I haven't bought anything from Newegg in a while, not since January or so, but they're my GO-TO vender for hard-drives (since the Tiger Direct store closed) and I'm going to need to make an order soon.

100:

Martin @ 80:

The government and corporates already have huge databases on us all.
Probably not. Although it does make for nice film/TV tropes.

If you're working legally (i.e. not cash under the table) here in the U.S., the Federal Government does have one gigantic database where they're storing information about you.

101:

Semi-related to the topic, someone figured out a way to hack smart contracts and on September 9th diverted about $24,250 to their anonymous account over six hours of activity. This is pocket change compared to the hacks against Bitcoin repositories but it's a proof of concept that adding "smart contract" to "cryptocurrency" does not produce a theft-proof combination of buzzwords.

102:

Revenue Canada won't let you pay your taxes with cash money. Neither will the Province of Ontario.

I feel someone should make a joke about Canadian Tire Money, but it would probably be lost on everyone east of the Atlantic.

Of course, like most sane people I'd accept that before cryptocurrencies; it's a simple matter of what is most like negotiable currency. *grin*

103:

The problem with electronic cash is that almost any effort to counterfeit it is worth making. This is why the contact-less payment systems -- all the "tap your card" or NFC stuff -- get rolled out with transaction limits. They want to see if it really is hard to hack before exposing all that much money.

104:

They want to see if it really is hard to hack before exposing all that much money.

Down here they don't trust any of the electronic systems except the voice-over-telephone one. Even that has limits, I had to visit a branch to transfer $250k the other day (separation assets, not spending money sadly). I've been rung by a fair number of banks over the years along the lines of "that's a lot of money, just checking that you meant to transfer it".

The contactless payment stuff down here is limited to $100 a time and PIN every third AFAIK. I've used it maybe twice, the main effect on me is forcing me to buy and carry an RF-resistance container to keep my cards in. By number of transactions overwhelming I use cash and will keep doing that until it no longer works (or becomes as traceable as online spending. OCR is increasingly cheap and easy, it's only a matter of time before banknote scanners become the default way to accept them).

105:

"Down here they don't trust any of the electronic systems except the voice-over-telephone one."

Which is the easiest one to hack.

106:

newegg.com got hacked for the last month. ... How far back does that go? And have they corrected the problem?

The attack occurred between Aug. 14 and Sept. 18, security firms RiskIQ and Volexity said in a report.

107:

I feel someone should make a joke about Canadian Tire Money, but it would probably be lost on everyone east of the Atlantic.

And maybe anyone south of Lake Erie.

108:

Time was the Co-op (Co-operative Society, a chain of customer-owned grocery shops and other businesses like funeral parlours) had their own currency. I used to get some of it as a kid, the "divi" or dividend on purchases, an early form of cashback or store points but in a tangible form. They were issued in the form of brass or even plastic coins of low denomination. In theory they could only be spent in Co-ops but kids used the coins as an in-group currency to trade toys, comics etc. They weren't dependent on one kid or a small group maintaining the value of the tokens, that was an adult thing.

For an SFnal version of this sort of in-group wealth accounting system see the excellent SF anime series, "Dennou Coil" where kids playing in a world with ubiquitous VR/AR have their own "currency" consisting of game drops, "metabugs" they use to buy, sell and trade with each other. There are even brokerages, currency conversion facilities, futures options etc.

109:

#95 and #96 - I think you're both confusing "acceptable means of exchange" with "legal tender".

An "acceptable means of exchange" is anything commonly accepted as a means of settling a debt. For example, Nojay talks about Co-Op tokens in #107 (I don't remember these but Co-Op Societies used to be regional (even down to town/city (US definition) level) and I don't think we've ever lived in the same Co-Op territory. I do remember the Co-Op starting with member accounts which were credited when you made a purchase there, and later issuing trading stamps on transactions with completed books of stamps being redeemable means of exchange against purchases, and now switching to member accounts again. Here in Scotland, the main 3 clearing banks issue their own "notes" which are commonly accepted in payment.

"Legal tender" in the UK is "Bank of England coins and notes which must be accepted in payment".

110:

Interesting. UK contactless payment is limited to GB£30 per transaction, and the reader has a range of under 50mm, often actually requiring the card to be pressed against the reader VDU, so a pocket gauss cage is not required.

111:

Scotland recently introduced a 50p/Unit minimum retail price for alcohol. This isn't a tax, it's a floor on pricing as a public health measure. A side-effect of this is that the small print on the discount vouchers issued by supermarkets through loyalty card schemes (£1 off a £10 shop, £4 off a £30 shop etc) cannot be applied to any combination including alcohol in Scotland (it might bring the alcohol price below the floor). My VISA card has cash-back promotions and this week I can get 5% back on my next purchase of £5 or more at the co-op. The co-op sells alcohol. VISA doesn't know what the items in my shopping are and the co-op doesn't know that I'm getting a rebate from VISA.

112:

I certainly handled such plastic coins in the early 1960s, going to the shop to buy groceries as well as getting them from my parents or even finding them in the street. The coinage probably grew out of the "milk token" system the Co-op used where customers would buy specially-made coins in the shop then leave them out with the empty glass milk bottles for morning delivery as payment. The Co-op milkman didn't have to make change or carry a lot of coins with them and it was less likely that a passer-by would steal the tokens as they could only be exchanged for milk...

113:

"voice-over-telephone one." ... Which is the easiest one to hack.

Do tell?

I'm aware of SIM hijacking and so on, but just having my phone number doesn't help unless they also have the password or the correct lies I tell about my first pet and so on. There's a whole lot going on in order to verify the up-to-$20k transaction and it just seems labour intensive to me when you can auto-scam more than that without needing to jump through so many hoops. Or at least I hope so, for my own sake.

Note that this is to *verify* an online transfer, not to initiate one. "phone banking" still exists, but can be disabled (although you need to check regularly as they sometimes re-enable it). Banks here are really pushing phone apps and online banking, both of which have transaction and per-day limits that you can configure. Changing them, oddly enough, can be done online but generally has both a delay and a ring-to-verify step. Oh, and the $20k/day maximum upper limit.

114:

I feel someone should make a joke about Canadian Tire Money, but it would probably be lost on everyone east of the Atlantic.

And maybe anyone south of Lake Erie.

Maybe not. GDW put some Canadian Tire money on the cover of the Merc:2000 Gazetteer, along with other strange currency:

https://rpggeek.com/image/616459/merc-2000-gazetteer

115:

reader has a range of under 50mm... so a pocket gauss cage is not required.

Paying $5 for a new card wallet was necessary so I chose a metal one. It's unlikely to be necessary but it keeps the unicorns away.

I work with RFID readers as well as a few other near-field devices, so I'm possibly more aware of the fine print than average. But the key thing is that while the extremely reliable, low-cost, high-volume reader in the public device has a range of a few millimetres that is not the only possibility. With a cubic metre and a kilowatt to play with you can manually read one card every minute at a range of metres (more than 10m for RFID in one case).

That's what I call a low-return, high-risk operation though. On the other hand, the people who make ATM skimmers might well be able to make a set up like those US metal-detecting doors that would read everyone at a range of one metre. The problem there is that it could be set up to bilk a dollar out of everyone walking down a corridor. Say, in a train station.

116:

The contactless payment stuff down here is limited to $100 a time and PIN every third AFAIK.

Simpler, I’m afraid. No PIN for under $100, PIN for anything over.

117:

Re: Newegg data breach

Excerpt from your link:

'Magecart is the same criminal group behind all three data breaches, according to threat management firm RiskIQ. The attacks follow a similar pattern. Magecart tends to ignore company databases or servers and instead targets customers’ personal data by injecting scripts on payment platforms.'


So every point of contact needs to be secure, and every point needs to be continually scanned/verified to ensure no surprises. Basically, transaction systems that provide live 24/7 security which I had assumed were already in place. Could be interpreted as corporate negligence/irresponsibility which means winnable class-action lawsuits plus gov't fines.

118:

All I meant was that I didn't remember tokens being issued by Dumbarton EQS between 1967 (when I might have been allowed to go to the nearest grocery co-op by myself, and the introduction of the stamp system. And all that seems to prove is that I was never in your Co-op district (maybe ScotMid?)

Also I do remember Clydebank EQS issuing stamps which worked in my Mum's stamp books when I was in my teens.

Your MDV here, and where we lived seems like the most likely explanation I think?

119:

And then there's Daytona.

No, unless you've worked with a NorthAm telco, you probably don't know it. over 10 years ago (or was that 20+?) it was significantly over 3TB, and consists of flat files, with C programs written to access it, since nothing else was fast enough.

It's the Bellcore d/b, with records of ever phone call ever made, back to "Mr. Watson, come here, I need you!"

120:

"Separation assets" - is that as in, you leaving a company, or is that as in, personal? If the latter, I'm really sorry.

As I've mentioned, I've been married too many times....

121:

Btw, folks, for those concerned about RFID scanners, when my ex and I went/came to the UK in '14 for Worldcon, I got us RFID-scanner proof wallets, for passports, etc. I'm very pleased by what I bouth - they're leather, and my ex is still using hers as a wallet for her id & cards.

The company's called difrware....

122:

I think this system is only secure if the two banks don't combine their information:

1. Your bank knows that you sent money to a certain payment target.
2. The other bank knows that, when money arrives at that target, they're supposed to notify Joe Seller that the payment has arrived, so he can send the goods.
3. Combining those pieces of information, the government knows that you sent money to Joe Seller.

If the banks are in separate countries, this might be safe. But there are many scenarios where it's not - if the Chinese government is cracking down on Chinese citizens for wrongthink, there's a good chance that the buyer, the seller, and both banks are all located in China. And while subpoenaing individual citizens to get at their transaction history is a lot of work, regulating banks is pretty easy by comparison.

I'm not sure hiding your True Name from the bank is practical, either. Even if we ignore the fact that this is something that can and will be regulated out of existence (the ability to go to a bank and say "who made this suspicious transaction?" is a pretty important investigative tool), there are a lot of things that can link your real name to your bank account, like your job, or your landlord.

Also, if your bank doesn't know your True Name, there is no way for you to recover your money if you lose whatever token you generated for them. You know how, every week or so, you hear about a Bitcoin user who lost the password to their wallet and then discovered that it was (by design) completely impossible to get at their money? Similar problem - you can't go to your bank and say "I'm Jim Buyer, can you reset my password?" if your bank doesn't know you from Adam.

123:

Just for the sake of mentioning: I'm re-reading Scorched Earth Society, short essay, 2014, available online in pdf form."
a. Scary stuff.
b. Don't show to your parents.
c. I'm still too profane in these matters.

124:

whitroth @ 119:

And then there's Daytona.

No, unless you've worked with a NorthAm telco, you probably don't know it. over 10 years ago (or was that 20+?) it was significantly over 3TB, and consists of flat files, with C programs written to access it, since nothing else was fast enough.

It's the Bellcore d/b, with records of ever phone call ever made, back to "Mr. Watson, come here, I need you!"

I'm afraid you've completely lost me there. I can understand the Bell System having a database of all the telephone calls ever made over the Bell System, but how would they log calls made on non-Bell systems?

126:

Thanks. It was an easygoing separation, we already had housemates so moving into a different bedroom and rented a room off me for about a year while we did the legal paperwork ... and then she put her money back into my mortgage (I pay more interest than savings accounts do). But then she got worried about the risk and took it out and put it into a 3% savings account.

Most of my hassle has been dealing with yet another person who can't believe we're still friends and has to explain to me at some length that their mental capacity is insufficient for the task. Saying "I get it, you're a moron" doesn't speed things up :) I suspect part of her pulling money out of my account was a result of lots of similar discussions on her side. Eventually the morons grind you down.

I still have her chickens as she's renting an inner city studio apartment. She's always wanted to do that, and now she's experiencing both the upsides and downsides of it... like no space for chickens. She pays for the feed, I get the eggs, it works for me.

127:

I'm re-reading Scorched Earth Society, short essay, 2014, available online in pdf
Thanks for that. (pdf link) Fun, provocative talk.
I think Peter Watts underestimates what could be done with cloud data storage services. Without examining existing work[0], which surely is extensive and interesting, one could imagine using multiple jurisdictions (e.g. countries) both for redundancy (as is done now) and for privacy, e.g. by requiring M of N (M <= N) storage sites to respond to reassemble the data. Plenty of legal and other challenges, including GDPR.
Also, money (and power) can buy some privacy, but it is by no means absolute.
And etc. Plenty to argue with in that essay, though that was I think one of the points.

[0] A sample paper (with Alice but no Bob :) ), 2017; I have no clue whether it's any good.
Lavinia: An audit-payment protocol for censorship-resistant storage

128:

one could imagine using multiple jurisdictions (e.g. countries) both for redundancy and for privacy

That would require a level of optimisim about the number of jurisdictions, though. "Five Eyes" means that those countries are effectively one jurisdiction, and "Europe" is another, except that they are very deeply intertwined at both technological and legal levels so you might as well count them as one. Then you have China, and possibly Russia (although again, they co-operate heavily in some areas) but both are so pro-surveillance and anti-individual that I'm not sure you'd want to use them. That's two? Is there a third? Host stuff in... DRC? Tuvalu? Sealand?

Of course at a hardware level we are already a single jurisdiction (Spectre!), and that's also increasingly true at an internet level. When AWS had DNS problems a while ago an awful lot of people discovered that their "second independent system" had a little caveat "except for..." and it didn't work either. My workplace got some flak from customers for that, but actually trying to audit our (relatively simple) system to make sure we are pure Google on one side and pure AWS on the other is not simple.

Either way, there is only one jurisdiction of cloud providers available in Australia and kind-of a second if you're willing to use the first for transport (USA, optionally with China). Our government has helpfully made it explicit that they spy on all internet traffic but it would be easier if we decrypted it for them...

129:

AFAIK cloud services ARE concerned of safety of data of their clients, and as such, they keep their data highly distributed and encrypted. You can't know which servers are containing relevant data and only HQ can access all of the network to bring it up. So, pretty much, it does not matter where the servers with sensitive data are located, it is important that their HQ is under certain jurisdiction.

Recent debate about Telegram message service is a textbook example of that. It uses highly encrypted network with p2p connections, so at some point Federal Security Service politely asked them (or rather, it's owner) to hand over encryption keys if he wants to continue operate withing this country. He rudely refused and mounted the whole campaign to resist them, and government started to block access to their servers (which wasn't too gracefully executed, to say at least, because they only have access to local servers). This dragged on for several month, until it kinda decayed. And for good reason - many has suspected that the messanger has been cooperating with other countries' special services for quite a while.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/telegram-encrypted-messaging-app-cooperate-terror-investigations-not-russia/
https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/1014570/WhatsApp-update-Google-Drive-encryption-backups

Well, really, it presents even more problems - most IT corporations are located in the jurisdictions of US. It does not matter where the data are located, as long as the US can make a rule to arrest the owners of corporation, raid their HQ or make threats to act on the basis of their "law".

There's a good side in everything, though. I think, most problems for security protocols are going to come from the lack of qualified manpower. You may create automatic sorting algorithms, spy networks, collect all the data you need and even more, spy on people from every corner and camera, but you will also need people who will be able to control this system and make decisions. They need to be well-educated, with pure thought, clean hands and cold head. Otherwise, it will become corrupted, useless, ineffective, and eventually it is going to destroy itself and every society around it. So if people will see it early enough, without clouding their minds with abstract liberal theories, they might just make it in time to regulate privacy more strictly.

Historical example: the Great Purge. Most people do not understand the complexity of this historical event and attribute it to Stalin's own political madness. What actually happened, is that there was a government-supported system of terror (aka "red terror") that was established in the time of Civil War and actively regulated through 20-s recover period, giving birth to various secret services (you can read the reference to that in Master and Margarita). Unfortunately, with rapid industrialization of the 30-s the system started to run wild, and people started to exploit it for their own gain and profit. It only took the extremely harsh and steady-handed involvement of Politburo and especially Stalin himself to stop the terror practice, reform penitentiary system and turn it's attention towards more urgent matters. Not that it stopped repressions completely...

130:

sleepingroutine
Your last 2 prargraphs...
The first is a picture of the "DDR" justbefore the Wall fell ... & the STASI was operating at full stretch, spying on everyone & couldn't keep up, & dragging the DDR state down with them - but it didn't stop them - they were only stopped by the collapse of the state they were serving, dragged down by theor own procedures.
Your last paragraph is quite simply not true, in any version of reality I've ever encountered.
I'm not going to call you a liar, but you are certainbly "Not even wrong"
J V Dzhugashvili was entirely responsible for the whole thing, enthusiasically hepled by many, I'm afraid

131:

The first is a picture of the "DDR" justbefore the Wall fell
Well, the wall itself fell because Mr. Marked One decided to trade his country's foreign interests for a shipment of grain to plug holes in his economy. So you can't blame everything on their security. Moral of the story: don't do that.

Also I've heard the story that STASI fell so fast because of the KGB plans to meddle with it's future owners (certain three-letter agencies) business by pulling out early. By ensuring the rapid disassembly of former power structure and burying their secrets, it created the vacuum of power that resulted in several independent groups that were much harder to manage.

Your last paragraph is quite simply not true, in any version of reality I've ever encountered.
Now you've encountered it, and you better be mindful of it from now on.
Because you can't assume yourself omniscient, can you?

132:

No
The secuity police were no longer willing to mass ( or even indivdually ) murder their own people any more.
Those morals that are being spoken of elsewhere caught up with them ....

I was aware of the lies of the apologists for mass muder & terror & various forms of unspeakable cruelty, to all intents & purposes indistinguishable from those of the Nazis.
Yes, I have read & still have a copy of Bullocks "Hitler & Stalin - Parallel Lives"
I've also read "One day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch" & "First Circle" & "Cancer Ward".
I've been right up, as close as I dared to the outer edge of the Worker's Paradsie of the DDR, guarded by machine-gun posts, abrbed wire & mines.
You are defending this ( I think ) - why? It served no "Moral" purpose whatsoever.
No I - am not omniscient, but Stalin was still a monster & a mass-murderer & guilty.
[ Ditto Yezhov & Yagoda & Beria ]

133:

The secuity police were no longer willing to mass ( or even indivdually ) murder their own people any more.
Yes, "any more" is the important part. And the definition of "their own people" is also of very diverse nature. For example, Japanese people in US during the World War weren't "their own people", so it was fine just to settle scores with them. Russian people in modern Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine are considered "not their won people" by the law, and no western human rights group attempt to defend their rights.

Yes, I have read & still have a copy of Bullocks "Hitler & Stalin - Parallel Lives"
I've also read "One day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch" & "First Circle" & "Cancer Ward".
Fine with you, you are well-read man. However, I have one specific advantage - I live in this country. My parents and grandparents and grand-grand parents lived/died in this country. I visited many cities, heard hundred of stories of life, read a thousand books and articles of history from every angle. And I can name dozen countries and territories which are guarded barbed wire and guns right now, not in abstract point of time.

No I - am not omniscient, but Stalin was still a monster & a mass-murderer & guilty.
All humans are monsters - some of them are less apparent, though.

I was wondering some day several years ago, the Cold War ended up almost 30 years ago, and now I see that our former enemies did not learn anything at all about the cause of conflict and how to avoid it in the future, to actually learn something out of it. Oh wait, I know the answer, I thought - they decided it is a good idea to start it all over again.

134:

I'm going to give some perspective. I remember my years when I was in school in my home city, which is a bit to the north than most of cities in my country. So it has a bit of that grim northern industrial atmosphere.

To ride from my parents to my grandparent's house you need to cross the bridge over the railway line and riverbed of a small river. It is also one of two a major bridges connecting two parts of the city, old and new. Right by the side of the bridge (50 meters from it), spanning the railroad, there was an old water pipe on supports. There were several of these pipes down below as well, I assume they were mostly for heating (heating pipes are usually about 30+ cm in diameter without insulation). But I this one is somewhat of a special derelict - it was right on the level of the bridge, and it was of a dull brown color of rust. What is important is that it had a very notable text written on it's side, in plain sight, in white color visible from the bridge every time you drive past it, it read: "STALIN IS OUR FATHER AND CHIEF", in Russian of course.

I don't remember when this particular graffiti came to be there, at least since 2002 or so, and I don't remember anyone minding it at any time. Not that anybody would care about this particular pipe any more than of any other piece of rusty metal lying around (it is not a goddamn memorial). I assume if it wasn't on railroad's ground, it would have been scrapped even back then in the middle of the 90-s for the metal content of it, like most metal left without an owner. It was there when I left the city to get higher education elsewhere, but I visit the city regularly anyway, and the pipe is still there. It wasn't until much later, I think 2008 or so, some youth started to paint it over with their own graffiti - one year it was just several more letters, next year the pipe had several new words, and if you look at it through StreetView right now, it is a mess of white paint streaks washed by rain.

Conclusion: when I was in school, it wasn't very clear for me why it remained here for so long and nobody even tried to vandalize it despite the relative ease to do so for any number of reasons. Now I've grown to understand the a reason for that.

135:

# 133
Oh, the wriggling & the excuses.
You still have not actually answered many of the questions I & others have raised.
You haven't been theologically trained, have you? Because the evasions & not-quite answering are remakably like those of priests everywhere.

134
There are still people who hanker after Hitler, too.
Or want an absolutist rule of the RC church
Or support the absolutist mullahs in Persia.
There will aways be complete fucking bastads who want a "nice little dictatorship" in which OTHER PEOPLE will be crapped on.

136:

Oh, the wriggling & the excuses.
I see you don't even bother yourself with "wriggling & the excuses", you seem to be very well "theologically trained". Not that it bothers me.

There will aways be complete fucking bastads who want a "nice little dictatorship" in which OTHER PEOPLE will be crapped on.
You don't know the context, naturally. 2000 to 2003 was the period when Russian Federation was transitioning from one status quo for another. People hated liberal and "centrist" parties alike because their politics resulted in largest financial crisis since the collapse 10 years prior, and it is natural for people to look out for alternative options. So the government was really scared that liberal wing has screwed up big time, and that would result in political crisis. They thought that Communist party is going to overcome the parliament and reinstate autocratic state - so they invoked the new ideology of centrist party that would constrain oligarchic power structures and balance their interest with other people.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_State_Duma
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4th_State_Duma
Needless to say, a lot of things happened since then.

I know your arguments, we here all know them too well. Our modern "hardline" liberals often say that "people don't know what they are doing", "they are stupid", "85% of them are complete morons"(that's Putin's rating, for the reference) and "only occupation will save them". No wonder their rating is around 2-3% nowadays. Understandably, it is very noble of them to not surrender their views to popular opinion, but it is not noble to attribute their failures to secret services, corruption, conspiracy, "idiots", and any number of other excuses while their major failure is glaringly obvious.

137:

The middle paragraph of your latest could almost be describing Germany 1929-33, how nice.

As for wriggling, yes, well, I've had plenty of practice on the lying bastards of religions - usually xtian, of course, but the same arguments apply to islam, it's just that they are 622 years behind - for instance they are still using the Argument form Design for "Proof" of BigSkyFairy, oh dear. Ditto communism, which is a classic religion - other people here have heard me on that one before, so I won't follow-up on it now.

138:

The middle paragraph of your latest could almost be describing Germany 1929-33, how nice.
Yeah, I noticed this as well, there's always a danger for liberal democracy to slide into fascist state, wink-wink. The problem with that world view, as you can see, is Putin himself. UK and US hate his guts in any form, symbol and policy. On the contrary, certain fascist nations of 30-s Western/Central Europe enjoyed their unrestricted support in suppressing any communist movements, parties and revolutions, by force of the military if necessary. Not to mention Munch agreement. I don't know where this notion comes from in liberal circles, maybe it is special case of institutional amnesia.

communism, which is a classic religion
And this is where you are wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I can not attribute it to anything at all.

139:

Your "understanding" of the 1930's from the Atlantic-littoral pov ( Britain, Fance, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, even Spain before they tore themselves apart ) is minimal I'm afraid.

As for Britain & lots of other people disliking Putin - He is an autocrat - he keeps "managing" to get himself re-elected under curious circumstances & subverting the law - exactly the sort of things we are now suspicious that D Trump is going to try. And his opponents seem to wind up dead, poisoned or conveniently in jail - or hadn't you noticed?

Communism = religion
Oh dear - I'm going to have to ask Charlie's pardon & repeat myself, then - most of youo will have seen this before, so skip over it ....:

"Marxism is a religion."

I think that Bertrand Russell was the first to note this, but the behaviour of both individual Marxists, and marxist organisations, and the construction of their internal power organisation and hierarchies conforms to classical religious behaviour. For example: people read a set number of Trotsky’s saying each day, just as if he were Jesus, or Mahmud. Or appeal to “the historical inevitability of the revolution” etc …
I may add that it ( marxism/communism ) passes all the tests, if one cares to list them:
1] It has a “holy” book or books.
2] The words in those books may not be questioned, even when demonstrated proven wrong.
3] It has sub-divisions and sects and “heresy”, and heretics, in Trevor-Ropers phrase are “even wronger” than unbelievers.
4] Those sects fight each other, either by open warfare and/or in internal pogroms.
5] It is structurally based on the RC church, complete with its own “holy office”.
6] Which leads to the gulag – the communist equivalent of the churches' years of penitence and autos-de-fé.
7] Thousands if not millions are killed in the name of the “holy cause” to bring about a supposed millennium.
8] It persecutes all the competing religions.
9] In some sects it even denies Evolution by Natural Selection (look up Trofim Lysenko).

P.S. After all: Thomas Paine said, “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.”

In addition - How can you tell if it is a religion?
1: The body-count. If a large number of innocent people are killed in the name of the “holy cause”, whatever it is, then it is a religion, no matter what that particular set of true believers aver to the contrary.
2: Does it have “Blasphemy” or an equivalent?
Blasphemy is a very interesting and frightening phenomenon. Where people are essentially threatened or killed for what Eric Blair called “thoughtcrime”. Blasphemy is also often used as an internal power-tool by established religions to bear down on “heretical” views, as well as attacking unbelievers of any sort. If one is seriously deluded enough to take this sort of thing seriously, then belief an any other religion than your own, never mind an heretical sect of your own, is automatic blasphemy.
Just the simple act of being some sort of christian blasphemes islam, and vice versa, of course. History, never mind current events records the sort of bloodshed and killing that this mind-set leads to directly.
3: Does it treat a sizeable section of the population as inferior? It is usually women who get this one in the neck, but not always or uniquely so. Think of “unclean” or “low-caste” or “kulak” as well.

And the other give-away is that when I say this to Marxists, or even "momentum" they go into paroxysms of incoherent rage, which tells me I've hit the mark ....

140:

Your "understanding" of the 1930's from the Atlantic-littoral pov ( Britain, Fance, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, even Spain before they tore themselves apart ) is minimal I'm afraid.
My understanding is not "atlantic-littoral", or anything like that, it is "continental power struggle". For you to assert I do not know anything, is too pretentious to comment.

And his opponents seem to wind up dead, poisoned or conveniently in jail - or hadn't you noticed?
Conveniently enough, most of them find themselves on the territory outside Russian jurisdiction, their death immediately considered as crimes against their countries and timely brought under the new sanction packet (after which the real investigation starts). For the reference, in non-virtual criminal practice, it is normally to do the investigation and only then to declare responsible.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/20/police-to-question-alex-king-salisbury-scare-suspected-hoax
I think, at this point, these people publicly dishonored your country by pranking it into another panic attack.

Communism = religion
Exactly opposite - anticommunism is a religion.
Or should I say, fascism? A malicious, soul-wrecking religion and a cult of death and destruction, that was born and raised in Europe to oppose Communists and their threats to "free world".

And the other give-away is that when I say this to Marxists, or even "momentum" they go into paroxysms of incoherent rage
I can't say I'm Marxist, but I can see you going into incoherent rampage just by suggesting that communism isn't, in fact, an incarnation of your worst fears.

141:

All ideology is religion. The West's religion of capitalism has put so much effort into propagandising against the heresy of communism that even this long after the "end" of the Cold War it's difficult to even mention communism without provoking a knee-jerk antipathetic reflex. People are far too likely to think "the USSR was communist, therefore communism == the USSR" without noticing the logical fallacy. It is assumed that communism necessarily requires duplicating the USSR (envisaged particularly in terms of Stalin's USSR), including duplicating all the things the USSR got wrong or did badly. The possibility of learning from the mistakes and using that knowledge to try and do better is either dismissed or not even considered.

142:

including duplicating all the things the USSR got wrong or did badly.

My understanding of communism and the USSR is that it was a convenient label to veneer over the actual government imposed on the USSR. Basically a PR label.

Not that I think that communism is a workable government for more than a village or few.

143:

Communism = religion
Exactly opposite - anticommunism is a religion.
Or should I say, fascism? A malicious, soul-wrecking religion and a cult of death and destruction, that was born and raised in Europe to oppose Communists and their threats to "free world".

I'm going to risk the wrath of the moderators & say LIAR to that.
The alternative is that you are deluded to the point of needing medical help, of course ....

You should have read enough of the comments here to recognise the revulsion all of us feel to fascism.
I REPEAT: I have worked with people who had escaped the NSDAP, including two with interesting wrist-tattoes .....
Communism, as a governemt-system, from my pov as an "ordinary citizen" is indistinguishable from fascism, in that it kills & imprisons anyone who gets in its' way, simply by objecting - please refer back to Bullock.

Pigeon
Well, there has not, yet ever been a communist governement that did not put its political opponents in prisons or worse, simply for opposing them .......

David L
Yes - Charlie says this, as well, & I agree with both of you.

144:

Cahoot used to almost do this - single use credit card numbers you could generate from an app.

Scrapped, presumably because it meant merchants couldn't spot fraud and/or track purchasers across multiple properties.

145:

to Pigeon @141
All ideology is religion.
Thats a bit of stretching of definition, but, true that, ideology replaces religion in our contemporary lives. The thing is, ideology is more rationally interconnected and more fitting for industrial age.

to GT @143
I'm going to risk the wrath of the moderators & say LIAR to that.
Not going to take offense for that, it is simply no true. A liar is a person who knows the truth and speaks otherwise - I am no liar. "To speak the truth is easy and pleasant."

I REPEAT: I have worked with people who had escaped the NSDAP, including two with interesting wrist-tattoes
I was led to believe that apologists of liberal worldview are confident that National Socialism and Soviet Socialism are the same thing (apparently because there's "socialism" in their names) and all Soviets are in fact covert Nazis who want to rule the world - but it is only now I meet such a person.

You should have read enough of the comments here to recognise the revulsion all of us feel to fascism.
My emotions towards fascism can not described by mere characteristic of "revulsion" or "disgust". It is a burning sensation of withering rage - and you should not have compared me to that scum. Do you have any idea how it smells like, having a smoldering radical nationalistic dumpster in your backyard? I can show you.

146:

And you should not have invoked the medical argument, because sentiments of that kind really grind my gears. I am forced to put my train of thought on reverse and do some research.

And I am unpleasantly surprised again. As we know, Wikipedia is one of the easies general sources of information online, claiming to be "free encyclopedia". On the topic of "political abuse of psychiatry" there's a fairly sizable article that contains mostly general and vague description of psychiatric systems in countries like Cuba, China and USSR. Of US, there's only a about 1000 words of general description of singular cases and general phrases. Of Britain, there's simply no mentioning.

It would be fair and square, but unfortunately that's not all there is, ffs. There are links for two adjacent articles about and "Political abuse of psychiatry in Russia"(8000+ words) "Political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union"(whopping 29 000 words of the same bullshit and references on the same type of material). And of course there's nothing anywhere any other articles about any country anywhere in the world.

To describe this as "sweeping under the rag", "whataboutism" and intervention into internal affairs of other country would be an great understatement. The Cold War was supposed to be over 30 years ago, yet none of it's myths and deceptions in US-centered worlds have been disproved, or studied, or even frowned upon, because they are so convenient to push people around through their minute fears, ignorance and lack of education.

147:

I understand. My most recent divorce - we're still friends. But then, during the separation and for a bit after the divorce, I made it a point, and she agreed, that we were Adults, and didn't hate each other, it just didn't work as a relationship.

I bought out her share of the house. She occasionally does me the favor of taking care of my Lord&Master, and she's brought her dog over for me to take care of when she went out of town.

*sigh* Peopl;e are so used to hearing what they keep hearing. I used to, um, it wasn't an apology, it was "please try to understand", back when my late wife's mother was still alive, that I would tell poeple that we cared about each other, as opposed to 56,999,340 mother-in-law jokes/stories.

148:

s-r @ 145
Excepting Turkey - proceeding steadily towards a fascist state & Hungary, where Orban is teetering on the brink
There are no fascist or eveb quasi-fasist states or systems in W Europe - simply detected by the way that governements & Heads of the Executive change at election-times & the absence of threats, imprisonment etc directed to those not currently in power.
You've been told this many times & simply ignore it & make completely untrue non-fact-based allegations.

AHHHH - your para #3
NOW you are almost making sense! ( But then you fucked-up with a disgraceful lying allegation... )
THAT is a very common trope amongst the US rabid-right - I've come across it several times.
It simply ain't true & you should not believe it.
And no, you have not met such a person - the only political party I have ever been a member of - for about 3 years - was the UK Liberal Democrats.
I would remind you that to what an USAian would call "The ordinary joe" the practical effects of living under either communism or fascism are/were indistinguishable.
One of the tattoo-wearers I referred to was a very interesting case - as a teenager, he was in the "outer" section of (I think) Theresienstadt - but released in 1945.
Went to University ( Prague ) & promptly slung into the Soviet Gulag in 1948 ....
Like I said, practical difference - ZERO
See also Katyn Forest
Well, the Soviets CLAIMED that they, or rather their system should rule the world, didn't they?

149:

Sorry, Greg, but your list is horse hockey. You want sects and fueds? Never been in a fan fued? Hell, Lunacon is dead, due to friggin' fan fueds and "my way or the highway" egos.

Hey, I've got a Holy Book for you, that may not be challanged: the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Go ahead, argue...

I'm surprised that you didn't do what usually happens over here, socialism == communism == Stalin.

Hell, until Bernie ran in '16, what 90+% of Americans knew of socialism was *exactly* what "good Germans" knew of Jews in 1938.

Now, I, personally, disagree with Communism, becuae I can't see a "withering away of the state", because there's got to be *someone* OUSIDE any dispute to settle thinbgs, if nothing else, and to protect you against the Big Guys (and in the US, the gov't, being bought, is failing in that, in fact, it's helping hand us over to them.).

I am, however, a socialist, and when I finally get around to writing my political book, I'll be able to call myself a Markist....

150:

Actually, relevant to this, is the late Isaac Bonewits' Cult Evaluatin Scale.
http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html

151:

Oh, yes, let's not talk about the West's use of "psychiatry".

I have a friend who's a degreed practicing psychologist Psychiatrists, on the other hand... let's skip over One Flew Over The Cucoo's Nest, and get a stronger view: Joe Haldeman's 1968.

If you've not read it, I won't say enjoy, because you will be depressed afterwards. I'll note that Joe considers this part of a triptych: Forever War, 1968, and Forever Peace. 1968 isn't sf... but....

152:

There are no fascist or eveb quasi-fasist states or systems in W Europe
I can name 4 more countries that are hardline enough to be brought to ICJ - but aren't, because they are keeping ties with certain powerful entities.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Inu_-0dcSU

One of the tattoo-wearers I referred to was a very interesting case - as a teenager, he was in the "outer" section of (I think) Theresienstadt - but released in 1945.
"Outer section" doesn't sound like a very definitive place. If I would be an investigator, I would immediately question circumstances of his release and movements after that. As you can see, 1948 wasn't there "immediately" after 1945, it took whole 3 years and by the time the Cold War was heating up with record pace.

I would remind you that to what an USAian would call "The ordinary joe" the practical effects of living under either communism or fascism are/were indistinguishable.
No shit Sherlock, If you are not living in the middle of Europe and don't have bombs and artillery shells flying over your head, every major practical/theoretical conflict seems like a distant squabble. (My current city was far enough from the frontline and got only a one bombing raid during the war.)

Well, the Soviets CLAIMED that they, or rather their system should rule the world, didn't they?
Nothing special there, most of them do. Not to speak about other pretty obvious system that already states that it owns the world and does not need any contenders.

Well, personally, I would disagree with any form of "old" communism if it is to be reinstated (even in emergency situation we are facing today). But it is the same as to compare medieval crusades with modern counter-terrorist operations in the Middle East. Oh there are some pretty ardent people who like to draw parallels, but it is only in a figural sense.

to whitroth
No, I am not ready to go in, it was an outburst.
Forever War
Oh well, I've read it. It left a strange feeling afterwards, compared to S-Troopers. But the Forever Peace was depressing alright. Also, Mindbridge... yeah, it seems like Haldemann had rather exotic ideas for the time.

153:

WHitroth @ 149
The "Rubber Bible" contains FACTs that can be checked ...

OH BTW I wish to correct myself from # 148 ( AND - please, sleepingroutine, take note? )
THIS
Hungary definitely heading towards fascism - I was out of date it seems.

I already pointed out ( More than once ) that democratic scialism != communism.And Stalin != Hitler, but both were murderous autocrats, right?

My Marxism leans towards Groucho of course ....

Thersienstadt ( or whichever camp it was ) had a section for younger people/teenagers who were not for immediate working to death or "processing, apparently. As I said, he was released by the arrival of the soviets in 1945 - but they then locked him up in 1948 - into one of the "First Circle" Gulag-camp/prisons. [ Reference to Slozenystsyn there ]
The story of his gradual release & eventula escape, of which I have only been told fragments was fascinating.

You seem to not be able to tell that "old" communism is communism - as practised in say the DPRK.

154:

As long as we're recommending books, two by Edwin Black:

War Against the Weak
https://waragainsttheweak.com

IBM and the Holocaust
https://ibmandtheholocaust.com

Nt cheerful, but worth reading…

155:

Hungary definitely heading towards fascism
I'm not talking about countries that are heading somewhere, I'm talking about countries that are fascist right now.

but both were murderous autocrats, right?
The problem is that Stalin wasn't any more murderous than any leaders of his time. He is hated because of everything else he did - he managed to stop the self-destructive madness of revolution, to plug the holes in economy and to save country from total destruction, that would result in total wipe-out of any "unworthy" nations in the continent. It is because of this period, long and hard one that is worse than American Great Depression, we have modern and developed nation today and not African-styled backyard like some of our neighbors.

That epoch has been ridiculed to unbelievable degree because he dared to go against the dictatorship of the First world. His successor was a biggest offender of his reputation, but of course, it is not enough for the mortal enemy to just expose the truth or even go overboard with it, it is necessary to continuously induce hysteria, brandish his image as a scarecrow for the whole world. And, if unrestricted, it goes all the way to the Hitlerism apologizing, naturally, no need to stop for that.

As I said before once (and I dare you to remember this at last), almost all criminal cases that happened in USSR since the end of revolution and establishing of the bureaucracy, has been documented, archived and reviewed many times - which is why so many people have been rehabilitated and this is the reason a person like Solzhenitsyn was even able to write his books. This is the difference - fascist are allowed to kill their victims without remorse, without reason, without trial. They burned their books and documents, and deserted, so nobody would know the crimes they committed. Fascist are telling us that there were millions murdered by USSR, because they do not value human life and it makes no difference for them to pin these number on somebody else.

You seem to not be able to tell that "old" communism is communism
Another common malpractice among both liberals and isolated leftist circles - "that wasn't communism". I was a communism, of course, and there's no need to apologize for what it did. And moreover, no need to apologize for things that it did NOT, because "millions of raped women" and "100 million of innocent victims" do not exist and were invented and improved by the same people who started with Reichsministerium of Truth.

It's not like I'm exaggerating anywhere at all, there are more severely harsher characteristics flying around from where I hail. As I said, Putin, for once, is pretty liberal compared to many of the views that are popular in this country. The reason why he is hated as everything else around him - is a common, boring and unimaginative russophobia. And this is very sad situation.

156:

The problem is that Stalin wasn't any more murderous than any leaders of his time

The evidence calls you a liar.

No Western European leader (other than Hitler) managed to kill as many of their own population as any one of the Holodomor, or the Purges, or the forced resettlements. And I'd suggest that those Poles who were murdered at Katyn might also suggest that you're utterly wrong.

So I'd suggest that yes, Stalin was murderous. More murderous than anyone else until Chairman Mao.

Unless, of course, you deny the Purges, the Holodomor, or the killings in Katyn, or the deportations of the Chechens and Ingush, etc, etc.

It was Soviet historians, working from Soviet archives (such as Dmitri Volkogonov and Olga Shatunovskaya) who calculated that 19 million "enemies of the people" were arrested, and that 7 million of them were shot...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_settlements_in_the_Soviet_Union#Population_statistics

157:

sr @ 155
I'm talking about countries that are fascist right now.
And, presumably NOT including Hungary?
OK, I'll bite - name them?
( And not - yet - the USA, though some sections of it are well-down that road, especially where it comes to "controlling" who gets to vote in often-rigged elections. ]

which is why so many people have been rehabilitated
Usually after they were conveniently dead, of course. How nice.
fascist are allowed to kill their victims without remorse, without reason, without trial
Just like the NKVD/MGB/KGB perpetrators in fact - both were brutal autocracies - the label is almost irrelevant.
They burned their books and documents, and deserted, so nobody would know the crimes they committed.
FLAT UNTRUE & YOU KNOW IT.
Otherwise, how come so many Nazis were convicted later, from the evidence of theor own records?

SEE ALSO Martin's comment, which is spot on.

158:

to Martin @156
[citation needed]
Article has 0 mentioning of disbanding of these settlements that occurred in 1945-1954.
Thank you very much again for providing links to irrelevant resources, estimated numbers and partial information. Next time, if you want to be more precise and find sources that deserve to be mentioned 80 years after the event.

You can use online translator to read this^
http://actualhistory.ru/2008060101
This one is a quite famous archive research, conducted in the last years of USSR, when archives were opened for statistics and there was government commission to work with them. These considerations are strict, unemotional and respective to the memory of the victims of injustice. They do not use approximations and estimations, calculation and manipulation - these are only authentic data available.

OK, I'll bite - name them?
I thought you've had enough time to see the video I linked you RIGHT THERE IN THE SAME POST.
Oh wait, there's more!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Apygul-1M0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SfZO87XZHQ
Do I need to remind you what the word "Legion" means?
Do I need to tell you where the entire Jewish population of this country went to?
Would any of these "veterans" say they aren't the patriots of their country which would protect it from all enemies such as jews and bolsheviks?

Otherwise, how come so many Nazis were convicted later, from the evidence of theor own records?
Certainly not all of them, only the useless ones. Do we know any of these herein above guys leaving behind any documents that would somehow point on perpetrators? Don't think so. Too bad, Soviets weren't absolute monsters like Nazis to start shooting citizens and burn their villages to find those who are responsible, eh? They waited until those "heroes" would grab the weapons and start "fight for independence" and terrorize unarmed "occupant" population until every single one of them was shot in army raids or self defense.

159:

They do not use approximations and estimations, calculation and manipulation - these are only authentic data available.

Even if we assume that the page you linked to is correct, please detail another European country where 1.6 million of its own citizens died in detention camps for "crimes against the state".

It's interesting (and rather convenient) that it dismisses previous research with statements such as "Motives of the act О.G. Shatunovskaya is not entirely clear: either she deliberately invented these figures for revenge (she was repressed), or she herself became a victim of some kind of disinformation."; and goes on to insist that the Holodomor was "greatly exaggerated".

I also noticed that you didn't address the massacre at Katyn; this was admitted to have been carried out by the NKVD, but many Russian nationalists have since denied that it was a Soviet crime. Do you accept that the NKVD carried out that massacre?


160:

A really good rule of thumb is: when you start writing increasingly-long comments in response to someone else who is doing the same, it's perhaps time to go away for a bit, and ... not post responses.

Nobody is going to win a prize for having the last word.

161:

sr
I asked you to name them, I didn't ask to drag through some YouTube drivel
As for your last repeated evasion, claiming that (effectively) only the "little Nazis got caught ... words fail me, except you are talking bollocks.

Legion is a recruited military body of soldiers, usually at regimental strength.
These days it often refers to people recruited from "Outside" to serve a particular country:
E.G. The King's German Legion approx 1803-16 or the French Foreign Legion
If you mean something else, please say so.

I note that in a n other thread, someone has noted that the delightful Chechns have started a "camp" for homosexuals - how nice - who is going to be next?

SEF @ 160
I'm beginning to agree with you
s-r always evades tha questions, indulges in whataboutery & is in flat denial for Stalin's atrocities ....

162:

to Sean Eric Fagan @160
Oh, I was just warmed up for a long lecture. Anyways, I will try make it shorter.

to Martin @159
Even if we assume that the page you linked to is correct, please detail another European country where 1.6 million of its own citizens died in detention camps for "crimes against the state".
I guess this one will require some elaboration. I found the referenced number in the text, btw.
1. Total population of USSR at the time was around 160-190 millions, which is AT LEAST 2,5 times more than nearest contender - Germany.
2. The list includes all the citizens behind the bars, criminals and saboteurs and innocent alike. There was no difference in ranks and status, race and descent, all population suffered from the repressions equally.
3. The list includes all people perished of all causes in period of 19 years. Including the wartime period.
Of course, we can thoroughly engage into further hair-splitting, but anyway, USSR wasn't exceptional country for it's population suffering in that period.

and goes on to insist that the Holodomor was "greatly exaggerated".
The same researcher does provide the high number for famine victims - it is considerably higher, and is harder to count. It is exaggerated anyway, because people use it as a political argument and the reason to demand contributions. They refuse to admit that most of the USSR suffered from it and refuse to take any responsibility for their actions - it is more convenient to pin it on someone else.

Do you accept that the NKVD carried out that massacre?
For this exact case I do not, for a number of reasons connected to testimony and physical evidence (or lack thereof). Not that there wasn't any other accidents in the chaos of war - but they are not accounted for propaganda purposes.

The idea of capitalist ideology is stemmed from the notion that Communism is a evil cult of absolute destruction. Every death in the USSR, no matter the cause of it, is attributed to the evil cult, since it is all-encompassing system. And for the same reason, Stalin himself, like an evil overlord, sees for all these deeds, because... because .. he is a maniac and the archetype of evil and all that. According to the ideology, he signed all of these death sentences orders by himself, laughing and rubbing his hands.

Well, there's a very simple explanation why the number of people listed in USSR "atrocities" is located within range of 60-80 millions. Two of them, in fact. One is called "Generalplan Ost" (Nazi Germany, 1941), and the other one is "Operation Dropshot"(US, 1957). Both of them, actually, have estimated casualties upon execution at 50 millions minimal. Considering that all of them were not only planned, but actively developed, you can figure out what's what.

163:

To GT @161
And there you continue to oppose all of my attempt to face you with the facts about modern agenda of Nazi Apologist Terrorist Organization. This, I must admit, becomes pretty consistent.

I note that in a n other thread, someone has noted that the delightful Chechns have started a "camp" for homosexuals - how nice - who is going to be next?
"And you lynch gay people", textbook example. Wouldn't even though that somebody would stumble in his own pitfall like that.

By the way, some addition to that. As I noted @136, Putin is not the worst case scenario for both inside of outside post-USSR world. There's a very special person who is ready to lead a glorious nationalistic fervor in this country. He is young, liberal and he appeals to students and schoolboys alike. He is suffering from Putin's regime, he is getting arrested regularly and likes to spend his vacations in foreign countries with his family. He was educated in Yale University, admired by opposition and wears cool sneakers to his protests. He is charismatic, affable, opportunistic and dumb as brick.
I bet you already know them.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/23/opinion/young-liberal-russian.html

164:

WHAT "Nazi apologist terrorist organisation"?
Come on- NAME IT- & where, for that amtter?

I sopke of the Chechens (got the spelling right!) & you ... just don't reply, or rather your reply makes no coherent sense at all to me - if you actually meant something, could you try again, please?

Well, Nemtsov was murdered by Putin's deniable henchemn, but / so / erm / your point?
HOWEVER - I can, maybe, see what you are frightened of - homegrown Russian real fascists
As mentioned in this Indy article
Maybe?

Meanwhile ... "charismatic, affable, opportunistic & dumb as a brick" ... you know Jeremy Corbyn?

165:

Come on- NAME IT- & where, for that amtter?
Oh, I'm sorry, if I start naming them one by one, it will be taking too long.
Luckily for me, there's a common front face for them also known as North Atlantic alliance, which always claimed to be defensive organization and never even tried to defend anyone from anything.

Well, Nemtsov was murdered by Putin's deniable henchemn, but / so / erm / your point?
My point would be, he was killed by invisible space alien laser beams. Because I can't really find any more rational explanation - as for irrational stupidity, there's a dozen and a half.

I can, maybe, see what you are frightened of - homegrown Russian real fascists
No, not really. I am actually frightened that US-supported fascists, supplied, armed and drugged out of their minds, will at some point believe in their absolute invulnerability, and start pouring through our borders from every direction. Because then we will have to murder every single one of them.

you know Jeremy Corbyn?
No, not really. Doesn't seem to dumb for me at the first glance, he has manners.
Maybe it is something to do with your personal experiences?
Does he yell at people from the podium?
Does he stand in a queue in front of US embassy at 4th july?
Are there any American diplomats touring the Britain with him?
I doubt so.

166:

Check the initials ;)

167:

(Acceptance of NKVD responsibility for the Katyn massacre?)
For this exact case I do not, for a number of reasons connected to testimony and physical evidence (or lack thereof).

But...according to State-supported Russian media (Russia Today) President Putin himself stated that the NKVD carried out the killings.

https://www.rt.com/politics/katyn-poloes-massacre/

And Prime Minister Medvedev himself handed over the documentary evidence from Soviet records.

https://www.rt.com/news/katyn-russia-poland-documents/


I am actually frightened that US-supported fascists, supplied, armed and drugged out of their minds, will at some point believe in their absolute invulnerability, and start pouring through our borders from every direction.

???

Sean - you're right, time for me to to stop.

168:

Re Corbyn: Opinions of posters here vary. Greg doesn't like him. Others, including me, do (though I don't consider him remotely "perfect" and I deplore the personality cult that some people are erecting around him).

Re Stalin: He was a cunt of the first water, and I doubt there's anyone here who would disagree.

As it happens, I do agree with your points about the good things he achieved, and I can sort of see a bit why some people might write on a pipe their wish for his return. He did manage to improve the condition of the USSR such that it became able to fight off Nazi Germany (though that doesn't imply that no-one else would have been able to). But it doesn't change my overall opinion, and I think he also did enough damage to the USSR that its eventual collapse owes quite a bit to his legacy.

Lenin might have agreed, I think, since he realised what kind of leader Stalin would make and tried to ensure that he wouldn't get the part (though it didn't work).

It is sometimes said (as a Western anti-Soviet argument) that the Soviet atomic bomb project gained advantage equivalent to four years' worth of research from espionage against the American project. I think that's a bit unfair on Kurchatov and friends. It would be better to say that the advantage gained from espionage simply compensated for the disadvantage of Stalin and his revolting hench-thug Beria holding the project back by their unscientific interference.

Stalin also supported the scientific fraudster Lysenko for unscientific ideological reasons, with consequent long-lasting damage to Soviet agriculture. Agriculture in general seems to have been something Stalin really didn't understand how to deal with, and that as well as his long-term influence on the political elite acted as a canker eating away at the stability of the USSR.

169:

s-r @165
SO you refuse to name EVEN ONE of these multiple cases of obvious fascism in W Europe?
HOW CONVENIENT
Moderators? Sean? HELP!

Nemtsov
No actual answer there, either.

US-supported fascists ....
Oh purrrlease! ??
WHere are they going to come from? WHere is the manpower, logistics & political will going to come from. ANd, if they are drugged out of theor minds, they will all fall down in a couple of days, with no assitance from anyone.
This is paranoia on a Trump/Kim level of insanity.
Ah, MA=artin has also noted it.
I tend to agree with him, you are as mad as TrumpPence

Corbyn
You missed the point entirely
He's acomplete fuckwit, that's the problem.

Pigeon @ 166
Lost you there
Check WHAT set of initials?


171:

Pigoen
Oh dear.
He really is off his head isn't he?
A bit of history - especially relevant since I've just returned form my first visit to Berlin.
The "Warsaw Pact" was founded first, though it was originally much smaller & called something else, following the failure of the communists failed putsch in W Berlin autumn 1948 & the foundation of the "DDR" in March/April 1949.
Thus NATO was a RESPONSE founded 4 / 4 /1949 during the Berlin Airlift.

172:

to Martin @167
But...according to State-supported Russian media (Russia Today) President Putin himself stated that the NKVD carried out the killings.
Oh, I see you've been caught in a trap! Go back and re-read the article - there's no mentioning of NKVD and no references to whoever carried out the executions. Here's the thing: nobody really is denying that about 20 thousands of dead polish officers were exposed in the 1943, nor that many others were killed, and some of them indeed by occupational army. The question is were Katyn was perpetrated by the Germany or by USSR, because it is an major anchoring point of debate of occupation of Poland, aka "who started the war". Pinning it on Germany, indeed, almost impossible, since it is still friends with US, so there' only one option available, and Putin plays it with steady pace.

to GT @169
Nemtsov
"it may be dangerous to be America's enemy, but to be America's friend is fatal." - who said that?

ANd, if they are drugged out of theor minds, they will all fall down in a couple of days, with no assitance from anyone.
Of course, it is their entire purpose. This is what happened 10 years ago, and we are pretty sure it will happen again.

He's acomplete fuckwit, that's the problem.
Well, I guess, that's, like, your opinion, or something.

The "Warsaw Pact" was founded first
Except it has nothing to do with reality, and if it were true, NATO should have been disbanded 25 years ago by delegating it's functions to the UN.

173:

Well, NATO was founded because of two immediate threats - the ongoing Berlin Airlift & the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia ....
You might have a point about NATO winding-down & delegating.
However, you alleged NATO was associted with terrorism & Nazism - really?
I don't see any persecutions of Jews & all the women being forced back into childbreeding churchgoers, nor any open terrorist atrocities, as usually reckoned, either.

And, sorry, but denying that the NKVD carried out the Katyn killings is in the same class as holocaust denial.
Or Armenian denial for that matter.
Not acceptable

174:

to Pigeon @168
He was a cunt of the first water, and I doubt there's anyone here who would disagree.
I disagree. He probably was a cunt at times, but again, in Politburo he was only first among equals. There were plenty of other people around him who, on the lean year, would serve him the same fate. And he is completely overshadowed by his successor aka "corn yap", who desecrated his name and deeds, and then used this scandal to kill off competitors. Not to talk about patronizing transfer of Crimea (for the record, he was Ukrainian and Stalin was Georgian). Not that he was complete cretin, but talk about damage...

though that doesn't imply that no-one else would have been able to
No need for subjunctives - no one else was able to. In 1941's Europe there was only USSR and everybody else.

It would be better to say that the advantage gained from espionage simply compensated for the disadvantage of Stalin and his revolting hench-thug Beria holding the project back by their unscientific interference.
Well, this pretty common excuse employed by anti-USSR propaganda. Makes zero sense for the reasons pretty obvious - to say something like that you need to have no clue about them or their work. Stalin was the major reason why USSR won the war and Beria was the reason why USSR had atomic bomb and a rocket. Kurchatov, of course, was a brilliant scientist, but he created the atomic reactor first (F-1, in 1944), before working for the military. And Beria also curated rocket program well before Korolyov - clearly, "free world" could not tolerate such grievous sins.

Stalin also supported the scientific fraudster Lysenko for unscientific ideological reasons
Again, as with the rest of the general information, the lid has been coming off later years. Lysenko, if anybody cares, was a follower of Michurin's works - you might want to learn about who the guy was. The genetics was still young science and did not, at the time, lead to any serious achievements, so it was natural for government to follow greater results and then ask if they are any good for science. Of course, his ideas lost to the new ambitious trend, but it is not like science is a straight road at all.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Vladimirovich_Michurin
I've also read about the witness that it was the initiative of genetics to win the argument on the conference, because their achievements were below the planned numbers, and since they were overconfident, they've lost the debate at the time.

If agriculture in USSR was this bad, and Lysenko was just a "unscientific" fraudster, that does not explain how USSR was able to survive through war and feed the army, with almost all of the fertile lands lost to occupation. If the USSR was so bad at cybernetics, how it was able to construct automatic probes for Moon?

175:

The question is were Katyn was perpetrated by the Germany or by USSR, because it is an major anchoring point of debate of occupation of Poland, aka "who started the war".

And the answer from history is very clearly "Katyn was perpetrated by the USSR" - and acknowledged by Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, Medvedev.

You also appear to be unaware that the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. Perhaps you might want to look up the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed on 23 August 1939?

Denialism is the refuge of the delusional and the uncultured.

176:

You also appear to be unaware that the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939.

I'm still pissed off at the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. Yes, the Prague Spring was too idealistic to last - but it deserved to die naturally rather than be murdered.

177:

s-r @ 174
Let us get this straight, shall we?
J V Djugashvili ( "Stalin" ) was a paranoid mass-murderer, on a par with Herr Shickelgruber - OK?
For anyone to dispute this questions either their sanity or their honesty or both.
In 1941's Europe there was only USSR and everybody else.
A straight lie.
Until 21st June 1941, the Nazis controlled continental Europe from France to the partition-line in Poland - a Poland divvied up between Adolf & Stalin, as this very famous political cartoon, by David Low indicated.
Even Beria, the arch-torturer & child-rapist was frightened of Stalin - after the first USSR A-bomb test, Beria phoned Stalin to give him the result - & Stalin replied : "Yes, I know"
Your post-Lysenko "arguments" amount to "whataboutery" & the USSR should have done much better, would have done much better without the state-supported Lysenko fraud.

Martin @ 175
Denialism is the refuge of the delusional and the uncultured
You forgot to add: "Deliberate Liar" to that list, because I'm fairly certain he is not "unaware" - that's just a convenient get-out.

I realise that the Moderators are probably letting this run "for fun" - but I don't think this is funny any more.

SS @ 176
One other thing the communists & the fascists have in common - they really HATE the moderate democratic socialists.
[ Hence the momnetum campaign against people like my MP of course .... ]

178:

I kind of guessed you might not be much of a fan of Khrushchev :)

"Not to talk about patronizing transfer of Crimea"

Though I do agree on that one. To be fair, it didn't make a whole lot of difference at the time, as long as the USSR remained the USSR. But it is a shame that the attempt to reverse the mistake as the USSR was collapsing was itself cut short by the collapse and did not succeed. I am in something of a minority position on here in that when the subject of Putin's successful reversal comes up, it is the antagonistic Western reaction to it that I condemn.

"No need for subjunctives..."

Sorry, you've misunderstood me here. I meant that if some other person had been leading the Soviet Union instead of Stalin, that person could also have improved its condition enough that when 1941 came along it was able to fight off the Nazis. Of course, we can't know for certain now.

"Well, this pretty common excuse employed by anti-USSR propaganda."

You've misunderstood here too. The standard anti-USSR propaganda bit is the assertion that the espionage data gained them 4 years; the implication is that the Soviet scientists weren't much good and couldn't make it work without cheating. I don't agree with that at all. Of course it is helpful to be able to incorporate sound data obtained by other people into your own research, which is why all scientists do it. But they would have found it considerably more helpful if - to take one example - Stalin had not compelled them to pursue paths which the data indicated were dead ends because he didn't trust them to be bright enough to spot scientific disinformation. Or if many of them hadn't been terrified to be working on the project at all for fear of what might happen to them if Stalin didn't like the results they found.

As regards how the USSR managed to feed the army during the war - the answers include the Arctic convoys, and a whole lot of very very hungry people who weren't in the army. It did a lot worse than the Western allies. This is a part of the Soviet contribution to the defeat of Nazism which seems to get even less acknowledgement in the West than the military aspects do.

I have no interest in anti-USSR propaganda. There was enough of it during the Cold War and I found a lot of it unconvincing even then once I bothered to start thinking about it, a position now supported by declassified information. But there is an unfortunate tendency both among supporters of the USSR and among its detractors to consider it as a monolithic block of inseparable concepts - a way of thinking that assumes you can't have one aspect of it without having the whole lot - even when thinking in a broader context than merely the historical USSR itself. This contributes to irrational bias against socialistic ideas in the West, and acts as a strong antagonist to any idea that even has some tenuous connection to re-running the experiment. Whereas I think what is important is to learn from it, to identify and separate the things it got right from the things it got wrong, and acknowledge both appropriately to their nature, so that the things it got right can be repeated and the things it got wrong can be avoided.

"If the USSR was so bad at cybernetics, how it was able to construct automatic probes for Moon?"

Uh? Sorry, I don't see how this relates to anything I've said, or anyone else has said. It's also not something I'd wish to argue because I don't think the USSR was "bad at cybernetics". Certainly it lagged on the hardware side, but it had a whole lot of talent in the software and theoretical areas.

179:

I was away, so have only skimmed the comments, but you (and most posters) seem to have some misapprehensions - at a VASTLY better informed level than almost all pundits, to be sure, but still misapprehensions. This isn't my area, but was/is that of a lot of my colleagues (and friends), and I have read some of the research. These are a few of the technical issues.

Books can be signed out to a specific person, securely, using public/private key mechanisms, as you and others have said, but I know of no technical cure for piracy that is not far worse than the disease. Yes, I asked experts. Indeed, one of the main reasons that breaking copyright is regarded as ethical among IT professionals is its gross abuse by many (probably most) of the large copyright holders - including the way that the law has been extended to the point where it blocks a great deal of completely ethical and commonly required use, and is used to block such use! No, I am NOT referring to you, OGH etc.!

An authenticated, non-repudiatable transaction does NOT require each party to identify the other. It is possible to have a multiply-signed contract, each party of which can prove that it is genuine, using public/private key mechanisms. All you need is to be sure that the public key is owned by the contracting party (e.g. supplier or customer), and a complicated handshake. That can even be a nonce key, subject to those conditions. Obviously, those keys have to be tied to the goods or 'money' (as relevant) in some way, as well as the contract.

That can be chained, too, but does NOT necessarily lead to anything like bitcoin. The point of bitcoin is to provide a token with very similar properties to money, which is a much trickier requirement than a simple non-repudiatable transaction.

As far as I know, there is no known method for making any form of trusted third-party mechanism secure against abuse by the TTP - and that includes bitcoin! Subvert more than a certain proportion of bitcoin's servers, and you have pwned bitcoin - there was a panic over that not long ago. This is denied by the promoters of TTP, but is why so many of us in the IT industry don't trust any such mechanisms - e.g. if Kerberos or SSL is the answer, you have asked the wrong question.

180:

It's not simple disaster capitalism. The objectives of the Brexiteers include specific changes. One of which is to return to the glorious days of the 18th century, especially with regard to labour and social laws. But the other is to make us even more subservient to the USA, which will be even more harmful to our economy, environment and more.

181:

to Martin @175
|And the answer from history is very clearly "Katyn was perpetrated by the USSR"
So you did not read the article very well, after all.

Perhaps you would like to look into the whole concept of the time aka Western Betrayal. A whole story . Perhaps the story about poor Poland being victim of two bullies would have been more appealing to the public, if it wasn't participating in occupations at the same time.

|Denialism is the refuge of the delusional and the uncultured.|
So when somebody disagreeing with (possible) USSR responsibility, it is "denialism". But when somebody denies the possibility that Germany was responsible for those officers, it is NOT a denialism, because my hair is a bird.

to Scott Sanford @176
I would rather see you tell an example of Hungarian uprising, because, at least, it happened before Bay of Pigs.
Also, here's the "funny" thing about this article - it lists soviet casualties (110 killed, 90 wounded) from the military as "accidents". Apparently, accidents like armed people shooting over the heads of people on streets. Accidents like tanks burned on the streets. Or like armed night raids of the roadblocks.

to GT @177
"One other thing the communists & the fascists have in common - they really HATE the moderate democratic socialists."
Yeah, OK, let me get it straight with "democratic socialists". A. Shickelgruber was a democratic socialist, before we turned his political career into blood orgy. Social Revolutionaries in 1917 Russian Empire were democratic socialists, before they toppled the Tsarist regime. NATO is chock full of democratic socialists, which would like to plunder the s*** out of both China and Russia, if it wasn't for the immediate fatal consequences. There's so much space between "democracy" and "socialism" that you can fit the whole parliament between them and still get away with (political equivalent) of arson, murder and robbery.

"For anyone to dispute this questions either their sanity or their honesty or both."
"Deliberate Liar"
I do not recognize any rabid anticommunists as honest or sane in the first place, but as for lies, I am not really bothered. Because to lie, you have to be aware of the truth. The main property of propaganda is that it makes everything else is irrelevant, because to be successful in it you need to repeat the same thing over and over again, no matter how little sense it makes, until you and everybody around you will accept it as the only and unquestionable truth. It is a based on psychomotoric agitation, not rational reasoning.

182:

Looked at "Source" for Bitcoin energy consumption. Holy crap.

183:

"as long as the USSR remained the USSR"
Admittedly, no matter how much I despise most of his actions during his "presidency", at least he wasn't content with destroying his own domain. One can list a dozen of similar moves by Stalin, like including Russian territories in Eastern Ukraine or putting Abkhazia or S. Osetia into Georgian SSR. These decisions had more of economic and less political meaning, and could not possibly foresee a civil war 50+ years in advance.

"if some other person had been leading the Soviet Union instead of Stalin"
Erm, there's a reason why the debate about role of a personality in history still exists, but it seems to be unrelated to the case. I fail to see any alternatives - if somebody wouldn't make same errors as he, it is unknown how many other errors would be made.

"But they would have found it considerably more helpful if - to take one example - Stalin had not compelled them to pursue paths which the data indicated were dead ends because he didn't trust them to be bright enough to spot scientific disinformation."
Sorry, this is where I should solidly disagree. There might be ideological reasons why that would happen, but the thing is, there's simply no evidence that Stalin would somehow interfere in the process of scientific development itself. His functions were purely administrative. The idea that subordinates would somehow succeed despite incompetence of their leader, is in complete contradiction with the notion of this leader's complete control of the process. So, the conflict between geneticists and selectionists illustrates amount of freedom within scientific community - if the party would be in complete control, the idea itself would not have survived to cause dissent.

That said, it wasn't just a random remark that Lysenko was important in fighting the war and famine. Land Lease was providing, at various estimates, between 5 and 10% of food manufactured in the country, and without advance of agriculture and biology, the loss of 40+% of most valuable land that would mean assured death of tens of millions. In this situation agricultural work was declared vital for the survival, so no wonder Vavliov got a lot of rebuttal for his experiments with some flies in dishes.
https://coollib.net/b/407649/read
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernalization
Some people slander him that he received his medals because he appealed to Stalin and ideology, that he was a pseudo-scientist and schemer. This idea is beyond insulting not only for his person, but for whole scientific community of USSR - and thus, regularly used by anticommunists. Maybe he was an oddball and huge windbag later in his career (that would explain why he wasn't kicked out until 1964, IYKWIM), but at least he wasn't advocating racial theories.

Sorry, I don't see how this relates to anything I've said, or anyone else has said.
Well, just to elaborate - it does relate to other similar talks about the science in USSR.

184:

s-r
A. Shickelgruber was a democratic socialist, before we turned his political career into blood orgy.
Liar, & no. Shickelgruber USED the label "socialist" in the same way that the DPRK uses the label "democratic" ( IF you had mentioned Röhm, you might have had half a point, but you didn't )
It was very noticeable that the FIRST peole into the camps were the democratic socialists - which is why a lot of them survived, as many of them were turfed=out, after suitable chastsiement & terrorising.

No lysenko was a lying crawler of the first water.
Perhaps I should mention the fate of Nikolai Vavilov, a proper plany biologist, murdered because he opposed Lysenko & therefore Stalin.

185:

Perhaps you would like to look into the whole concept of the time aka Western Betrayal.

I'm well aware of it; the only defence of those involved is that they were desperate to avoid a war and to work within the League of Nations, having seen first-hand the horrors of 1914-1918. Anything, they felt, was better than another war; and they were wrong. The lesson that came from this in UK politics, is that "appeasement of tyrants does not work" - and has led to several over-reactions in our foreign policy since then. The 1938 film of Chamberlain promising "peace in our time" after Munich, is iconic in our modern history.

It is, however, a distraction. Britain and France's willingness to ignore the reoccupation of the Rhineland, or to insist that Czechoslovakia hand over the Sudetenland, or Poland's lack of democracy, is irrelevant to your denial of the USSR's responsibility for Katyn:

Namely, that the NKVD, after a proposal by Beria, acting under the direct order of the Politburo, in a directive signed by Stalin, murdered over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war. That the NKVD had been murdering Poles since at least 1937. That the USSR decided to cooperate with Hitler by invading Poland in 1939; and then to go on and invade Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1940...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasily_Blokhin

186:

Apparently I have to keep saying it: stop it with the personal attacks.

187:

Real democratic opposition
Navalny
No, seriously, say, is it because he is "real" opposition, or because US State Department said that?
Are you sure he did not parrot things like "Russia for Russians" or "we are the authority here"? Are you sure he did not go hand in hand in famous Russian nationalists? With famous Ukrainian nationalists? These are very important questions. And I am very suspicious that too many people don't know his character.

Your take on the grand conspiracy here pre-1939 is the stuff of ravings - gor ANY EVIDENCE for it?
Why, it is pretty easy to explain. Documents that were transferred to the Poland side, are all real documents that describe circumstances of arrested and detained polish officers. The links that are provided, without much commentary, are still available online (uh, it seems, they are not available now on Russian site, maybe Poland did publish them? No?).

However, documents that are directly related to the orders of the massacre, are presented in separate packet and never referenced in the major bulk of documents (they are fucking secret, aren't they?). Moreover, these documents, the original list of them presented as "evidence of massacre" aren't containing any links to the documents provided to Poland in 2010. You would imagine there would be other documents that would link the real part with the criminal part, but they are yet to be found and transfered. The reasons why they are still not published or declassified is probably related to the Poland stance towards Russia since 00s. It is a very polite form of diplomacy.

And, in fact, many experts deemed the documents released in the last years of USSR as hopelessly bad fakes, but I guess, this is beside my point.
Or maybe not. Ouch.
https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/katyn-massacre-case-thrown-out-by-human-rights-court-28770

Well, really, the reason I answered to Martin is that I am really suspicious of falsifications - especially those which appear out of nowhere. You see, in this world information does not appear and disappear just like that. There's always consequences.

188:

Okay, rgr that. I ask you to excuse my bravado, if anything. When I was a student, I used to spend a lot of time arguing with people about those things, and it comes with persistence that at times annoys even me myself. I should probably spend more time and write something more useful in general rather than just arguing over points that start to seem moot even for me.

189:

And, in fact, many experts deemed the documents released in the last years of USSR as hopelessly bad fakes, but I guess, this is beside my point.

...and yet there are still people who declare that the Holocaust was exaggerated / invented; which is probably why I find it difficult to leave this subject. We must not blind ourselves to history on grounds of Nationalism, whether that be the GULAG or Katyn or Purges, or the British concentration camps of the Boer War.

Meanwhile, the USSR's responsibility for the murder of over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war has been admitted by Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, Medvedev, the Duma, and the Russian State Archives. It's verified by multiple Soviet and Russian historians over the last fifty years, and by official documentation.

190:

As a rule, if you can't think of what your nation (cause/side/team/hat preference) did and does wrong, you've wandered off into a mistaken idea of victory.

I could wish this was more widely taught.

191:

We must not blind ourselves to history on grounds of Nationalism, whether that be the GULAG or Katyn or Purges, or the British concentration camps of the Boer War.
Many people are worried that liberal apologetics want to pin responsibility for the WW2 to USSR, who suffered the most damage and did the most job to put this conflict to end. It is forbidden by the law to deny Holocaust, but there is no universal law which would somehow protect the rights and dignity for people who not only suffered, but actually managed to do something useful. In fact, there are countries that forbid USSR symbols, history and heritage, because they now say there was "occupation" and they were "robbed", or something along the lines.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bans_on_Communist_symbols
And it is easy to notice that these countries where scores of people were killed just for being "communists" (yes, even Indonesia).

Meanwhile, the USSR's responsibility for the murder of over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war has been admitted by Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, Medvedev, the Duma, and the Russian State Archives.
Sigh... I see again you did not read your sources well enough, or you see no difference between certain categories. As Graydon pointed out, there's a thing called "plausible deniability", and since the published documents point out exclusively to Stalin and his closest peers, it means that they bear all responsibility by themselves and the rest of the people of USSR are not guilty. This is what these people admit (and as I noted above, I am not in approval to that).

And if it wasn't enough, Poland itself, apparently, at some point gave up to shake Russia for cash and turned towards Germany for that:
https://www.history.com/news/poland-wwii-reparations-germany

192:

NO the responsibility for WWII was entirely Adolf's.
At the same time or post 1945 the USSR DID occupy many countries & sent many people to the Gulag or their deaths.

And you are denying BOTH of those truths.

WHY?

193:

No, it was not. The victorious powers in WWI were also responsible, by imposing the Treaty of Versailles and setting up the conditions for Hitler to reach power. That mistake was not made after WWII, and you can observe the difference.

Also, he is not denying those truths significantly more than you and Martin are denying the truths that the UK (i.e. the government) was responsible for Bloody Sunday, torture in Iraq and elsewhere, the deaths of tens (probably hundreds) of thousands and the misery of millions in the Middle East, and the pogrom in Yemen. All of those were predicted consequences of our actions, all came to pass, but you two claim that the UK was sweetly innocent and it was it was just a few bad apples, or it wasn't us, really, even though we were/are an active part of the enterprise. Well, bollocks to that.

If you blame the USSR and not Stalin, then damn well blame Germany and not Hitler. I don't care which, but stop being hypocritical.

If I had to judge, I would say that Hitler (or WWII Germany) was more evil than Stalin (or the USSR), though I agree that it's a choice of foulnesses. In THAT respect.

194:

All of those were predicted consequences of our actions, all came to pass, but you two claim that the UK was sweetly innocent and it was it was just a few bad apples, or it wasn't us, really,...

Really? Link to a post where I've said that. As a suggestion, please do search through the site archives for the words "Baha Mousa" or "Bloody Sunday".

I'll be the first to admit that some of the actions of the British in Iraq were shameful for the nation - for instance, the murder of Baha Mousa, and the disgusting treatment of some prisoners at the time. Direction from government failed, oversight failed, training failed, and individuals stepped through those failures to commit crimes for which they have not been punished adequately.

Or perhaps Bloody Sunday - I'm the one who has put in links to the Savile Inquiry (or the Stockwell Inquiry, for that matter); and again, have declared that I look on those deaths as the murder of innocents, plain and simple. I might point out that the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment behaved completely differently from the other battalions on the ground that day; that their CO disobeyed a clear order from the Brigade Commander; and that just one of their Support Company sections was responsible for almost half of those murders. But that's no excuse.

Let me make it perfectly clear - I'm not going to indulge in "whataboutery" to excuse those soldiers. They should have been prosecuted (as was Lee Clegg, or Alexander Blackman), and served their full sentence. And their individual responsibility doesn't detract from the reality that on that day, the British Army became the IRA's most effective recruitment tool. That the British Government, in the form of Widgery, proved to the Nationalist community that it could not be trusted.

I can understand how the situation started (Military Aid to the Civil Power being required to control Unionist mobs who were burning Catholic houses), developed (a bigoted Stormont leadership choosing to focus on "stamping out the IRA" and pandering to their extremist supporters, rather than accepting that NICRA were a valid civil rights movement), failed (internment without trial? over-use of lethal force?), and recovered (a focus on police primacy and the rule of law). But I don't deny truth.

And when it comes to discussing the USSR's responsibility for Katyn, damn right I blame Germany and not just Hitler. The SS weren't the only German soldiers committing atrocities, they weren't the Germans knowingly and happily accepting slave labour on their farms and in their factories, they weren't the Germans willingly smashing windows on Kristallnacht and informing on their neighbours to the Gestapo. The White Rose were few and far between.

Don't think that I believe Britain was free of bigotry - Mosley had tens of thousands of followers, while Rothermere was busy praising the Blackshirts through the Daily Mail right up until 1939. Meanwhile, the 1930s SNP were little different from other Nationalist movements of the time - their bigotry just focused on Roman Catholics rather than Jews.

Yes, Hitler and Stalin bear the ultimate responsibility - but their eager supporters existed in the millions, and we have largely accepted that the Nuremberg Defence ("I was only following orders") doesn't really hold water. Katyn was carried out in the name of the USSR, just as Oradour-sur-Glane / Lidice was carried out in the name of Germany, My Lai in the name of the USA, or Amritsar in the name of the British Empire.

So when I find it worrying that people deny or excuse crimes, presumably because they refuse to admit that "their side" did wrong, please don't suggest that it's because I'm a hypocrite.

195:

Thanks to EC, at lest that saves me time to explain very basic things in my consideration. However, it is far from being sufficient to elaborate my logic.

to Martin
"Katyn was carried out in the name of the USSR, just as Oradour-sur-Glane / Lidice was carried out in the name of Germany, My Lai in the name of the USA, or Amritsar in the name of the British Empire."
Killing isn't childs play, it is either more complex or more simple than that. This is why I oppose this view, because it is an infantile bullshit that does not have any rational reasons behind it. Here's several factors that are opposing arguments like "in the name of", when it comes to the reality.

  • To the people of USSR enemies (who were drafted from all over the Europe to fight on Eastern front) were the same humans as them, only their psychology is perverted by imperialistic and dehumanizing behavior of the Nazis, and no matter how powerful the propaganda was, it would be impossible to think that people would start to kill innocent people on their own volition en masse (that said, there were accidents where they did exactly that - they were executed by tribunal for war crimes).
  • People of USSR were never as bloodthirsty, barbaric or undisciplined as the enemies describe them, because an army does not survive the combat if it spends it's time doing things that only satisfy lowest impulses - massacring the POWs and civilians, looting and destroying cities, ignoring orders and not looking out for elementary hygiene. Most of the soldiers just wanted to end this war and go back to their peaceful life - even the desire to pay back had do give its way to the ultimate purpose.
  • A most common excuse for the victory of USSR over "disciplined" and "educated" army was that there were too many of Red Army and too few of Germans. Which is never farther from the truth, because one can never underestimate the meaning of morale, experience and discipline in the war. Commanders of USSR were ruthless to their subordinates and there was no shortage of punishment, because in total war, not even most stoic human dignity can hold for long. If they weren't, the war would be lost as fast as Germany had planned.
  • Critics of USSR manage to present both victims of crimes and the criminals as victims of "regime". They completely ignore these factors when explaining the crimes of military time. They often confuse the simplest facts and principles and have little awareness they can advocate the most dehumanizing Nazi propaganda. Only a person who has no regards to those who perish in the war, can employ such reasoning.

    That said, most of this talk is beside the point. History rewriting and facts manipulation is a thing because it covers sins quite more modern and important. I constantly link them in this discussion, but you ignore the facts and prefer to roll back at your initial claims, as if they are set in stone. I am perfectly aware of the reasons for such behavior - stubbornness, laziness of mind, the desire for false ideals and easy moral superiority (most of the time it is, as you note, not an individual but a collective desire that is expressed on regular basis in everyday life). I know about psychology of people who oppose the hard truth represented by and can apologize most heinous plans out of pure ignorance.

    After all, I've grown up with the people like that arguing around me, advocating even wildest fantasies of Nazi misanthropy. Such people(they call themselves "liberals" and "pro-western"), have been advocating the ideas of worst times of German propaganda. For example, thy say, people of USSR are responsible for the atrocities performed by Nazis, because they angered them and forced them to retaliate. They say that it was probably better to surrender the Siege of Leningrad because that would save human lives. They say that it would be better if Germany would win the war because it would bring European civilization to decadent Russia. Yes, these people call themselves "civilized" and "human rights activists". Even if you call out to them and prove that they believe in lies, the answer would be "yeah, well, these details may be distorted and misquoted by the a bit by us, but in general sense, we are still right!".

    Still, I am pretty sure, all of my calls to rationality and expression of years worth of exasperation in our society, are going to fall on deaf ears. After all, it is Wikipedia - the most readily available source of information - one can read the things easily interpreted as "communists killed 100 millions":
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_killings_under_communist_regimes#Estimates

    196:

    couple of self fixes:

    hard truth represented by
    soviet historians

    misquoted by the a bit by us
    misquoted a bit by us

    197:

    EC @ 193
    Oh not that tired old wrong excuse about “Unfair” Versailles again.
    Seen the proposed conditions Imperial Germany was going to set if they had won - & what they did do at Brest-Litovsk?
    You must have missed the bits where I condemned Hitler, like the very post you are replying to.
    PLEASE – stop it? SEE ALSO Martin @ 194

    P.S. Some years ago, I was on a bus in London with some German visitors, going past the end of Ridley Road – so I told them that that was were one of the internal street-fights took place with the Nazis ( Moseley’s blackshirts ) - & they said:
    “What were Nazis doing here?”
    Me: Oh, not your Nazis, our Nazis …
    Them:” You had them too, how did you escape?”
    Me: “We got lucky”
    Everyone looked at everyone else & we changed the subject ….

    198:

    While I'm not going to say "teh blockchainz is teh answer!!!," blockchain technology is reasonably likely to be part of the solution. There are some unfortunate misconceptions about blockchain technology in the first comment here that I'd like to correct.

    First, "blockchain" is not Bitcoin, or even cryptocurrency. It's (as many of you probably already know) a simple technique for creating an independently verifiable ledger. Here's how it works:

    1. You start with a "genesis block" of arbitrary size containing your data of choice and a method of taking a hash of the block it's is extremely hard to fake: that is, it's very, very difficult (in practice, impossible) to create a block with different data that would have the same hash. This hash is your block identifier.

    2. You then create subsequent blocks (not necessarily of the same size) with further data that include at least the hash of the the "parent" block. This creates a chain (or in some cases a directed graph) such that if you have a given block you can retrieve any or all of all the alleged previous blocks from an untrusted source and verify that they are indeed ones that existed before given block and are the ones referenced by the given block.

    That's about it. If this sounds familiar from other applications it's because it's indeed a technique that's been widely available for decades and has been the core of some widely-used public systems. Probably the largest and most widely used blockchain application today is Git; blockchain is one of the core technologies used with Git without which it wouldn't function.

    The massive computational requirements (and thus electricity usage) of Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies is unfortunate, but that's in no way a requirement for blockchain or even cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and others use a proof of work system to achieve consensus, but that's just how they happened to be implemented from one of a number of alternatives. The problems (not limited to just electricity usage) with proof of work are well known and these days new systems that need distributed consensus amongst untrusted peers are likely to use a different and much cheaper consensus method such as proof of stake.

    Many systems don't even need distributed consensus (at least, not distributed to the degree that Bitcoin does it). Git, again, is a good example: we have a social system for achieving consensus on the head block of the Linux kernel that works quite well. The system proposed in this blog post, if blockchain were involved, might well use multiple ledgers where various individuals and organizations would be determining themselves what the current head block is with distributed consensus being unnecessary. (There might of course be other parts of the system where a shared ledger with distributed consensus would be valuable.)

    In short: blockchain ain't Bitcoin, it's already widely used (and more widely used) outside of the cryptocurrency field than in it, and please stop conflating blockchain with a bunch of other things it happens to be put together with in one particular application.

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