NSA Scandal and Edward Snowden

A forgotten quote from the founding father of USA's constitution.

A forgotten quote from the founding father of USA’s constitution.

I am sad to say but I am losing trust in Obama and his administration due to the recent NSA scandal. Being an ex-hacker I have always been concerned about my privacy and there was a time when I used to communicate with my online peers only through IRC and Skype. Skype was the best IM available since it not only encrypted every messages but the executable itself was encrypted providing best stealth from all kinds of honeypots, etc. attacks.

But sadly after Microsoft acquired Skype, this is no longer the case. One of the architects of the once-heavily-encrypted-protocol called Skype revealed that Skype has moved from the peer-to-peer architect (which in fact provided the security from wiretapping) to a server based architect. Unfortunately, this means all messages can now be aggregated and logged, etc. It is difficult to say why Microsoft went this route. Was it because to comply with US government’s demand or was it a business strategy to move from peer-to-peer model to server based model so that they can provide more robust uptime through state-of-art hardware rather than depending on some guy from Ukraine or Poland with a PC that acted as a supernode for the Skype?!

It is very sad to see what George Orwell predicted in his novel 1984, would become a reality in my own lifetime. Even if I did imagine this was a possibility, I always had a communist backed government in my mind. And not a freaking democratic government like USA! Honestly, after reading that US government has declared Edward Snowden as a traitor and a spy, I am bewildered at the irony – USA charging Snowden with espionage charge while they were themselves spying on Americans and other countries all this while without anyone knowing. How is this difference from what China has been doing to its people?

There was once a time when America used to the first one to offer asylum to such revolutionists, activists, whistleblowers and oppressed people from other countries. Now Snowden has to seek asylum in other countries for trying to do the right thing – telling the truth about how our human liberty is being held at stake in the name of stopping terrorism.

Harry Potter fans knows how this goes...

Harry Potter fans knows how this goes…

I have seen some people arguing that they don’t mind if their government is tracking their activity or phones or emails – they are not doing anything wrong so they don’t have anything to worry about. But that argument is so flawed that it needs to be explained.

If you have actually read what Communism is and all its aspect, you will find yourself actually appreciating the idea, albeit, on paper. The fundamental problem with Communism is the concentration of power in the hands of few – in this case – government. It will just take a small group of people to corrupt and devastate the entire country because of the power they can hold. Now a very similar concentration of power is showing up through this NSA scandal in US. How long do you think it will take someone to corrupt himself or herself and abuse this vast amount of data that they have out there?

Did you know that Hitler did not become a dictator overnight?! He legitimately rose up the power through his political party and made sure that when he exercises his dictatorial powers, he does it legally. And then everyone knows how he segregated his own countrymen into a master and slave race and various other such classifications. I am not saying this is what is going to happen again. All I am saying is that the ingredients for such a recipe is out there. What if an elite fanatic goes absolute batshit insane and decides in order to stop terrorism some group of people needs to be eliminated or quarantined?

I am just so glad that Hong Kong let Snowden leave the country when USA demanded Hong Kong to extradite Snowden for the espionage charges. HK government cited that USA did not follow the legal process completely and as such they have no reason to stop Snowden from leaving the country.

Since the documents provided by the US government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the US government to provide additional information … As the HKSAR government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

Snowden is now seeking asylum in Eucador and I am glad to read such a statement coming from Eucador’s foreign minister –

Eucador’s FM Patino stressed that the Ecuadorian government puts human rights above any other party’s interests. Patino also said it is “paradoxical” the person who revealed alleged rights violations is being “persecuted.”

“It should be asked, who betrayed whom,” Patino stressed as he questioned the correctness of calling Snowden’s leak a “treason.”

“Is this betraying the citizens of the world, or betraying some elites that are in power in a certain country?” the Minister asked.”

I do wish the world knows that giving up your liberty or sovereignty just for the sake of stopping terrorism does not make any sense at any level. The erosion of civil liberties is something to be guarded against not because of the perception of an immediate threat, but because you won’t recognize the value of those liberties until you have been deprived of them and discover you have no recourse.

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The Red Wedding – Game of Thrones

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Something happened last night. I am in a shock. Shock from watching the episode S03E09 “The Red Wedding” from Game Of Thrones. Distraught, disgusted and probably devastated.

My reaction was similar to what Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) experienced when he saw “The greatest magic trick ever“.

A lot of people cry about the insane shock values some films and TV shows portray, but this is different. Have you ever said to yourself while watching an intense drama/action/fight/horror scene like – meh, the hero is not going to die no matter what! Well, this episode will just make you question everything in your life – Why? why did I even? What just happ..? How can he jus..? My life is suddenly hollow…

Having watched thousands of movies and TV shows so far in my life, I can almost predict the twists in the plots. But this episode was a complete mindfuck….so much that I am still in my bed whereas I should have been in my office right now. And I am not exaggerating.

How can they all die? He was the goddamn king of The North. The only one that I felt can kill the Lannisters and the White Walkers. Whhhyyyyyyyyyyy?

Nevermind the real life civil protests currently happening in Istanbul. The Red Wedding is far more gruesome & intense. This what George Martin (author of the book on which the TV show is based) does to you. The emotional investment in his fantasy world of Westeros seems greater than the real world of ours where a government is oppressing its citizens and a hurricane is causing devastation in another corner of the world. Like I said before, my life seems hollow right now.

I think I should get ready for the office now. When a fictional story affects you so much – does it mean that it is the most beautiful piece of literature or just that I am escaping too much into the fantasy world neglecting the real life problems of our own world? I…..dont……know ¯\(°_o)/¯

Also, today I learned, this was the chapter that sold the idea to adapt the book into a TV show. HBO and the producers decided to make the show so that they can film his particular episode! And each episode has a 6 million dollar budget! Amazing.

Here are some of the reaction videos captured by people who had read the book and knew about the red wedding but others didn’t. My best reaction is from a twitter post that went something like this – “Remember when your really really nerdy friend was depressed 13 years ago? Well, watch the red wedding episode and you will know why.” I think that sums up. If a 60 minute episode can affect me so much than you can only imagine the minute details the whole chapter must have describing everything in detail.

If you haven’t seen this show, then I would suggest you start or read the book.