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The Liberty Lamp: Libertarian News & Editorials

A blog dedicated to the advancement of libertarian principles, and to the protection of activist groups' privacy and Constitutional rights. Topics include discussions on privacy tips, current events, political topics, and bulletins on how to get involved in various pro-liberty activities.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Famous Libertarians

Don't think libertarianism is cool? Well it is! Many famous actors, politicians, and writers are libertarian supporters. A few names include Russell Crow, Drew Carrey, Clint Eastwood, and Dave Barry. Check out the celebrity lineup at the Advocates for Self Government page linked to above. And, of course, don't forget to take the World's Smallest Political Quiz!

Also, check out what some mebers of the popular media have to say about it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

US Conservatives at About.com

Today, I'd like to share with you a useful resource for libertarian and general conservative thought. About.com's US Conservatives directory, maintained by Mr. Ryan Woodhams. He has some excelent commentary pieces and reviews of the issues, plus a whole lot of good, well organized links, categorized by topic. Click the title of this posting to be taken to the website.

Kyrgystan Kicks Gluteus Maximus!

For those who are still uninformed, the small, former Soviet satelite state of Kyrgyzstan (centeral Asia) has erupted in a popular, yet mostly peaceful revolution. Like many Americans, the Kyrgystanis have a long history of independent frontier self-reliance and self-determination ingrained into their culture and identity. Thus, after over fifteen years of dysfunctionality, the people have become fed up and have forced President Akayev out of office and the country. Currently, he is hiding out w/ Comrade Vladamir somewhere in Russia.

Though Mr. Akayev and the population (including many law enforcers and bureaucrats) are at odds, an effective yet peaceful "show of force" was able to remove him and other corrupt officials without bloodshed. Negotations between the former President and the newly formed parliament.

What are my thoughts on this? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is, "You jerks stole my idea!" Its true. Except my version didn't involve as much protesting and such beforehand. However, it's probably a good idea, if for no other reason that afterwards no one can accuse you of "jumping the gun" (a pun of sorts, I know).

If some almost unheard of republic in centeral asia can do this, there are no excuses why the same can't be done in America. Just some food for thought...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Today's News- Good & Bad Times

Today the Ma$$ Media has brought us some interesting news headlines, both good and bad. In the tradition of hope and good taste, let us begin with the good news first.

Good News

According to CNN, the GAO, or Government Accounting Office (don't worry I can't say that with a straight face either) has released their report on Homeland Security's latest rendition of privacy-molesting "security screening" technology. I'm glad at least some people in the federal government think twice about biometrics. Please write to the GAO and tell them what a great job they're doing, and encourage them to do more of this!

Some other good news is that "Voodoo Child" by Jimmi Hendrix is the greatest song ever! Seriously though, while that may be true for me, I doubt many of you readers care. What you will probably care about, though, is that all resources of the Phoenix of Light Network are now available via secure SSL 256 bit AES/SHA encryption. You can use this for accessing any part of the site, but the most logical use for secure connections is for posting in the forums. Please make use of this resource. It's costing me extra hosting fees, so make it worthwhile for me! To access anything via SSL, just use https:// instead of http://.

Not-So-Good News

Some ISPs are now spying on their own users to fight 'Net attacks. This is somewhat reminiscent of when my ISP blocked TCP:80 outbound following the Code Red worm five years ago or so. As annoying as that was (I had a personal webserver at the time), at least they weren't spying on and reporting me to each other and/or "the authorities", whoever they might be. The best part of this article is near the end, where an interviewee says, quote "He said that although informal systems exist to pass on information about attacks, often commercial confidentiality got in the way of sharing enough information to properly combat attacks."

What? Oh boo hoo. I'm so sorry that consumer privacy was such a hindrance to your work. To make it easier, would you like my DOB, SS#, credit history, and first born son as compensation? Seriously. Some people just need to get a real day job and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

In other news, famous rapper "Masta P" (Percy Miller) and his brother, "Silkk the Shocker" (Vyshonn Miller) might be closet libertarians, at least as far as the UC Campus Police are concerned. Apparently, they are charged with possession of unregistered sidearms. The argument about whether or not firearms should be registered aside, the duo apparently did not have them on their persons but rather hidden under their car seats, meaning that the police must have made an illegal search and seizure, no? The incident occurred in January, and both are facing trial this month.

Although it was probably stupid to carelessly hide loaded handguns under their seats for obvious safety reasons, the criminal charges don't hold any Constitutional water, especially if you consider that they: A. did not have the arms on them at the University, and B. the University is... public! That's right. It's a California state school of higher learning. Yes, I do know about all the "exceptions" such schools have (I found out first hand in secondary school, but not with arms or anything like that), but that doesn't make their existence legitimate.

Personally, I hate rap as much as the next person, but damn. It's not like either has a mile-long rap sheet, though I'm sure they'd be the last to admit their lack of "hardness". Additionally, Masta P was threatened by some crazed fan in 2003. If that doesn't make you want to have a gun with you most of the time, I don't know what would!

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Computer Cryptography How-To

We now have a concise but very useful "how-to" guide for visitors on the subject of digital encryption. Today, cyberspace and the physical world is more filled with would-be spies and snoopers than ever before, as a result of technological and paranoyal advancement. To protect your own personal privacy, and that of others, scrambling your data with encryption can prevent others from viewing your data, whether it be images, text documents, or anything else. For activists and agitators, this is even more of a must- warding off the "G-Men" could be the make-or-break of any successful campaign or operation!

Soon, Phoenix of Light will have another how-to available, pertaining to Internet anonymity. Covered subjects will include e-mail privacy, anonymous Web browsing, and using secure communications connections as often as possible. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

New Blog Team Member

Please give a nice big round of applause for our newest blog member, heroinaddikt, aka "Anarchist Superstar". Sounds almost spiritual, or at least theatrical, doesn't it? He's also a coadmin of the forums.

If you would like to join the team, please send an e-mail to webmaster@phoenixoflight.org, and we'll get back to you promptly.

How Much Is Enough?

In a short time, the United States Senate will take up and most likely pass what were HR418 and HR1268, pertaining to yet another gross expenditures increase and a national ID card, respectively. If you value your own privacy/liberty and that of your loved ones, I highly suggest that you visit our good friends at DownsizeDC.org and petition against it. The DownsizeDC website is easy to use, and it will automatically find your appropriate representatives and send your comments to them automatically, based on your ZIP code. Its so easy, even I can do it :).

These House Resolutions are not isolated incidents, or even honest mistakes, but a deliberate and intentional long-term process. How else are the developments of USAPATRIOT Act, the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act" of 2003 (Basically the rumored "PATRIOTII", for all intents and purposes but not entirely), and other such BS Bills explained? I'm not typically one for conspiracy theories, but the alternative explainations are running out almost as fast as currency from the US Treasury!

That said, I would like to post the following question: How much is too much? How much longer will you submit to this (pardon my French) "legislative corn-holeing"? I know I don't, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Where should the line be drawn, and when it's crossed, what is to be done? To paraphrase a certain famous parapalegic of the 20th century, one of the biggest things we have to fear is fear itself. I wouldn't go as far as saying that fear is the only issue, though. The other two legs of this "tripod of doom" are ignorance and sloth. No, not "sloth" the animal, but laziness. The former are cool, but the later are doubtlessly a large part of what's wrong with America these days. If you don't believe me, just pay a visit to the nearest zoo and you'll see what I mean.

As Lord Byron once said, all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men/women/whatevers to do nothing. And that's exactly what has been happening, more and more frequently over the years, especially during the last five to ten. That's how the President and Congress are able to pass cryptic and hidden legislation in the wee hours of the morning. Our "elected officials" and popular culture have tried to convince us that simply passing this or that law will magically make all our problems go away. But is this really the case? The truth instead seems to be that, as state and federal governments get bigger and more powerful, the less they take stock in and obey the law.

Are you seeing the problem yet? As a result of its gargantuan size and scope, governments, especially the Federal have become at once judge jury and executioner of their own trials. Unlike in trials involving you and me, a trial by one's peers is exactly what we don't need when it comes to such bodies. It's time for the grand jurry of America's people to wake up and sentance our dysfunctional, self-serving, and self-propagating political establishment to at least life in prison, if not death.

What concrete implications would the above metaphoric motions have on American politics? Simply put, we have the right, in fact the duty to reform (imprison) our current system and weed out the bad apples while retaining the good ones. Should this fail, either out of complication or bureaucratic resistance, it will then be time to proceed to the "death penalty" phase- replacing it with something else entirely! I hope, and rather expect the more peaceful methods to work out on their own, but as Americans, we need to begin to start getting prepared, just in case things "get ugly", as it were.

I've spoken to various people about these very things, and the response is rather mixed. The signals I typically recieve are usually supportive, to one degree or another, but the whole concept of "at-home regime change" is aparently taboo in this nation today. Everyone has a stake in it, and I'd venture that most people want it, yet only a brave few are willing to honestly articulate these sentiments on any significant level. The reasons for this are many, and will be discussed in another posting. For now, stay tuned and get active. Those who are about to change salute you!

~The Phoenix

Website Fix

Though its after 2AM in the morning, PoLweb is now fixed. There were some minor problems with a few broken links, and whatnot. If you're using Mozilla Firefox (as you should be!), you'll probably notice that the table borders now have rounded corners rather than the boring right-angle ones you usually see on other sites. Unfortunately, those of you using Internet Exploiter won't be able to see this feature- but you will get colored borders at least.

Also of note is an update to our website content licensing: From now on, all original tech related content, such as computer how-to guides, etc. will be released under the GNU Free Document License. Everything else, including this news blog, is now governed by the Creative Commons License, which permits copying and derivative works, so long as such copies or works aren't used for profit, and that they remain similarly licensed. The GNU FDL is similar, but different in some critical ways. Check out both above links for an overview and the legal guts of both.

Stay tuned for an editorial of sorts soon... Probably later today but don't quote me on it ;)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Fight Back Against "Pork" & Hidden Provisions!

Yesterday, The House approved a bill today that appropriates money for some really stupid stuff, in addition to SE Asia tsunami and Darfur genocide relief (which is good). Amongst other things, though, it pumps more $ into build a freakin' stadium in DC, random "donations" to foreign countries for unclear reasons, and other such things. Once again, no one read the bill, and there's some major pork in it. However, there is some good that's come out of this.

For the last month (though it would have been nice for them to let me KNOW about it), DownsizeDC.org launched a campaign to defeat HR.418. Though it was not ultimately successful in stalling the said legislation, it did forment changes to the bill, and has led to a full national campaign to force Congress (and I'm assuming the Senate too eventually) to actually read the bills before voting on them. If passed, the DownsizeDC proposed bill would not only require a 7-day mandatory "reading period" for all eligable congressional voters, but would also make any proposed bills public knowledge for that same peoriod. This increased government transparency would allow other congressmembers and us the public to be able to search for and point out any pork or other weaknesses before a bill becomes law.

Long story short, check out the above link to read more about the bill, and then sign the petition.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Website, Blog Updates

There are a few minor technical changes that have occurred today. First, if you scroll down the sidebar to your right, you'll see a search box for Technorati, a search engine/index of Internet "blogsites". Currently, the code in beta, and for me at least, both the local and web search do the exact same thing, ie search the entire Internet >:( At least it's handy for that at this point. More importantly, at least to me, is that the main site, etc. has been submitted to several major search engines. This should attract more people in the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Monty Python Supports Proportional Representation (PR)

The video linked to above is a 1984 UK public service announcement/ad supporting Proportional Representation, starring John Cheese from Monty Python. It's entertaining, and provides a lot of good, easy to understand information. Though old and copied from tape to MPEG at somewhat low quality, it's still relevant and worth a look (Run Time: About 10 min.)

As a very brief intoduction, Proportional Representation is a system in which a political party gets a % of the total seats in a governing body as the % of the vote they get in an election. For example, if the LP got 30% of the vote, the Dems 50%, and the Republicans 20%, then each party would get that many % of the seats. To use the US Senate as an example (it has 100 members), there would be 35 Libertarian senators, 50 Democracts, and 20 Republicans.

The PR system is used in almost all of Europe, where the parties themselves get to choose who fills that X% of the seats. Most Americans would find this method to lack transparency, as would I. Luckily, all of the most promising methods purported in the US allow you to choose both the party and the serving individuals. That means you get the best of both worlds- individual selection of your officials (like today), PLUS you gain a much better chance of actually GETTING those people into office. For small parties, this means no more having to win against the RepubliCrats by a landslide in an election!

For more info and articles about PR, visit this site.
An example of a variation on this theme can be seen in Illinois. It was used since almost the beginning in the state, but was eliminated in the 80s. Today, many lawyers and activists are trying to bring it back*.

*NOTE: Though I do not aggree with or advocate the implementation of some of the MDC's ideas, such as unicamiral legislatures, I think that IRV/PR are definately where it's at. Visiting their website will give you some good ideas on policy that you might not have heared of. At lest for me, I had a couple of "Why hadn't I thought of this before!" moments ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What's a "Libertarian"?

For those of you new to libertarianism, check out the link in this entry's title. Very briefly, the core philosophy of the libertarian is that government of all kinds should be small, serving only a limited number of functions, but doing a complete and throrough job of it. Coupled with this is the belief that every person posesses inherent rights that cannot be taken from them. Essentially, the libertarian believes that everyone should be able to do as he pleases, as long as it doesn't interfere with the rights of others. The web page above is a good review for you existing libs too, btw!

Something Fishy With McCain/Feingold?

In the latest edition of DownsizeDC.org's e-mail newsletter, they stipulate that a recent change in federal election campaign law will extend regulation to the Internet, and by extension to sites such as this one. I currently haven't read enough about this to make an informed descision, but I wouldn't be surprised. On the other hand, McCain at least tacitly supports Clean Elections and other elections reform measures, so I'm a bit conflicted here...

Website Now Online...

OK, people, the website is now online. And, assuming that this blog is working correctly again, you'll actually be able to read this!

All's In Order

Well, it looks like I managed to get everything working OK in terms of the domain name. The hardest issue was getting the Mail Exchanger, or "MX Record" set up correctly. Though all the documentation I could find was very ambiguous, I'll save the reader the pain and agony of figuring this out for himself. Basically, an MX record is just a secondary field of your DNS record that pertains to e-mail forwarding. Put simply, all it does it tell mail servers where to send messages so that they find their way to your account. Why isn't this just part of the main DNS info like everything else? Don't ask me, but my hunch is that making it too easy would put a lot of IT guys out of work ;)

Also of importance: The forums are up and running now. Hopefully they're configured to everyone's liking. Also, the main website is up and running in a relitavely decent manner. It will be improved and expanded, but for right now it's ugly but effective.

New Domain!

I just went through the purchasing process of a new domain name and host for our schtuff. It will take a few days, but hopefully all the manual MX record and DNS hostname crap will go OK. I purchased the domain from dyndns.org, since I've been using them before, but the hosting is done by imhosted.com... Anyway, it was a big pain in the ass figuring out what to do, and the documentation wasn't very clear from either company. I made a request to my host's tech support, so hopefully the'll give me the heads up on my process and tell me what to do if I screwed something up.

Again, the domain name is http://phoenixoflight.org/, and it will hopefully be leading visitors to the correct website by this weekend. Stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What IS Anarchy, Anyway?

Think you know what anarchy means? The New American Dictionary defines the term as "a state without government" as a primary definition, and the usual connotations of chaos, mayhem, and violence as subsequent definitions. What is it really? Read the essay entitled Anarchy & Being Autonomous In a Modern Age in Phoenixoflight's writings section.

Bienvenidos!

Welcome to the Phoenix of Light Network's news and oppinions page. It may look a bit (or very) hokey right now, but that's because I'm just getting started with this stuff. Also, there's the fact that we're getting pro web hosting/domain and it will take a few days to process, etc.

Anyway... What's the point of this blog/news service/whatever? To post (relitavely) frequently updated news articles and/or oppinion pieces that are interesting, but not neccessarily important enough to be included on the main website.