My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Monday, September 9, 2013

What should we do about the NSA?

More revelations about the NSA, Bruce Schneier talks about them here.

Someone asked about it on the debian mailing list, and my knee-jerk reaction was a quote from someone at one of the British counterparts to the US intellegence agencies:
"Those that didn't know about it were gobsmacked."
(Not sure I got that accurate.) To which I added
If any of that surprises you, you haven't been paying attention.

Technology, we can work on a few things to hold them at bay for a little longer.
But keep your nose clean. Don't be a target.

Anything that must be private, keep it off the internet.

Have as few things that have to be kept private as you can.
Develop a good relationship with God, by whatever name you call That
Ultimate Entity, because that's going to be your only help in the end.

The best security is to not have anything worth attacking.

Technology can only go so far. It's always a war of attrition, which is the gaping hole in the NSA's logic in going from theory to practice, en-masse. So we can only keep them at bay for a little bit longer at any particular point in time. If you can't keep up, you're exposed.

That's the reason for going "religious".

War is always a game of going one better against the other guy until someone runs out of the will to do it again, or until someone runs out of resources. It doesn't end until somebody gives in. (That's actually one of the underlying messages of the Book of Mormon, by the way.)

New technology only adds new ways of going one better.

People who want you to pay them for making new technological weapons will argue that their technology can "beat the bad guys".

Funding development of new technology is usually a win-win, but this particular reason is all wrong, for all sorts of reasons.

In the first place, we have met the enemy and (Hi, Pogo) discovered we were looking in the mirror.

There are no bad guys, no good guys. (There's only you and I and a bunch of other people and sometimes we just disagree about something. Hi, Jim, Hi, Dave.)

Beating the bad guy is always a bad reason.

And if you admit that you may be just as bad, beating the other guy becomes an even worse reason, unless you know how to stop before someone gets seriously hurt.

In the second place, weapons are not the only or even the best use of technology. Neither is war. It's the easy use, in many cases, but that's no excuse, because of the first reason and the third, the reason I have already mentioned: It ain't gonna end until someone gives up or gives in.

In the third place, it's usually the bigger guy who gives in first. You see, the bigger you are, the more you get accustomed to the idea that there is always someone bigger than you are. You beat one enemy, and there's always going to be another. In video games, there's always the final enemy, the big boss. But there's always another video game.

In real life, there's always another bigger guy to beat.

Abraham was shown this, thousands of years ago, if you believe the LDS scripture. It's just as true now.

That brings up the fourth reason and I'll stop with reasons here: God is greater than all of us.

The only way to achieve real security is to develop a good relationship with the Ultimate Entity, as I said above.

I have to acknowledge that humans invent a lot of false gods, because they can't seem to wangle the real God. I'll also acknowledge that there is an influence, a lying influence, that runs around swaggering and claiming to be God, but is not. These are two issues you have to get around before you can start developing a relationship with the real Ultimate Entity.

But if you can get around those (and around your own desire to manipulate reality), you find that God is actually your friend.

Once you can understand that God is your friend, once you can see that God is your ultimate friend, you are no longer vulnerable to the NSA or any other artifact of man's greed.

So, what should we do about the NSA?

First things first, get your own computer in order. Then get your own house, your own life in order.

Wipe Microsofts or Apple's stuff off of it and load a free-as-in-freedom OS.

If you insist on Microsoft or Apple's stuff, think about the free-as-in-beer 3rd-party stuff you've downloaded. Any of those is one too many.

If the source code is not available for you and/or a skilled friend to look at, and if the license doesn't say you and/or your friend can modify the code, it's free-as-in-beer, not free-as-in-freedom.

Understand the difference between free beer and freedom. Okay, that should be the first thing:

Understand the difference between free drugs and freedom.

Well, I can't tell you all the things about repentance you need to know. If you don't have a religion, or a guiding philosophy, find one. You have to start somewhere.

(I'd like to tell you about the so-called "Mormon" brand of Christianity, but you have to take your own course. You're welcome, of course, to check us out, but if that's not your first place to start, start at your own first place to start.)

Be willing to change your ideas about religion, because you are only human, and humans can get wrong ideas. (That goes for any religion or philosophy, including atheism and Mormonism and Shintoism and anything else. No magic incantations that make you suddenly "right".) We all have some wrong ideas now and then. But try to change your ideas for the better, not for the worse.

And don't assume that you have to suddenly throw it all away just because maybe you didn't understand a few things quite right before. A few steps at a time will get you further than one giant step you're too afraid to take.

Once you get connected (or reconnected) with your conscience, learn how to talk with God. Understand that there are deceiving spirits and try to avoid them, but learn how to commune with your conscience. It can tell you right and wrong.

And it can also help you know about strategic things, like whether it's really time to throw away your non-free OS and try debian or openbsd or one of the more popular ones, or one of the more freedom-oriented ones.

And it can motivate you to learn how to use passwords and user names properly. And other things about using the things you have wisely.

So, what to do about all the people who want to steal your privacy?

Don't get too excited.

Get in touch with your conscience first. Once you're in touch with your conscience, the rest comes along, a bit at a time.

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Courtesy is courteous.