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Oprah pwned by Anonymous

OMG, Anonymous pwned Oprah!  These loosely confederated Internets boys and girl have brought us such wonderful things as rickrolling (via duckroll), LOLCats, and pedobear, and the world is slowly becoming aware of their existence.

After all, they’re more than internet meme machines.  Earlier this week someone broke into Sarah Palin’s email box and posted some of the conent online.  And they busted this pervert, which is quite ironic considering what the prankster posted on Oprah’s message boards:

“It does not forgive, it does not forget, the group has over 9,000 penises, and they’re all r*ping children.”

Shudder.  Incredibly rude and horribly offensive, that’s Anonymous for you.  Who the heck is screening Oprah’s material?  She should have verified what she was repeating, someone with that much power should be especially careful!

We can easily determine this is an Anon posting through some amateur “higher criticism”:

  1. Anonymous’ infamous “Message to Scientology” video, which ended with this:

    Knowledge is free.
    We are Anonymous.
    We are Legion.
    We do not forgive.
    WE DO NOT FORGET.
    Expect us.

  2. The phrase “over 9,000” is an old intenet meme (something to do with DragonBall Z), and this caused at least one “news” organization to report that Anonymous have over 9,000 members in their “Internet Hate Machine” broadcast.
  3. The offensiveness of this statement is pure 4chan style; they always seek to shock even the most jaded.  These guys are direct decendents of those who created shock sites like goatse and tubgirl.

While of course I don’t condone this type of griefing, I can’t help but be amazed at their subversive abilities and their extensive impact on popular culture.  You might not even realize it, but I estimate that more popular internet memes have been spread by Anonymous than anyone else.

And to also be clear to all those news reporters out there: ANONYMOUS IS COMPLETELY DECENTRALIZED.  There is no “leader” of Anonymous.  There is no membership.  There is no formal ideology, and no website or spokesperson.  There is anon culture, but there is no centralized authority AT ALL.

Anyone who contacts you claiming to speak for Anonymous is LYING.  Anyone can claim to be anonymous, and the average Anon griefer can’t identify a single other member (or “hacker” as those woefully misguided “news” organizations keep insisting), except maybe a few friends.

If you truly wish to know about Anon you must “LURK MOAR, newfag!”

.

PS: NO, I am NOT a member of Anonymous, just someone who’s interested.  I don’t post anywhere they do, and I don’t participate in their Invasions in any way.  I like them, but I also find them completely offensive.  Fascinatingly offensive….

And as you can see, I use my real name instead of an alias, despite the very real chance of retaliation from those who I might offend (I’m Soorrry! :)   All I do is lurk sometimes, and write about it in my silly blog.  It’s like how I’m interested in Christian history and theology, so I write about it.  But I’m not a Christian, see?  Who knows, maybe I’ll write a book about Anon some day..

Five Things Religions Shouldn’t Do

I’ve been participating on the religious bulletins at amazon.com. There are some very intelligent people who hang out in the that forum, which I guess is not to surprising, as it is amazon. There are also some very dumb people. It’s quite fun!

All the discussions over there inspired me to write this amazing authoritative ideological masterpiece about what religions should not do. I know, I know, you can give me the Nobel Peace Prize later.

1) Holy War

Please, as a world, can we finally just decide that killing each other over religion is a really bad idea? These meme should not be difficult it spread, especially if the religious “Moral Majority” vocally denounce those in their group who advocate any type of religious violence.

2) Government

A good modern day example of why theocracies are a bad idea is Saudi Arabia. Christianity joined up with Rome within a few hundred years of its birth. Islam was a religion with political goals right from the start. Outside of that dynasties ruled as gods, going back to the earliest agricultural city-states. So the idea that religion should not be running governments is relatively new. There is a very good reason for this, though, and that leads to the next thing religions shouldn’t do.

3) Persecute

No religious group should ever persecute another religious group, ever, for any reason. Due to the traditionally hybrid nature of church and state, persecution of other religions became an excuse for invasion and war. See the genocide in Joshua for a pertinent example, but there are many others. But there is more to persecution than War. Ostracizing people, considering them second class citizens, telling them they are going to hell. You shouldn’t treat other people bad simply because they don’t believe your religion, or believe something weird. Persecution should not be allowed, including persecutions for religious reasons.

4) Science

Let’s face it, Science and Religion are always going too have an uneasy relationship. Myself, I’m a firm believer in NOMA. But it’s important to remember that the Catholic Church still has egg on its face for prosecuting Galileo. If fact, religion as a whole was discredited for that move, so they should be very careful when making claims that can be checked by Science. If you need an approximation of objective truth, use the scientific method. If you’re looking for meaning and purpose, philosophy and/or religion are your best bet.

5) Control Adherents:

I’ve been following the Anon vs. Scientology protests, and I’ve really been thinking about how much control people give to their religions. Many of them are so intertwined that it completely consumes their life, even coming before family and friends! In the “religious practices” meaning of the word, these behaviors mark the members of “cults”, where religious behavior is reflected in every single thing the adherent does, to reflect their complete devotion. This sort of control is NOT HEALTHY, and religions should not venerate this behavior, or require it. Other inputs are necessary to have a full and well-balanced view of the world.

We’d all be a lot better of if religions didn’t do these things. Anything else?

Scientology Disconnects Families

Today’s “Party Hard” Protests seems to have gone well, although the “leader of Anonymous” was arrested in Atlanta for “protesting without a permit”. The good ol’ Southern boys also handed out numerous tickets for honking, as that is apparently against the law (selective enforcement, anyone?). “Leader” of Anon…so silly. The idiot did have a megaphone though, from what I understand…way to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

oh-f-k-the-internet-is-here.jpg

Even more interesting is the new website Ex-Scientology Kids, where people talk about what it was like to grow up in “the church”. One of the girls who created this site is David Miscavige’s niece, and all of their stories are terribly sad. They were raised in the church, decided to leave, and were subsequently astrocized by their more devout family members, and also directly harassed by Co$.

What happens is, if you leave you are not allowed to say negative things to your family about the church If you do not jump through the right hoops in the way when you leave and in what you say, people in the church are ordered to not speak or communicate with you at all. Many of these kids have not spoken to their parents/brothers/sisters/uncles/aunts in years!

Although under Scientology Reform Code family disconnects and fair game policy were canceled, in practice they still occur all the time. Reading these girl’s accounts makes it clear that while the policy was canceled, the practices surrounding those policies has stayed in play. Publicly criticizing any church practice or belief is automatic grounds for disconnection, and disconnection is total. If they church does allow you to see them, your family members will have to take special auditing courses to make sure they were not exposed to anti-Co$ ideas.

As someone who grew up in a religious family and later left, I know from personal experience that disconnects happen even with the best of intentions. Even when you love your family and they love you right back, and there is no official policy. The fact that you don’t share in a engrossing time/mind commitment like Evangelicalism or Scientology means that you are now out of community with each other. Try as hard as you want you are never going to be as close as you were when you had the same mission.

Scientology shares this aspect of religion, this full devotion and heartfelt desire to save the world from all bad things. They have a fervent belief that they are special, and that they know something that other people don’t know, and that this thing is important on a universe sized scale. That shared belief is a powerful community builder and a powerful motivator, as obscure and confusing as it may seem to an outsider.

The real question is whether this New Religious Movement is dangerous or not. The fact that Scientology continues to support disconnects makes it even harder for them to defend themselves. The question is whether fixed rate “donations” can be tax deductable. The question is how closely related are corporations and religions, and where can you draw the line to differentiate between the two.

Someone on Slashdot had this to say about defining Dangerous New Religious Movements:

* Physical barriers or a social hierarchy which prevent leaving.
* Financial dependence (and exploitation) of members.
* Isolation (especially physical) from non-followers.
* Sometimes, psychological control tactics, such as never allowing an individual member to be alone (where they might think for themselves and realise that This Is A Bad Idea) or hypnotic controls that encourage a trance-like state (physical exhaustion + certain rhythms = bad) . link

Scientology fits this definition disturbingly well, as even a small amount of research will show. Getting access to actual Scientology documentation is slightly harder, but it is available on the net and absolutely supports the view of a domineering bureaucratic corporate religion. Their obsession and trust in “Tech” is complete, as much as a fundamentalist’s belief in inerrant scripture. If you follow the Tech and still have problems, it’s your fault, not the Techs.

But modern Christianity does not usually lead to physical barriers against leaving, financial dependency, Isolation, and psychological control, although some in some extreme cases it does. Scientology has a choice to make now; whether to be benign or dangerous. So far the record isn’t looking very good, and their current actions aren’t helping.

May You Live in Interesting Times

I am seeing a marked decrease in complacency out there. Whether this will be good or bad remains to be seen, but I think it as a positive thing.

Obama is doing remarkably well against Clinton, winning the most delegates so far. More importantly, he’s smashing the popular vote, getting remarkably close to 2 to 1 against Billary. He is crushing both McCain and Clinton for the independent vote. A black man raised as a Muslim is being embraced by moderates; this country sure is learning from its past. Even more amazing is how well Obama is doing with the youth. The Democratic Party better realize the treasure it has in Obama. They need to recognize the amazing turnout at caucuses for exactly what it is; disgust with neo-conservative quasi-fascist policies. Obama is the the antithesis of this, and it is no surprise he has captured the imagination of so many people.

gas-mask-girl.jpg

Project Chanology invaded meat-space with a large worldwide protest, including one in dear old Seattle. It has also been noticed by the mainstream press, making the front page of newsweek.com Pretty cool. The “lulz” of Project Chanology is still coming through, with a parody of the Tom Cruise video by Pastafarians along with a companion “Anonymous” parody video against Pastafarianism:

“We are Anonymous

We do not forgive.

We do not double park.

We do not know the sweet touch of a woman.

Expect us.”

link.

Awesome. “Hot girls”, you must show up to these things. And I appreciate that so many people have stood up against using illegal and supressive tactics, as these just play right into their hands. The next protest in on March 5th, LRH’s BD. I have a lot more to say on this fascinating subject, but more on that later. Stay safe, kids!

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PS: Does anybody who is not Ethan know who Rob Sheridan is? (he took pic above)

Congress is finally showing some freakin’ balls. FISA, contempt, walk-outs, all sorts of good times. Public Service Announcement from Sidetrack: “if telco’s don’t get immunity, terrorists will kill your Grandmother.” Do you really think Bush & Co. gives a crap whether some telco executives go to jail? The problem is, the telco’s defense will be “We were just following orders“. Now that the wire-tapping is widely known (thank you internets!), “state secret privileges” do not apply, so this whole ball of crap is going to court. Can someone shout”Unconstitutional”? Guess who’s busy covering their asses!

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On some strictly personal news, I’ve started working for a multinational consulting company, as a Sr. Business Intelligence Developer. For good reason, corporations are sensitive about free expression of thought by their employees, especially if it contradicts societal norms. A loud mouth employee can be a bigger risk than asset, regardless of how effective he may be.

As a representative of my company what I do and say is very important, and I must always be respectful and courteous. So I want to make it clear this is my PERSONAL OPINION BLOG; protected under basic human rights, and has nothing to do with any corporate interests at all. It is in my legal right (and responsibility, I think) to use my real name for an opinion blog, and it is well within a company’s rights to not be represented on that blog. Free thinkers can be a tremendous asset for corporations as long as we all remember these things.

But on a strictly personal note, this is a very interesting time to live in, and I’m loving it! And speaking of interesting:

The Natural Philosophy of Scientology

xenu-pam.jpg

Someone went way overboard, and mailed packets of suspicious white powder to a number of Scientology offices. Fail; it terrified a bunch of people and wasted time and resources better utilized keeping the peace and tracking down Osama. This act has been vilified in the blogosphere, and Anonymous has condemned it and declared itself innocent of provoking this sort of behavior. Many have commented that this would make a good form of black propaganda, noting the many misdeeds of major and minor Scientologists.

If this was a Scientology operation, then it was done by a squirrel. Ditto if it was an Anon op. Not standard tech! The more I study these guys the less I believe that your average Scientologist is crazy or immoral; they are sane, rational, and follow the same basic code of ethics that the rest of us do. Good, solid citizens that you want for next door neighbors. They might try to give you a copy of Dianetics, but as long as you respect their beliefs they’ll respect theirs.

But if you are hostile to their beliefs, there is a good chance they’ll label you a suppressive person and consider you fair game. This is unfortunate and all to common in CoS, anybody who openly disagrees with their view of the world is persecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law, and sometimes beyond. This meme has been very damaging and is leading to a public relations nightmare that the church might not ever recover from.

Scientology was nominally founded as a way to improve the human condition through Science and Dianetics. Find me one Scientologist that would disagree with this and I’ll give you a nickel. But in order to practice the Scientific Method, you must publicize your finding for peer review, allow people to disagree with your findings, and even attempt to discredit them. You must take people’s criticisms and address them, and even discredit your own findings if you become convinced by evidence that you were wrong.

Indeed, this is a very accurate representation of L Ron Hubbard’s earliest activities, although he was of the type to rarely be convinced he was wrong about anything. Still, he tried to answer every critic, and deal with every situation; obsessively detailing exactly how everything should be painstakingly interpreted and resolved in order to make the idea all hang together. In this he behaved almost exactly like a scientific revolutionary, in the Kuhnian sense.

THIS DID NOT CONTINUE. The organization became more and more insulated as the attacks on their belief system became more hostile. They were called a cult, and started to behave like one. LRH became more and more isolated, always surrounded by adoring believers who thought he was the best thetan incarnation to come around in trillions of years. By definition it is impossible to practice Good Science in that environment The system became extremely hierarchal and tightly secretive. These days, to openly disagree with the church became exactly the same as mocking someone’s religious faith, and it is not taken lightly.

This is a far cry from where Scientology began, and it’s my personal belief the young LRH would be heartbroken if he saw his legacy today. He got rich, yes, but he lost the very basis of scientific value along the way. I’m a big science fiction fan, and Hubbard was one of the founding members of this genre. Their views on religion were extremely influential, as were their views on science. These were unmistakable and obvious values of the science fiction of Hubbard’s early career, causing many a Christian to vilify scifi as atheistic and humanistic propaganda. I’ve read a ton of it, and I think that’s a pretty fair judgment. They convinced me!

Nowadays, both Science and Science Fiction have moved into new territory, while Scientology is stuck in the 1940s. We now understand that rigid and authoritarian tech guidelines can never accurately model robust complex behavior. We understand that electroshock therapy really F’s people up, as does giving kids a bunch of mood altering drugs. Complexity, decentralization, networks and computation are everywhere around us, yet were practically unknown in the golden age of scifi. We understand that the clockwork universe is a myth, as we stare into the throat of the Singularity.

Is Scientology a corporation or a religion? Is it a sociological cult or a personality cult? Are they Amway or Jonestown? A knowing fraud or an honest delusion? Maybe it’s all true and 100% correct and Scientific Rationalists are the crazy ones. Probably something in between. I’m still checking it out.

Researching Scientology

On Friday 7 of the top 10 posts on digg.com were Scientology related. Right now the top post is some frat boys wearing “blackface”. Ahhh…the internet…traffic is capricious*. It’s very possible some sort of censorship or digg spamming is going on; either is more likely than a sudden drop in interest in Scientology.

Granted, Barrack Obama’s win in South Carolina is HUGE, and might save me from bitching about Hillary for four years. While I don’t think he is some kind of magic bullet, I still think he wouldn’t screw up the job too badly.

But War on Scientology is certainly not over.

Anonymous took a hit when “Regime” hacked 711chan.org and told everyone they fail, and that they were as lame as Scientology. Anonymous was pissed, and took back the board and published all the personal information of Regime. Currently the site is down. I’m confused, is this LULZ? It’s interesting that the first real hit back in the war was hacker on hacker, not Scientologist on hacker.

Regardless, Anon has already accomplished its first goal, which was the promotion of non-approved information about Scientology on the Internet. Copyright is not a good excuse when it comes to commentary and critique, and we are certainly critiquing! With a small amount of internet searching skills it is quite easy to find videos, documents, and detailed technical dictionaries all over the internet. Much of this was previously available, but now it is easy to find as well. Scientologies lawyers are scary, but I will not let that stop me from commenting on it as is my Constitutional Right. I too can afford lawyers; I will not break the law, but I also will not be intimidated.

I am continuing to research this corporation and will continue along with thousands of other bloggers. Scientology, we are your suppressive persons (SP), we analytically question your tech and your processes. We are alloying your affinity; we are communicating whether or not you desire it. You have been greatly deceived and we seek your gnosis.

The first place to start is with those who have intimate knowledge of the church and are willing to talk:

Steven Fishman Interview

Reject the “Wall of Fire” = Expulsion. Margery Wakefield’s tragic story.

Ex-Scientologist staff reports.

Won’t somebody think about the children!?” propaganda.

High Level Scientologist breaks code of silence.

Appendix to Scientology Terms. Absolutely essential for the new guy; this group is HUGE on private vocabulary and acronyms. Reminds me of the computer programmers and programs that Scientology’s “Tech” mimics. The Admin and Technical Dictionaries would be a much better source of information, though.

Some of these people have mental health issues, and it’s possible they might have made all this stuff up. One might also think that the church’s message appeals very strongly to these types. Some of what they say is obvious fabrication, but most of the statements are backed up by released materials and/or similar cases. For example, Margery’s story of being “off-loaded” is backed up by the Admin Dictionaries definition of “Fitness Board”. The jury is still definitely out, but Steven Fishman’s account is incredibly informative for those who are seriously interested.

Will Wheaton has something to say as well. We love you, Will, Crusher is dead.

* see below

digg on 1/25/2008digg-front-page-20070126.jpg

War on Scientology

Scientology has been all over the Internet recently, due to the propaganda video with Tom Cruise on the benefits of Scientology. “Re-Reading KSW”, “Orgs”, and “Have you met an SP?”; the specialized vocabulary is punctuated by what seems to be uncontrollable laughter, although maybe he has to pee real bad.

“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident, it’s not like anyone else, it’s, you drive past, you know you have to do something about it. You know you are the only one who can really help. That’s what drives me.“

Enter a hacker group called “Anonymous”, loosely centered around the /b/ random board on 4chan. They call themselves /b/tards, and are always up for LULZ. You won’t find much about these guys on Wikipedia, but Encyclopedia Dramatica has much to say if you are curious about this odd anarchic subculture.

A rough timeline of Project Chanology.

  1. First it was the Tom Cruise video leaked to youtube, most likely by frustrated reporters who weren’t able to get it shown through a mainstream channel. Much mirth and merrymaking did occur.

  2. This video was quickly taken down, as the CoS likes to abuse the DMCA in order to suppress free speech. Seriously, they have a long history of this. Uh oh. If you really want to piss off “the Internet”, try to shape reality by the suppression of information. You are guaranteed to get a violent reaction.

  3. A group of hackers called Anonymous attack back with a DOS attack on the Scientology website that apparently brought it down for days. This was quickly followed by a video in which war on Scientology was declared.

    “Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. With the leakage of your latest propaganda video into mainstream circulation, the extent of your malign influence over those who trust you, who call you leader, has been made clear to us. Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind–for the laughs–we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form. We acknowledge you as a serious opponent, and we are prepared for a long, long campaign.”

  4. CoS, not really knowing how to sue a bunch of random kids on the Internet, decided to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to those responsible for the Anon attack. This lead to even more mirth and merrymaking, as CoS had listed a bunch of anonymous proxies as “clues” to the hackers’ identities. When CoS realized their n00b error, they quickly took the page down, but not before internet archives could get it.

  5. Anon somehow got their hands on a bunch of Scientology documentation, and made it available…well, everywhere. Really, you can’t plug these leaks, a search for “SECRETDOX.rar” on the file sharing networks pulls up plenty of torrents.

As I see it, it’s CoS: 1, Anon: 4. One crazy inbred group versus another, but my money is on Anon. This could get very ugly before it’s over, so be careful out there!

Link to Gawker article

Link to Wired article

“Knowledge is free.

We are Anonymous.

We are Legion.

We do not forgive.

WE DO NOT FORGET.”