Directed by Laura Poitras.
With Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum, Ewen MacAskill, and others.
The Watchers, the Watched, and a Future of Walls with Ears
The first thing I learned from watching Laura Poitras’ long-anticipated new film, Citizenfour, is that the term ‘amnesia‘ refers to the Tor onion network, which provides a user with a non-persistent operating system environment in which dissidents and privacy defenders, and the like, can browse the ‘Net and send emails without risk of data later being recovered from one’s computer, because, once shut down, Tor forgets everything. (Or so we were told, until even the protections of Tor were shown to be highly vulnerable at the end nodes, and that spooks were actively engaged in cracking it.)
However, the appearance of Tor and amnesia early in Citizenfour gave me an a-ha moment because I’d just had published my review of Peter Carey’s new book, Amnesia, but neglected to include this Tor reference in my piece, although it now seemed like such an obvious thing to have done. Of course, though Carey’s main character, an Assange-like female hactivist, uses Tor, the title principally refers to how quickly Australians forgot the deposing of sitting Prime Minister Gough Whitlam back in 1973 at – some say – the insistence of the Nixon/Kissinger government. Anyway, I sighed and whistled and moved on.
To the Reader: Along with the Dylan quote below, note that the nickname of the first nuke set off by India in May 1974 was “The Smiling Buddha.” The two make up my title.
Also, I should note that this story has been submitted to an American sci-fi magazine and the decision is still pending, but I’m reasonably certain it will never be published, and it doesn’t matter now.
“Can they imagine the darkness
That will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them
And they won’t be able to die.”
Bob Dylan, “Precious Angel”
By John Kendall Hawkins
Watching Rob Wood and Sam Felton from the Wyss Institute at Harvard explain the power and the glory of origami robots brings on some serious chord changes in one’s lyrical thinking.
On the surface of things, where most of us live, one wants to rejoice at the exquisite beauty of origami robots assembling themselves, white angular sheets rising, like the Sydney opera house now but then transforming into a weird albino stick insect, twerking their little battery packs and walking away, as if nothing just happened.
It was like when I first read about 3D printers, parsing all the gushing wows, here we go high in the saddle cowboy smiles, giddyupping down the light fundongo, gleefully fleeing the Big Bad Bang and horsing along to the mother-of-all-things Singularity. All was blissful thinking.