Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   asymmetrical nature of traceability
Wednesday, October 31 2007
I'd attached the lower backing girder on the new solar panel so close to its bottom that if I left it there the panel was going to stick up too high, casting a shadow on the larger homemade panel for much of the winter season. Lowering that girder turned out to be a painful multi-hour exercise, complicated by the general inaccessibility of the panel on the solar deck annex. There are no flooring planks on the annex, and the remotest corner of the panel coincides with a narrow acute triangle in the annex framing. Last year I compared working in such conditions to "space walks," but despite the abundance of available oxygen, they're actually more difficult because one still must contend with the ever-treacherous pull of gravity. I'd find myself wrapping my legs around joists and then reaching out with a GearWrenchTM, hoping to get it around a nut so I could back it off.
At one point in the midst of all this I discovered one of the remotest of my bolts had developed stripped threads and had to be removed. So now picture me in a dangerous and impossibly-uncomfortable position, holding a loose hacksaw blade between my fingers, sawing away at that bolt. Eventually I broke through, but it was murder.

As I worked, I listened to All Things Considered on KCRW (Santa Monica Public Radio) as rebroadcasted from my computer's small FM transmitter to a receiver that lives on the solar deck. In amongst the reporting was an interesting news item about Barry Cooper, an ex-cop who is so disgruntled with his former employers that he's released a DVD called Never Get Busted Again describing how to avoid having drugs found on you when you are searched by police. Not only did NPR present the video as an interesting news item (complete with interviews with ex-colleagues calling Cooper a Benedict Arnold), we were also treated to a number of useful tips from the video. Coffee grounds don't work, but hiding your stash in food is always a good idea because the cops will assume it's the food that set the dog off, not the drugs. Also, if you're hauling an appreciable quantity of drugs in your car, be sure to bring your cat, whose presence will throw a monkeywrench into any K9 search.
It seemed like an oddly-obscure news item for public radio, but later it occurred to me that a few items like this, sprinkled through their broadcasts, might be just what it takes to build a loyal counter-cultural following (while confirming the suspicions of Bill O'Reilly et al). If one can avoid being busted on just one significant drug haul, I can imagine feeling eternally grateful to whatever info-source provided the necessary information. This is the stuff of which fat donations are made!
Such broadcasts have special value due to the asymmetrical nature of traceability when it comes to the broadcast medium. Radio and broadcast television are inherently (if unilaterally) untraceable forms of information transmission. While it is easy to figure out who sends the message, it's impossible to determine who receives it. This is important when it comes to receiving information that might interest a surveillance-happy government agent listening in. On the internet, all data exchanges can theoretically be logged and traced, so if I do a Google search for, say, the proper lighting regime for marijuana or how to avoid being busted for drugs, I have to assume that someone in the government could have noted this and now I'm on (or soon I'll be on) a targeted watchlist. But if there is a radio show broadcasting such information, my reception of this knowledge is untraceable.

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