Twitter blocked in Turkey; activists graffiti alternate DNS workaround

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has instated a ban of Twitter ostensibly over concerns that it hosts pornography, but from all appearances actually in response to repeated leaks of damning recordings of government officials.

However, the way that the ban is implemented is very rudimentary — the government has forced all ISPs in the country to remove twitter.com from their DNS servers.

In response to this ban, activists have been graffitiing Google’s DNS servers:

Graffiti on a turkish wall reading 'DNS: 8.8.8.8 Alternatif: 8.8.4.4'

Picture obtained here, can’t find the original source — if you do, let me know.

It’s not clear how long this workaround will last, but there are other avenues. One could, for instance, switch DNS to OpenNIC, or if changing DNS no longer provides enough of a workaround and these ISPs are forced by the government to shut down all traffic to Twitter’s servers, then you could instead connect to Tor or some other anonymizing VPN or proxy service.

When people complain that they’re being silenced for being blocked or moderated on a blog, I have to laugh — that’s not in any way an abrogation of your freedom of speech. Having all access to the internet cut off by a totalitarian government, on the other hand, is most decidedly one, and is most decidedly something we all must fight.

You can take our gun columnists, but you’ll never take our freedom!

Here’s an interesting little situation that’s come up recently. Apparently, a gun columnist by the name of Dick Metcalf questioned the wisdom of gun rights advocates demanding there be absolutely no limits to the “Right to Bear Arms” by arguing that a sixteen hour course for a concealed carry permit was reasonable. As a result, he was fired from his column with Guns And Ammo, and now his career of 40 years has evaporated.

Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.

“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” Mr. Metcalf, 67, said in an interview last month on his gun range here, about 100 miles north of St. Louis, surrounded by snow-blanketed fields and towering grain elevators. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”

This is almost identical to what happened with that Duck Dynasty jackass being suspended by A&E for saying stupid homophobic bullshit, only that story had a “happy” ending — right-wingers successfully rallied to demand that A&E reinstate Duck Dynasty because HOW DARE THEY TAKE AWAY HIS FREEDOM OF SPEECH by… exercising their own freedom to choose what gets aired on their network. And A&E caved, mistaking the conservative outcry for something actually approaching a morally justifiable standpoint.

I anxiously await the protest by Sarah Palin, Brian Brown, and the whole host of conservative loonies to demand that Metcalf’s column be reinstated. I further await the people running interference on the Duck Dynasty issue as being a matter of freedom of speech to say something, anything, about this guy’s column about guns.

“Smokey Joe” Barton’s long history of antiscience propaganda

Remember how Joe Barton apologized to British Petroleum for the government’s mild reproach and slap on the wrist after their oil spill destroyed the Gulf of Mexico and created a dead zone that will last for decades? Turns out he was one of the bigger names involved in the disinformation campaign waged by the tobacco industry.

Those of us who weren’t old enough or politically aware enough might not have known this fact about Barton, or might have let that information slip into the memory hole; we might otherwise think that this antiscience campaign waged by the oil industry against climate scientists is a unique phenomenon. Spreading this information about Barton’s and others’ tactics is therefore vital.

Normally, ad hominem is a fallacy. However, establishing a pattern of behaviour and modifying one’s treatment of or trust in another person based on such patterns of behaviour is entirely reasonable and rational. Seeing this man (and others, like Boehner) repeat the same tactics that worked so well in forestalling public acceptance of the truth behind tobacco’s deleterious health effects, used in a fight with vast and far-reaching consequences about the deleterious effects we as a species are having on our environment, is rather galling, but definitely useful information. It means we are forearmed against these tactics and can counter them. It means we are aware in advance of the fact that the people with their hands on the levers of political power in this country are not principled actors, and that they are more than willing to lie about reality for a quick buck to everyone else’s detriment.

Skepticon: Not my Canadian pride!

Debbie Goddard fired a shot across Canada’s bow, viciously savaging us during her talk at Skepticon where she related her deconversion. She said — I am horrified to even have to type this; someone fetch my couch! — that we’re “not really foreign.”

More specifically, she related her experience visiting Oslo, where she was in “for the first time in a really foreign country, not like Canada”.

The GALL. The unmitigated NERVE!!! What a HORRIBLE thing to say to a Canadian! I cannot stand for this. No Canadian could. Now, on behalf of all of Canada, I am forced to apologize!

Wait, no, not apologize. Explain. Prepare yourselves, I’m about to Cansplain all over this.
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On not being completely free to curate

I just attended Skepticon 6, and had a number of excellent and thought-provoking conversations with some people I’ve admired, some people I’ve long since befriended, and some people I’d never met before but am glad to have met now. It was a great experience, a few issues aside which I’ll, naturally, have to talk more about soon.

On Wednesday night, immediately after work, Stephanie, Brianne and I piled into the car and undertook a ten-hour car ride south. We arrived at 5 am, and promptly hit our beds and crashed. The first night we were in Springfield, Missouri, folks were still filtering into town, and as we skeptics are wont to do, we sought one another out for the first of what promised to be many of those thought-provoking conversations. This conversation became the genesis for this post, which will hopefully serve as a follow-up to my recent post about curating your internet experience.
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CNN panelist on Chelsea Manning: Prison will be “practice”

If it wasn’t for the fact that she really quickly chimed in with where she wanted to go next with this panel, I would have thought the anchor’s face was one of horror at lawyer Richard Herman’s bullshit.

Trigger warning for transphobia and a rape joke, which I’ve already telegraphed in the title.


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#FtBCon: Mission Creep (with text)

FtBConscience banner

My talk for FtBConscience! Hooray!

Comments are disabled there, but are enabled here. The video should hopefully also helpfully direct would-be commenters here via the description.

Full text of my speech below the fold. It doesn’t contain any of the verbal burrs or slight tangents I took but it’s largely intact. I hope some kind soul is good enough to transcribe the Q&A portion, but if not, I’ll do so myself eventually. Richard Carrier asked a question about libertarianism, and I was forced to answer honestly rather than hedging. I’m sure I’ll incur some wrath!

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12-year-old boy speaks truth to Egyptian power

If this translation is anywhere near accurate, this child could absolutely be, as the title of the video suggests, the next President of Egypt. That is, if he survives that long. He is astoundingly clued-in, and he is possibly the bravest young man I’ve had the honour to see in my entire life, knowing how volatile the Egyptian situation is, and knowing how quick to silence dissent the fascist theocracy is that’s rising to replace the overthrown Morsi.

I fear for his life. That should not be the first reaction a person has to seeing someone contradict power structures. That’s no way to win the hearts and minds of your people, to build a country and a society that will last.