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Pre-2008 Posts

International Cyberwars, Cyberterrorism, “Yellow Peril” Racism and Doomsday Predictions: Thoughts and a Practical Response

Last night on my way home from work I read an article in the Seattle Times entitled U.S. Under Widespread Attack in Cyberspace.  Some interesting excerpts:

WASHINGTON — While U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan engage the enemy with guns, tanks, airplanes and missiles, the Pentagon is quietly fighting a much different kind of war on a new front — cyberspace.

Military officials say that a cyber-attack by foreign enemies or terrorist groups could result in “an electronic Pearl Harbor” that would shut down electricity, banking systems, cellphones and other tools of day-to-day life.

A report issued Thursday by security-software firm McAfee said government-affiliated hackers in China are at the forefront of a brewing “cyber Cold War” still in its infancy.

Within two decades, according to McAfee, the scuffle could erupt into a worldwide conflict involving hundreds of countries attacking one another’s online networks with sophisticated software.

McAfee said about 120 countries are developing cyber-attack strategies and most are merely testing them to determine the risks involved in certain tactics — though devastating international attacks could come one day.

Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of more limited cyber-assaults are already bombarding the firewalls of government computer systems daily, prompting U.S. officials and military leaders to declare the United States is already at war on the cyberfront.

I have lived long enough to have watched a number of these doomsday predictions come and go, including doomsday predictions involving widespread, international computer failures (i.e., “Y2K“).  So, I don’t get overly excited when I read this kind of thing.   I do not, in other words, get the urge to stock up before the hoarders get it.   What concerns me more than these warnings themselves is what might be motivating them.   The internet really is the last bastion of free speech, and dictatorial, authoritarian regimes rightly view it, therefore, as a threat.  We are increasingly witnessing governments using filtering technologies (usually developed in the United States) to block citizens’ access to websites, to monitor citizens’ e-mail, and to keep them from installing privacy software.  We are also seeing bloggers and website owners harassed and jailed  during times of political turmoil, most recently in Iran and Burma.   In researching this blog post I came across this hideous report of the torture of an Egyptian blogger who was jailed for four years for “defaming religion” and “vilifying the president“.  The reasons usually given for government control of the internet are protection of national security, protecting citizens against pornography, and protecting intellectual property.  

If I become President of the United States, I will make it a priority to protect the internet and, in particular, citizen access to the internet, and to broaden access to the internet via programs like the One Laptop Per Child Campaign.  If others of the front-running candidates, Republican or Democrat, are elected, all bets are off.  We  have seen such a serious erosion of human and civil rights in the U.S.  under the Bush Administration that we will likely never recover the ground we have lost in terms of our human and civil rights, and I have no reason to believe that any of the front-running candidates is particularly interested in restoring the ground we have lost.  Without vigorous protection of the internet, internet privacy, and internet access, we will likely lose all of these as well, in time. 

One thread running through the article in the Seattle Times and the McAfee report to which it refers is that many of the attacks on U.S. computer networks, government bodies and corporations appear to originate in China.  Given the ongoing criticisms of China in so many other arenas — criticism of Chinese imports, food, pet food, labor practices, human and civil rights records — and American fear of Chinese economic growth, there is reason to be concerned that this is so much anti-China fear-mongering, having more to do with China’s increasing power globally and its threat to U.S. and other Western powers than with any legitimate threat so-called Chinese cyberterrorists may pose.   The stereotyping and “Yellow Peril” racism in the excerpts above are disturbing, including not only references to the Chinese but to the Japanese, i.e.,  referring to cyberterrorism as an “electronic Pearl Harbor.”  

 I have personally experienced cyberterrorism and I do not take it lightly.   I certainly think we should all do our best to protect ourselves, to stay educated and informed.  I think we need the best possible protections on our own home computers and I think we need to elect government officials and a President who evidence at least some degree of knowledge about the internet and its significance to human and civil rights, instead of leaving this supremely important realm for male techies, computer firms and the Pentagon to deal with!  Fox.  Henhouse.  Discuss. 

In the meantime we need, I believe, to protect ourselves in other, noncomputer ways.  Should internet access be compromised, we are all, after all, going to return to the local newspapers and local paper publications many have stopped reading, because they are local,  and we can buy them at the local newsstand; we do not need computers in order to access them.  While local news media may also be affected by internet disruptions, they will still have access to ordinary citizens and will be equipped to keep citizens connected  locally.

Those of us connected across great distances via the internet, though, will have problems should internet access be disrupted or curtailed for whatever reason.  For this reason, I am going to do what I’ve been threatening to do for some time now, I am going to start a simple paper publication for woman-centered women.  It will begin as just a page or two sent via U.S. First Class mail each month.   Yes, the internet would also affect postal service, but the postal service is going to be working on that,  I am sure; it is an institution which delivered mail for hundreds of years before there was an internet. 

Besides concerns over the internet, there are other reasons I think it’s time we had a simple paper publication to connect us.  Snail mail communication cannot be disrupted or infiltrated by trolls.   It cannot be hacked, gigaloaded or DDOS’d.   E-mail addresses of subscribers cannot be phished and violated and neither can snail mail addresses of subscribers.  It allows us a way to network ourselves globally and locally and to discuss issues, projects and activism and which is not visible or accessible to those who oppose our work and community.  I have long believed and said that we will have to, at some point, return to paper. 

So, if you would like to be on my mailing list, send me a note with your snail mail address to cheryllindseyseelhoff@gmail.com.  I will add your name to my mailing list and will immediately delete your address from my e-mail box.  If you can send me postage, please do, via PayPal, especially if you do not live in the U.S.   If you can’t, it’s okay, I’ll mail out these Women’s Space communiques so long as I can at my own expense, as much as I can include in an envelope with a .42 stamp (for women in the U.S.).  My dream is that apart from creating an additional way to communicate which doesn’t involve the internet, a regular newsletter might help women to connect locally so that should internet connection be disrupted, women will be able to connect with other women who live nearby.   It will allow us to share information, support each other, trade ideas, make plans, and offer resources.  If you want to be on the mailing list and you are not known to me, either (1) provide me with a reference to someone I do know, i.e., “I am a friend of Branjor, she will vouch for me,” or (2) I will send you a brief questionnaire to ascertain that you are a person of good will.  Both men and women may receive the publication, but if you are male, I will have to either know you personally, in real life or via substantial online communications, or a woman I trust will have to vouch for you.  Whether I begin with two subscribers or 200, I’m going to begin.  Join me! Let’s do it!  It’s exciting and it’s time.  Of course, we’ll keep blogging and creating websites, but I don’t believe it’s wise, given just what I have experienced over the past year, given the male domination of the internet and the increasing problems related to hacking, “hacktivism,” cyberbullying, and government surveillance and intrusions, to place all of our faith in this medium, all of our eggs in this basket.  We need the old ways as well.

Heart

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Discussion

28 thoughts on “International Cyberwars, Cyberterrorism, “Yellow Peril” Racism and Doomsday Predictions: Thoughts and a Practical Response

  1. I too, was not overly panicked by the doomsday prediction(s) — they have been going on for a long time. Numerous movies/tv even 20 years ago along similar themes.

    Time to get ourselves a wimmin’s internet and server me thinks! Of course, porn-free.

    Posted by stormy | December 1, 2007, 7:00 pm
  2. I’d love to see a women’s internet and women’s servers; the problem is, we would have to build an entire infrastructure to support them and keep them safe. Just having a server isn’t enough because you have to depend on all of the “pipelines” which connect and transmit information between servers. Servers are also, of course, vulnerable to the same kind of hacking/cybercrime that colleges, government bodies, banks, the Pentagon, etc. are experiencing. While the terrorists and criminals that do this stuff are finally being caught and sent to jail, the numbers are tiny compared with the magnitude of the crimes being committed. Creation of a women’s internet would require thousands of women techies with millions and probably billions of dollars to connect women not only via servers but information pipelines which serve the servers. Ain’t going to happen in my lifetime for sure.

    Posted by womensspace | December 1, 2007, 7:31 pm
  3. This is a damn good idea, Heart! Another obstacle in creating a women’s Internet is that it would immediately become a huuuuuge target for men; they would bombard us day and night, enraged at the idea that we would even think of separating ourselves from their vile brutality. (This is one thing I’ve never gotten — most of them hate us, yet they freak the fuck out whenever we take steps to separate ourselves from them. That is some seriously messed-up and illogical behavior, when you hate somebody yet refuse to let them leave your life.)

    I think we need to elect government officials and a President who evidence at least some degree of knowledge about the internet and its significance to human and civil rights, instead of leaving this supremely important realm for male techies, computer firms and the Pentagon to deal with! Fox. Henhouse. Discuss.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time — I recently took an A+ computer class (basically teaches you to be a techie) and although my teacher, a network admin, wasn’t condescending to female students or anything, he really did. not. get. why most of the women in our class were so concerned about harassment on the Internet. He seriously didn’t think it was a big deal and thought there was no sense in trying to stop it or prosecute those responsible, because of course he’s never dealt with it himself. It’s so, so infuriating that these are the people who we depend on to “protect” us, and I hope that if I get my certification I’ll have a chance to change that (though more likely I’ll just get pissed off and leave).

    Posted by mekhit | December 1, 2007, 8:24 pm
  4. So true, Mekhit, re this “I hate you, don’t leave me” personality disordered relationship men have with women. So many men treat women as though they do hate them, but just let us attempt to create our own spaces and it’s oh, no, you don’t! Very perverse.

    I’ve been increasingly thinking about a paper publication because there’s a lot of stuff I don’t write about, events I don’t announce because it isn’t safe to on the internet. Assholes and misogynists and random haters will read and make trouble. Given the events of the past year, it’s not worth it to me to take chances with some kinds of discussions/announcements/information.

    Like someone just wrote to me in e-mail, the Second Wave made revolution using zines, in large part, to communicate, worked great! I feel excited. 🙂 It’s always a bad idea to have all our eggs in one basket, regardless.

    And yeah re male techies. They don’t get it or don’t want to or both.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 1, 2007, 9:33 pm
  5. ***Another obstacle in creating a women’s Internet is that it would immediately become a huuuuuge target for men; they would bombard us day and night, enraged at the idea that we would even think of separating ourselves from their vile brutality.***

    Isn’t that the truth. Never mind the “no women on my internet dreck”.

    Posted by Branjor | December 1, 2007, 10:24 pm
  6. Hey Branjor, I had one troll give me the delightful message:
    “GTFO my internetz” (verbatim)

    Menz, for the most part, do seem to hate us (ALL wimmin, not just feminists FFS) yet do have that “I hate you — you cannot leave me” ABUSER mentality thing going on.

    Sick puppies.
    Twisted menz logic.

    Posted by stormy | December 2, 2007, 12:51 am
  7. Yep, Stormy. “I hate you but you can’t leave me” is the classic signature of an abuser.

    It’s really not too hard to understand, Mekhit. An abuser’s greatest fear is that she will leave him. Which is in part why he’s so controlling to begin with. He hates that he needs her so and is so dependent on her (which is so “unmanly”) and knows if the roles were reversed, he sure as hell wouldn’t put up with himself and willingly stay in the relationship. So he tries to force her to stay, through, among other things, fear, intimidation, violence, and economic sanctions (which is so much more “manly”). Whatever works. Which ironically, is exactly what will make her want to start running for the hills.

    I wish women would get that men and women do not speak the same language. We’re raised and conditioned completely different, but all of a sudden we’re on the same page when he says, “I love you?” LOL. Hardly. When a man says, “I love you,” it means something completely different to him than it does to her. Love = possession to him. The two words have been conflated for centuries. He loves you all right. He loves you like he loves his car. (Altho I think he might love his car a little bit more). As a possession.

    And yeah, the whole hate thing makes sense. The emotions and passions of love and hate are very similar. Not opposite. The opposite of love is indifference, not hate.

    Posted by luckynkl | December 2, 2007, 11:40 am
  8. I think this is a great idea Heart, we can never have to many avenues.

    With the men, could it be a case of, don’t want you, do want the womb?.

    Posted by helzeph | December 2, 2007, 11:48 am
  9. Hey, helzeph, I knew you’d love this idea! 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | December 2, 2007, 5:13 pm
  10. Very good overview Lucky.

    When a man says, “I love you,” it means something completely different to him than it does to her. Love = possession to him.

    It also seems to be very conditional as well. Anything from ‘you got fat’ to the ‘upgrade’ to the ‘new improved (always) younger model’. Men upgrade cars in much the same way.

    The emotions and passions of love and hate are very similar. Not opposite. The opposite of love is indifference, not hate.

    Yes true Lucky. Both love and hate are strongly vested emotions. I am personally completely indifferent to men as a group. If men all disappeared tomorrow it would take me at least until noon to notice *maybe longer*😛. Calling feminists ‘man haters’ is just pure projection on their part. The correct analysis would be largely ‘man indifferent’. That is the very scary part for men, if women in great numbers realise they don’t need men.

    The abuser mentality is the bully mentality. Bullies are usually very insecure underneath, hence their need for control and domination. And to keep ‘the possessions’ in check.

    The reason they love their cars more? The car doesn’t get all uppity when mistreated.

    Posted by stormy | December 2, 2007, 8:33 pm
  11. He loves you all right. He loves you like he loves his car. (Altho I think he might love his car a little bit more).

    Back in my high school pre-feminist days, I actually had a guy friend who admitted that he loved his car more than his girlfriend of almost a year. It was terrifying.

    I am personally completely indifferent to men as a group. If men all disappeared tomorrow it would take me at least until noon to notice *maybe longer*

    Oooh, I would definitely notice. I’d be all like, “Wait a minute, why hasn’t anybody stared at me or tried to hog all of my seat on the bus or tried to lecture me on things I already know about yet today? WAIT A MINUTE!!!” But all joking aside, this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, about how little I notice men except in the context of my own safety and how much they seem to notice me and other women. I mean, I guess I could be considered conventionally pretty but I’m not Miss America or anything, yet men are always looking at me, smiling, trying to get my attention. It makes me feel like a goddamn animal in a zoo. It’s occurred to me recently that men are much, much more concerned about women than we ever will be about them, and I’m beginning to think that that’s one of the (many) reasons why they commit violence against us, because that’s the only way they can be assured they have our attention. As long as we need to protect ourselves from them (and supposedly need them to protect us from them) they’re still relevant in our lives. Of course, I know there are many other reasons for their violence toward us, but this is one I just recently realized.

    Posted by mekhit | December 3, 2007, 2:28 am
  12. ***I am personally completely indifferent to men as a group. If men all disappeared tomorrow it would take me at least until noon to notice *maybe longer****

    When I was in elementary school girls and boys were apparently segregated for recess from about grade 3 up. I didn’t notice until my mother mentioned it to me. I was 35 years old at the time.

    No shit.

    Posted by Branjor | December 3, 2007, 2:15 pm
  13. Hi Heart! Great idea! I just emailed my deets to you along with an invitation to see a recent commissioned quilt made from a feminist t shirt collection. I hope you’ll check it out by clicking my name and going to the quilt gallery. The quilt is called “I Am Mermaid” (as in “hear me roar!”) Love to all –

    Posted by V Kingsley | December 3, 2007, 5:46 pm
  14. mekhit:

    It’s occurred to me recently that men are much, much more concerned about women than we ever will be about them, and I’m beginning to think that that’s one of the (many) reasons why they commit violence against us, because that’s the only way they can be assured they have our attention. As long as we need to protect ourselves from them (and supposedly need them to protect us from them) they’re still relevant in our lives.

    I hadn’t thought about that, but I think you are right. One of the greatest insults you can give men is to ignore them (or their advances). An insult of the highest order (apparently!). Sheesh, what a pack of pathetic losers.

    Branjor; ROTFLMO. 35yo indeed!
    I went to an all-girls school for my final years — loved it. Didn’t really miss them that much (not very often for sure), and we were free to express our true selves without all that additional BS that goes along with teen co-ed.

    Posted by stormy | December 3, 2007, 6:11 pm
  15. Hey, V. 🙂

    EVERYONE should click on V’s name there and look at the slide show of the “I Am Mermaid” quilt as well as the youtube documentary alongside it.

    You will be so inspired! Check it out!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 3, 2007, 6:25 pm
  16. Wowser!
    I’ve never seen so many feminist t-shirt slogans in one place.
    Amazing work V. Excellent Herstory of the 70s.😀

    Posted by stormy | December 3, 2007, 8:10 pm
  17. I still like “A Woman Without a Man Is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle”.

    Posted by Branjor | December 3, 2007, 10:00 pm
  18. I didn’t see that among the slogans.
    A classic.

    Posted by stormy | December 3, 2007, 11:40 pm
  19. Heart,

    Your idea to create a list of people to whom you’d provide a paper-based newsletter of sorts has a lot of problems.

    True, you would have a go-to list for snail mail, should internet communication be disrupted or eliminated. But in the event of a government crackdown, do you really think snail mail systems would be any more free? I doubt it.

    If a big enough entity wants to shut you down or shut off access to your site, such as China does to its citizens and western intelligence agencies do to some Islamic terrorist web sites, that entity is going to do it. The solution is not some antiquated snail mail newsletter but rather further involvement now in politics and a greater knowledge as to how to access free servers, so that a technologically dependent and advanced society such as our own may remain free.

    You say you have things to write about that you don’t want trolls and other hostile forces to be able to disrupt with internet attacks. Isn’t a spam filter (such as that installed on many websites/blogs) and a moderated blog enough protection? And if it is not, maybe you aren’t using enough protective devices and practices on this website. Consult a professional on this.

    Finally, think of the opportunity cost of this venture of engaging in a snail-mail newsletter. At 42 cents a pop, you cannot shoulder the burden of that cost. If your fans want to listen, they will subscribe and pay those minimal costs. But the cost is only minimal to the individual, not to the organization (you) laying out a bunch of cash. The finanacial costs are but a small part of the total cost to yourself. Each of us has a limited number of hours each week to do what is important to us. Is this the best, most prioritized use of your time? I can think of a dozen ways for you to be more effective, influential, and helpful to women.

    Collect the names, if you feel must, but this strikes me as fool’s errand. It’s like building a personal bomb shelter in your back yard in the 1950s — if nuclear war came, that wouldn’t have sheltered you from its effects. Nor would canning and jarring a harvest from your farm do a thing to ease world hunger. Engagement in politics is the only true strategy.

    Posted by twitch | December 4, 2007, 11:57 am
  20. Hey, twitch, thanks for discouraging me. 🙂 No, really! At times, this is a good thing.

    Having a snail mail list is just one more option. It will allow me to write about things I am not willing to write about here because there are so many hostile lurkers. I have spam filters aplenty, as anybody who routinely gets her comments spammed knows (!), but me getting spam is only one part of the problem. The other part of the problem is the real attacks which have been launched against me and others, not just to take my website down, but death threats, rape threats, threats to harm my family. A separate snail mail list allows for privacy I don’t have here, including allowing me to write about events/actions/strategies which would, if written about publicly, cause problems for me, not troll attacks on my blog, attacks from others on their own sites and blogs and other places, which ultimate can result (and have resulted) in real life threats to me.

    While snail mail can be disrupted too, you can bet your bottom dollar those concerned with protecting national security will be figuring out how to protect their postal systems, especially in light of the wholesale shutdowns of the internet recently in places like Burma, Iran, and so on and the mounting threat of “cyberwars.” We all need the post office. It is always Plan B for communication. If the internet fails and the post offices fail as well, the good thing is, via snail mail some of us will by that time have connected in real life and will know how to connect with each other, help each other, in real life. A big part of my hope is that we can connect other than on the internet (those of us who haven’t so far).

    Re the cost. Women seem to be more than willing to send me postage money so far. If they stop and it’s too burdensome, then I will abandon my plans. If women support it, then I’ll continue. It’s an experiment, another way to continue revolution-making. There are plenty of women — PLENTY — of radical feminists/lesbian separatists who have all but stopped commenting/blogging/posting to the internet. The attacks, threats, death threats, rape threats, are not worth it to them. So far, I’ve continued on despite all of the above, but I, too, would like more and more options to connect with women aside from the internet where all sorts of misogynists can and do read all of the time.

    I won’t stop applying myself to this blog or my other feminist work.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 1:46 pm
  21. I am so sorry to hear that people feel the need to threaten rape and murder just because you are speaking up Heart.

    This was not a very big problem in all my lesbian activism, because we had small groups that did a lot together. For example, one group had maybe 25-30 attendees monthly, but out of that came two newsletters that flourished worldwide, and a host of other projects.

    We were all literate lesbian feminists.

    Snail mail lists would work too. That’s how we did all our activism anyway. The Internet is great, but I think it leaves a lot to be desired because many young women have poor real life interpersonal skills as a result. It’s a big problem with lesbian groups in Los Angeles, for example.

    Lesbian Connection has an excellent financial model of operation for over 32 years. It’s still grass roots and real, and still going strong. Please let us all know if you want snail mail addresses, and I’ll email mine to you. Also, you might want to say how much money you need per person to make your plans for a newsletter work, it that’s what you want to do.

    I like to set a budget at the end of each year for contributions, and I create a list of organizations. I also create a lesbian emergency fund in case someone I know needs a doctor and doesn’t have insurance or someone else loses a job or needs gas money to drive to interviews. We all have our ups and downs, so this lesbian social support network is very important!

    Do what you need to do to feel safe. I hate it that feminism is exposed to more hate postings by womanhaters these days, then it did years ago.

    I think sometimes we all don’t know how strong we are, and how threatened patriarchy really is. It’s a real war out there with right wing men resorting to brainwashing cultish mega-churches to indoctrinate women.

    Whether its christian or muslim, it’s about male abuse of power, and feminism is a target generally.

    We keep separate email lists, snail mail lists, phone numbers and faxes etc. We also have phone trees too, but these are hard to work with because again, a lot of new lesbians are inexperienced at even making lots of phone calls due to email, texting and the net.

    Any social movement has to be very focused, and feminism’s strengths are also its weaknesses as well.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck Heart.

    Posted by Satsuma | December 4, 2007, 8:38 pm
  22. Thanks, Satsuma! I think the LC is the greatest! I love the grassrootsness of it and the sustainability of it and the long, successful history. I also love reading it and save every copy. I wish it were a tad more politically oriented often enough, but I also understand why it isn’t.

    I am anticipating sending out a newsletter every month, just what fits into a number 10 envelope with a 42 cent stamp, so I’m betting that’s 2-3 sheets of regular copy paper onto which I will cram all sorts of stuff. 😀 The virtue of doing it this way is, I don’t have to apply to the post office for any special licenses to do bulk or second class mailings like I had to do with my publication, oy. You really get run through the wringer for second class mailings and you are audited, etc., and for my purposes I do not want that kind of trail.

    I am going to keep everything on CDs. No mailing lists on my hard drive, just on paper or on CDs which are available only to me and women I completely trust. That way, everyone can be sure of the security of her information, no matter what. And since I am mailing first class, the post office, etc., won’t ever have any right to see who I mailed anything to.

    I would like it if women sent me enough to mail them as many issues as they want me to mail them at least, so if they want 10 issues, then 4.20 or the equivalent in stamps. If women want to send more for envelopes or paper, etc., that will be up to them. And if women cannot send anything, that will be okay, as well. I will just see how it goes, month to month. I love these grassroots ways! They are so my heart. This is the only way I know how to work and be really happy and excited about it. 🙂

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 9:02 pm
  23. Dear Heart,

    Speaking up shouldn’t hurt, and I am sorry that you have been subject to threats via the internet for the work you’ve posted there.

    I do wonder how serious such threats can be, given the lack of your home address and personal details. But I suppose if your real name is available directly or by a few clicks away from your blog , then your home address is easy to locate with a personal background search, also available on the web. Any deranged person can make it his mission to hunt just about anyone down. I think of Dr. Slepian getting assasinated in his kitchen.

    So I get your reasoning about wanting to stay more safe, if that’s possible, simply by disseminating your most controversial views less publically and less widely. What a shame, however, that on some level you are self-censoring out of fear! I cannot tell you to do otherwise, to take a risk. I cannot do that.

    But I do wonder if you might want to create another blog that does not have any links to your personal data, your name, etc. I am thinking of Chicago Dyke, whose postings I’ve read for a year or so now, but whose identity I have no idea about. Maybe that way of blogging would provide you the security you need, while keeping your views widely disseminated.

    Lastly, that is not to say you shouldn’t have a paper newsletter, since you obviously enjoy the more personal nature of the contacts. But I guess the point I was making in my last post was that it is not from cyber terrorists that the internet is most threatened, but rather from governments shutting down access to their people. So that’s why I think the postal system would also be insecure for communications in the event of a totalitarian state arising here.

    I believe any online attack from outside the U.S., from hackers getting into the Pentagon etc. is possible but limited in effect, and more important in terms of lifting information through spying, then in shutting down internet access.

    One thing the government has been trying to do is use innovative methods of allowing hackers actually into sites, then quickly identifiying the breach and closing the hackers down by leading them down a labyrinth of seemingly interesting information that eventually trickles out. This is based on notions of “trust” in mathematical models and the realities of distributed computing — all very theoretical stuff, but something my girl was working on in graduate school. (I am not doing justice to it here, and I can’t even remember the title of her doctoral dissertation, due to its technical nature!)

    Best wishes.

    Posted by twitch | December 4, 2007, 10:27 pm
  24. Interesting post, twitch! Really interesting re allowing hackers in, then identifying them by the way they go down the primrose path, sort of.

    That is a good idea, actually, to start a blog under a completely different name with no identifiers. I’ve thought of that but figured, nah, I can’t conceal my writing style. But maybe that would actually be all right. I’ll have to consider that. It does appeal to me, I have to admit!

    Good point re communications being more likely shut down by our own government. My thought has been, if that happened and it affected the post office, hopefully by that time women would have made some sort of connections locally with one another or would know how to get to other women they had connected with via a paper newsletter.

    I can’t really conceal my identity because of my lawsuit, my former magazine, my writing. In many ways I am a public person. All I can do is be careful.

    Posted by womensspace | December 4, 2007, 11:00 pm
  25. A couple of quick thoughts:

    I’ve done the ‘new blog’ thing too many times to remember now trying to keep personal thoughts separate from family-linked sites &c, sometimes surfacing with a male identity, sometimes female.
    It’s fun, but it’s extremely difficult to keep isolated blogs truly isolated. When I started I was pretty naive internet-wise, now I know a lot more and even with that knowledge, I’m still making gaping holes in the security between blogs.

    The main ‘leaky’ areas I know about are links, internet acquaintances, writing style, sharing personal history or talking about personal interests on different blogs, themed names. Site meters (links from a private space will still show up). IP and e-mail when commenting. Temporary links, or ones posted in a public space and then made private (even if it’s a public space no-one reads) seem to be preserved forever on Technorati, and I’ve had two of my blogs compromised that way.
    Oh yeah, and then there’s commenting on a blog while you’re still logged in with another identity.

    I loved the idea of the newsletter but then thought ‘where would I hide it if I subscribed’ and hated that thought. Hated it! I shouldn’t have to feel that feminism is a clandestine interest.

    Are IRCs (International Reply Coupons) of any use to you? Until I finally get a credit card – for me, it’s only a dislike of having one that’s stopping me, but for others it may not be a possibility at all – that’s the only option I have for overseas postage. I once bought books on Amazon that I couldn’t get in this country, and the bank draft cost as much as the books did!
    The problem with IRCs is that it’s snail mail both ways (and that’s why it’s so much more fun submitting stories, articles &c by e-mail).

    It does sound like a lot of work for you, and of course, there’s keeping track of subscribers as they move – you’ve done it before, I guess, I just know that my (now-long expired) church magazine subscription stopped arriving every time I moved, until about the third time the distribution centre had been informed of my new address. Some of those are opened to return to sender; last Christmas a stranger attempted to comment on one of my ‘anonymous but open to family’ blogs with my full name and address having opened a card I’d sent out – luckily full comment moderation was on and it was never posted.

    Posted by Sophie | December 4, 2007, 11:56 pm
  26. Hey, Sophie, how do international reply coupons work? I can google them of course, but maybe you can easily explain? I hate to think of your having to hide your newsletter though!

    I am just going to take it a month at a time. Women have offered to help and I know they will. We’ll see. 🙂

    Posted by womensspace | December 5, 2007, 5:18 am
  27. Great heart,

    I’ll email you an address, and if you email me back, I’ll send you a check.

    My email heading will be “Newsletter.”

    Posted by Satsuma | December 5, 2007, 7:01 am
  28. An International Reply Coupon is usually used with writing submissions sent across borders – I asked about buying foreign stamps a couple of years ago, and it simply can’t be done.
    They’re equivalent to first class air-mail, and the person you send them to will swap them for stamps at the post office when they return your submission (I’ve got some kicking about here somewhere, if I could only find them. They allow the equivalent of an SASE to be sent internationally).

    I’ve no idea how straightforward the ‘other end’ is – though most magazine publishers will have dealt with them. It would be ideal if you could just swap a bundle of them for the relevant stamps in a single visit to a Post Office, but what little I know of red tape and mail systems suggests it may not be quite that easy.

    Hiding? In theory I don’t have to hide anything since I live alone, but I do get church visitors and if they see something they don’t approve of it can lead to some very awkward questions. So I do put feminist books &c out of sight, because it’s a ‘well-known fact’ that women who get interested in feminism lose their faith.
    And that means they have to re-double their efforts to keep you.

    Mary Muller http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/muller.html had to hide too🙂

    Posted by Sophie | December 6, 2007, 12:59 am

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