Showing posts with label Julian Assange. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julian Assange. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Free Assange now!

Click to enlarge

Richard Dawkins has just retweeted a message from WikiLeaks informing us that, as of today, the UK has spent 7 million quid of taxpayers’ dough in their attempts to foil the asylum of Julian Assange.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Marching in step

In French, the expression "noise of boots" (le bruit des bottes) evokes an obsession of Fascist dictators: the desire to transform their people into robots that march in step.


This theme of marching robots is developed in an Orwellian setting in Apple's celebrated 1984 video.


In the following fascinating video, we see a couple of dozen metronomes that start out by beating time in a totally chaotic manner. Then, they seem to get around to obeying an invisible Big Brother, and end up in unison. It appears to be mysterious, vaguely frightening... but there's an elementary scientific explanation for what has happened.


In a quite different domain, the trailer for the movie on Julian Assange is now available.


Benedict Cumberbatch's attempts at reproducing an Australian accent are quite amusing, but reasonably plausible. Meanwhile, there's an interesting interview of the real Assange:


Concerning the tribulations of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, this morning's Dilbert strip offers us an explicit allusion.


Dilbert's mum is a hilarious character. The government files "stolen" by Dilbert were in fact simply company databases generated by Dilbert's employer, which had then been ripped off stealthily by the government. So, Dilbert wasn't really stealing anything at all; he was merely recuperating data that had been created initially by his employer. To understand this setting, you need to consult the Dilbert daily strips over the last week.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our American "ally"

In my Antipodes blog, I've often expressed my consternation concerning Australia's failure to protect her citizen Julian Assange.


Besides, this disgusting subservience on the part of the land where both Assange and I happened to be born has meant that I would be ashamed, these days, to imagine ever setting foot once again on that unfriendly soil, polluted by ages of unpleasant "politics". In spite of all the blood spilt stupidly in Europe, I prefer to remain here (maybe I have no other alternative), since many of us Europeans do seem to believe in liberty, equality and fraternity... not just egotism and fake "mateship".

Today, there's another endangered whistle-blower, pursued relentlessly by the ugly police of Uncle Sam: the US citizen Edward Snowden.

— photo Reuters, Bobby Yip

It's enlightening to observe that, while the Australian nation wouldn't of course lift a little finger to protect this individual on the run (contrary to our legendary Robin Hood mentality, once expressed in the case of fleeing bushrangers), the Australian citizen Assange has been doing so, as best he can.

Meanwhile, we Europeans are totally shocked to learn that the supposedly nice black guy Barack Obama has apparently been treating us Europeans as if we were second-class citizens of the world, because he has been spying upon us, night and day.

— drawing by Hammer, Austria

Whenever we Europeans have been crying out ceaselessly for the above-mentioned great human principles of universal liberty, equality and fraternity, Obama has apparently preferred to think of us as untrustworthy foreigners.

— drawing by Schot, Netherlands

Mickey's ears say "Hear, hear..." in all the languages of Europe. And we Europeans must reply emphatically to big-eared Obama that a so-called friendly ally shouldn't treat us that way. Meanwhile, we must also do everything that's imaginable to save the soldier Snowden...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Australian expatriates in London

When I was a science student at Sydney University in the '50s, the future celebrated author Robert Hughes [1938-2012] was studying architecture. The following photo shows Hughes more or less as I remember him, physically, in those days.


Admired as an outspoken dashing dandy on the campus, he was known above all for his comic strip in the university weekly Honi Soit. The main character was a student, like Hughes, attired in a duffel coat and shoes with thick crepe soles (the winter fashion at that time). I forget the theme of Hughes's comic strips, but it was no doubt related to the major enemy of university activists at that time: the much-maligned apathy of their fellow students. The greatest insult an intellectual could hurl at other people was to describe them as zombies overcome by apathy, unconcerned by politics, society, art, sex, etc. I've often wondered if these comic strips have survived in the university archives.

It was hard to imagine that Bob might have evolved into the excruciated spectacle of Bill Leak's astounding portrait:

Robert Hughes — Nothing if not critical 2001
by Bill Leak [1956- ], National Portrait Gallery

In the wake of Hughes's death on 6 August 2012, the media have often evoked the theme of celebrated Australian expatriates in London. Besides Hughes, four inevitable names appear:

Left to right: Rolf Harris (82), Barry Humphries (78), Germaine Greer (73) and Clive James (72).

Today, I believe that Australia has a champion expatriate in London:


The audacious style in which Julian Assange addressed Britain, Sweden and the US from a pulpit above the heads of the bored bobbies—waiting like vultures on the off-chance that he might fall down into their claws—was most spectacular.

I'm trying to imagine an escape scenario that would involve Julian's getting picked up from the London rooftops by a helicopter, before being let down in a nearby London park where a waiting automobile would take him down to the East London docks, where he would board secretly a ship leaving for Ecuador....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Save Julian

As a fifth-generation Australian, whose ancestors were English or Irish, I'm disgusted to realize that our compatriot Julian Assange has been obliged, following an "Australian declaration of abandonment", to seek political asylum at the embassy of Ecuador in London.


Meanwhile, Australian authorities dare to evoke retrospectively the question of "the possibility of cancelling Mr Assange's passport'', as if a modern nation might have the option of deciding to blacklist one of her citizens and chase him into exile. Shame upon Australia!

The inspirational origins of our international English-speaking community—indeed a former empire and civilization—were largely Judeo-Christian. And one of our symbolic personages was the Wandering Jew, cursed and outcast forever.

                                   — Samuel Hirszenberg (1865-1908)

Alone, torn from his roots, Julian Assange awaits his destiny in a dull ambassadorial building in London, where the otherwise kind people don't speak the same language that kids like Julian and me used to speak Down Under. His isolation is a shame upon Australia.


In France, not so long ago, there was a great man, like Julian, named Emile Zola [1840-1902].

If you shut up truth and bury it underground, it will but grow and gather to itself such explosive power that, the day it bursts through, it will blow up everything in its way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hacking

Back in the days when I was working in the professional software domain, the term "hacking" was employed regularly in a perfectly respectable context. This metaphor evoked an axe.

Anybody who has tried to remove shrubbery, say, by hacking away at it by means of a small axe such as this knows that it can be a messy and strenuous operation, particularly if you're intent upon getting rid of the roots. In the software domain, the term "hacking" designates a trial-and-error approach to a fuzzy problem or challenge.

One of my earliest hacking tasks was carried out back in the early '80s for the French company that was starting to market Apple computers. I was given an Apple II floppy disk containing a demonstration of Microsoft's Multiplan spreadsheet application, and my task consisted of trying to transform it, as far as possible, into a French-language version. I was not provided with any explicit technical information concerning the way in which this demo disk might have been created, and how its data was structured. So, I had to work out from scratch what it was all about, and invent ways of substituting French terms for the English. It was as if I were a Sherlock Holmes investigating a crime committed in England, with the ultimate responsibility of telling French authorities what had apparently happened.

A hacking context is quite different to the standard environment in which professionals develop software. Compared with hackers, the latter folk are armed with chainsaws, which are designed to slice effortlessly through every obstacle they encounter. The gist of what I'm trying to say is that, once upon a time, the term "hacker" was used to designate a particularly bright and imaginative computer-language expert. Today, this is surely still true in the case of an exceptionally gifted guy such as Julian Assange.

And what about the individuals who operate clandestinely in the context of mysterious associations such as Anonymous and Lulzsec (which are said to be collaborating)?

Are they too exceptional individuals… in spite of their being branded as irresponsible delinquents? Personally, I have every reason to believe that they are indeed smart folk, who are perfectly aware of what they're doing, and why they're doing it. I don't believe that they're simply a bunch of dumb assholes intent upon stirring up shit. As Shakespeare put it, there's method in their madness. They're not merely breaking rules for the fun of it. They're attempting to invent new rules for societies that have discovered the immense power of computers and communication networks. For the moment, though, they are generally misunderstood by their elders, who are often still surviving in an era of antediluvian moral principles and political thinking.

Click the following photo to access an informative interview aired by ZDF Mediathek concerning the birth of political awareness back in Assange's adventurous hacking days:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Australian award for Julian Assange

The Sydney Peace Foundation, founded within the context of the University of Sydney, makes an international award known as the Sydney Peace Prize.

The City of Sydney is a major supporter of this prize, in particular at a financial level.

The gold medal of the Sydney Peace Foundation will be awarded to Julian Assange on 10 May 2011 in London. The citation is "for exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights". The director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Stuart Rees, says:
"By challenging centuries old practices of government secrecy and by championing people’s right to know, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have created the potential for a new order in journalism and in the free flow of information. Instead of demonizing an Australian citizen who has broken no law, the Australian Government must stop shoring up Washington’s efforts to behave like a totalitarian state. The treatment of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning confirms a US administration at odds with their commitment to universal human rights and intent on militaristic bullying."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Julian can go out walking

While still restrained to a certain extent (huge bail and electronic bracelet), Julian Assange will be able to go out walking in the grounds of Ellingham Hall in Bungay (Suffolk). This stately home belongs to the British TV journalist Vaughan Smith, who's a friend and supporter of Assange. Smith is the owner of London's Frontline Club, near Paddington station, whose self-proclaimed mission consists of "championing independent journalism".

Most prisons are not as nice. At present, the grounds are not quite as green, and there's snow on the lawns. In any case, Julian is a special prisoner. A sort of Count of Monte Cristo.

Strictly speaking, he's not a prisoner at all. Not even a clearly-accused suspect of anything less trifling than one-night-stands with groupies that got screwed up... Julian more so than the mindless groupies, who should be able to take better care of themselves.

I was shocked to learn that it was the British, not the Swedes, who had been determined to keep Julian Assange in jail [link]. Were Australian governmental authorities worried about this unexpected behavior on the part of our "motherland"? Well, yes, I have the impression that Kevin Rudd has been trying to do his bit (maybe a rather little bit, as a consequence of his demotion from power) to inject some clarity into this affair. Meanwhile, what is Julia Gillard doing to protect the rights of her limply-accused compatriot? I don't know. Maybe, one of these days, she'll tell us.

FOOTNOTE: Many people have confused the home of Vaughan Smith with another Ellingham Hall located at Chathill up in Northumberland. I myself made this mistake yesterday, for ten minutes or so. This other Ellingham Hall (which, I repeat, has absolutely nothing to do with the place down in Suffolk where Julian Assange is staying) is a luxurious country house located up towards the Scottish border [website], which has become a popular venue for corporate events, weddings and special occasions.