Finally, Graduated Elite! (Confirmed by @WordPress)

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Finally, Graduated Elite! (Confirmed by @WordPress)

This notification from WordPress totally caught me by surprise, and really made me Laugh Out Loud, so I just had to share. To make it even more special, I got the notification at 13:37 – leet-o-clock!
I did nothing to earn this stunning achievement – it is the gift of all the wonderful WordPress.com registered users who were so kind and generous to follow my humble blog. Thank you all so much, your collective actions helped to brighten my day!

 

The Story Behind ‘1337 Leet’

In the days of Windows 95, a group of infamous hackers named “The Dead Cow Cult” used to take remote control of Windows 95 machines. They used a nasty software package called Back Orifice, and used the network port 31337 to take over thousands of Win95 computers worldwide. Their purposeful misspelling of the world “elite” as “leet” or “1337” was a way to bypass censorship programs.

Years later, the Dead Cow Cult influence has morphed into a subculture of jargon and power user language. People who speak “leet” today are not malicious hackers. Instead leetspeak is often the trademark of serious Internet gamers and people who pride themselves on being technically savvy. About.com explains some of the leetspeak world here… 

Related terms to leet: hax0rchixor, 3ber, epeen, r0x0r. These hacker-type terms were originally purposely spelled with numbers to avoid censorship programs. Today, the numeric spelling is used as a form of subculture and expressiveness.

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Online Insecurity

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I’ve spent so much time communicating with people in locations with internet restrictions and online security issues, it’s caused me to develop a personal insecurity, so that I panic a little when online conversations end unexpectedly. For a moment, I forget that most of the time there is a perfectly rational explanation.. a technical issue, a personal emergency, a mundane interruption. In those moments, an array of increasingly dire circumstances flashes through my mind: arrest, injury, having to flee the scene. Worse.

Our strict protocol of using aliases deprives us of certainty. The uncertainty fuels us with urgency. We are stronger, more resilient, and we get things done, because we have learned to work in virtual isolation. Reunions, re-connections, are often joyful occasions, but the never-knowing permeates everything, framing snapshots of snatched conversations with shadowed corners.

At other times, I am viewing gruesome videos of bloodshed and brutality, carnage and casualties, many of them activists. An endless, bloodied, caravan of the named and the nameless, any one of them with the potential to be a dear friend and confidant. It may seem morbid, that I would volunteer to wade through miles of hideous footage, yet in some ways, it has increased my capacity for compassion: these are not necessarily the tragedies of random strangers – these people might be my contacts, my comrades. In any case, they are real, no different from me in any meaningful way. Yes, it is disturbing and distressing at times, and the grisly images take root in my brain and invade my dreams, churning them into nightmares.

The bad dreams and broken sleep returned recently, but this time, I immediately knew what to do. It wasn’t always so clear. When I started out, my emotions were scattered in all directions by the drama I was witnessing and the trauma that generated. Those of us who operate in relative safety, far from the heat of battle, often fail to retain compassion for ourselves, to nurture our bruised psyches, to seek help from each other when it gets too tough. Fortunately, I was eventually able to discover others like me, and we have gradually formed our own small networks; good reliable friends who can depend on each other for emotional support to get through the worst of it.

These relationships are almost entirely virtual, although some of us have since met each other in the real world, we all met for the first time online. Individual members of the supportive networks come and go, as time passes and circumstances change. Unsurprisingly, contact with activists in trouble spots has a more volatile nature. Some reappear months or even years later, others remain silent for the moment, our interrupted conversations hovering uncertainly between us, the dangling threads of an unfinished tapestry.

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Love and Power.. Martin Luther King

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One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.

Martin Luther King

Five Ways to Kill a Man

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There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
To the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this
Properly you require a crowd of people
Wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
To dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
Man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
Shaped and chased in a traditional way,
And attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,

At least two flags, a prince and a
Castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
Allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
A mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
Not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
More mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
And some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
Miles above your victim and dispose of him by
Pressing one small switch. All you then
Require is an ocean to separate you, two

Systems of government, a nation’s scientists,
Several factories, a psychopath and
Land that no one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
To kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
Is to see that he lives somewhere in the middle
Of the twentieth twenty-first century, and leave him there.

 

Edwin Brock