Tag Archives: cables

Letting the Cables Sleep

2013-04-25 22.32.00For years, I’ve had the habit of keeping the old cables from my past. Wires and wires, quarter-inch jacks and mini-jacks and parallel cables and VGA connectors. Later, HDMI and wifi connections replaced those early, fussily-pinned male-and-female connections with something more universal.

I’m cleaning the apartment, which seems less daunting when you hear that the space involved is probably under 300 square feet than it is when you’re trying to clean it out. The lights in here aren’t great. Most of them come from dim bulbs in age-yellowed fixtures. I’ve lived here four years and am just beginning to feel enough ownership over my abode to start putting pieces of myself into the place.

In trying to use a cheap piece of Plasticine (Copyright? Registration? TradeMark?)/leather furniture-slash-storage to its most efficient “use” I uncover a pile of old cables. It’s when I see the one from an old video capture card that I realize: how absurd, the idea these physical connectors would make their way into use in the future. Exactly once, I found myself in need of a cable I didn’t already own (and never had), and wound up paying an extortionate price for the replacement.

Earlier this year, I took a perfectly functional CD player to Goodwill because I had no practical use for a CD player. My computer houses a DVD-R drive; I strip everything I listen to to MP3 if I buy it in physical form at all, which I haven’t since I trudged the streets of Camden in search of the last British wave of music I bought into on CD.

2013-04-25 22.28.01Letting go of these cables seems impossible. But I weigh their usefulness against the space they take up and think of my roommate coming home earlier, as I was in the grip of a cleaning frenzy, asking her if I could use her hair dryer on the regular so I could throw out mine. “I’m so proud of you,” she said, because we encourage one another to be our best selves and she knows I hold on to things for way too long sometimes.

Can I let go of these old, physical connections to a past that involves a 486 on Windows 3.5; WP5.1 run in DOS, floppy disks and videotape-to-digital conversions? I used to joke that a BA in Media Studies (Video Concentration) meant I was qualified to hook up connections from one piece of equipment to another, but this physical education was quickly outpaced by the progress of ensuing years, and only part of the theory held true.

Knotted up in lengths of cables and noting the absurdity of this specialized cable [PIC], I think, this is ridiculous. This is a moment of clarity, a lesson in scaling back. Stop holding on to those things which no longer serve you.

IMAG1253

Pare down. Don’t tuck them in a bag, zipped up, smothered under fabric. Put them away, let them go.

Let the cables sleep.

music: bush – letting the cables sleep [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPelsDKEtLQ]

 

In Which I Wax Verbose on Assange, Wikileaks & More

I’ve been giving a lot of brainspace to the Assange case over the last year or two, particularly in light of PIPA/SOPA/ACTA legislation and the signing of NDAA last December, here in the US. Anyway, Julian Assange’s situation has been a long-term story which undergoes long periods of silence punctuated by short flurries of action: his escape to the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge a couple of months ago, and now the announcement by that country that they will grant his request for asylum.

There’s a huge amount of discussion taking place around these issues on the internet right now. One of the major questions relates to the charges Assange may face in Sweden, and the idea that they might be a smokescreen that leads to his being extradited to the United States, where he could face charges of espionage for his role in the leaking of diplomatic cables.

On Thursday, Ecuador announced their intention to grant Assange asylum. Saturday, the Organisation of American States made statements in support of Ecuador’s decision, while meanwhile the UK spoke about their legal obligations to Sweden and the possibility they might go into the Ecuadorian embassy without invitation and arrest Assange. Today (Sunday, EST), Assange made a statement from a balcony of the Embassy (to what I’m sure was chagrin on the part of Mitch Benn, none of the crowd members burst into “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,”).

Friday morning, when Ecuador’s announcement on Assange’s asylum was made, a friend asked me, what side was I on, anyway? Was Assange a hero or a sexual predator? We talked about it a bit and I said that at that point, it seemed like there were actually multiple issues that had become tangled up. I’ve been thinking about how to untangle them for a day or two now, and must be getting somewhere, because I finally got around to writing this blog.

 

Issues:

1. Julian Assange has been accused of rape in Sweden.

2. Julian Assange received classified information from a US military officer in the form of diplomatic cables, which he then published through his organization, Wikileaks.

3. Ecuador has agreed to give asylum to Assange, who has been sheltered in their embassy for two months. In response, the UK has suggested that it might enter the embassy without Ecuador’s invitation, which would breach both formal conventions to which the UK is a party, thus disrespecting Ecuador’s right, as a sovereign nation, to grant asylum as it sees fit.

Breakdowns/thoughts:

1. Assange is not currently (as I understand it) wanted for arrest in Sweden. He is wanted for questioning, as the authorities endeavor to determine whether or not to charge him with rape. It has been suggested that Assange is willing to return to Sweden for questioning on this case if Sweden were to give guarantees that he would not be subsequently extradited to the US for item (2). Sweden has declined to make this promise. To me, this piece of the puzzle suggests Sweden is less interested in accumulating information that could help the two women accusing Assange to find justice, and more interested in getting him back on Swedish soil. Had Sweden actually charged Assange, then I understand why a Skype call or a visit to the Embassy wouldn’t do. [EDIT: A friend pointed me to this article in the Independent, which states that under Swedish law, charges cannot be brought until a suspect is in custody; this adds a new dimension to the question, but still doesn’t explain why if Assange is only wanted for questioning, it can’t take place from the UK.] If the Swedish government hasn’t brought rape charges against Assange yet, why won’t they compromise on the location of the interview in order to get the information they need before they can decide whether charges should be brought?

2.  The cables Manning made available to Wikileaks contained sensitive information which was understandably embarrassing for several countries. Manning has been held without charges in the US for over two years, with international condemnation of the circumstances under which he is being held. Having watched the situation spinning since it started, I do not think it’s unreasonable that Assange might face retaliatory action from the US if placed in a situation where he could be extradited to the US for charges related to item (2). Again, I understand that if the US promised not to seek Assange’s extradition from Sweden on unrelated charges against him (charges related to Wikileaks’ publishing of diplomatic cables, for example, he would willingly go back to Sweden for questioning related to item (1).

3. Oh, UK. I love you, but please don’t go there. Ecuador is it’s own country, and Ecuador now has pretty much all of South America backing them up on their right to grant asylum as they see fit. I hear Russia (Russia!) even sent you a note saying they were concerned about how you might go into the Ecuadorian embassy. You threw a hissy (and rightfully so) when your embassy was disrespected in Iran last year, acknowledging the inviolate sanctity of foreign missions. You’re a member of a convention that expressly forbids barging in on somebody else’s embassy. I understand that you have a responsibility to Sweden, and think that you’re still trying to fulfill it is great, but same question here as I asked Sweden in item (2) – if you’re so concerned about the women involved in item (1) (as you should be), then why can’t you broker a situation where Assange answers the questions the Swedish police have for him within UK borders?

 

So in summary: I’m furious that Sweden and the UK are letting items (2) and (3) get in the way of resolving item (1), because the women who have accused Assange deserve closure. I think item (2) gives Assange a reasonable basis for fear of extradition, particularly based on increasingly restrictive legislation concerning expression in this country (Naomi Wolf has gone on the record stating she declined to meet with members of Occupy Wall Street because  she was, in part, concerned about prosecution under #NDAA).

Finally, item (3) is disturbing because in threatening to enter the Ecuadorian embassy, the UK has made what was a bilateral discussion between themselves and Ecuador into a larger question for the world at large. Already, South America (including Brazil) and Russia have spoken out against the idea of violating a nation’s embassy; that’s half the BRIC nations right there. (And lest we wonder where China would likely come in on this – they didn’t go into the US embassy when Chen Guangcheng was holed up there).

This is where the fiction writer in me yells, “THIS COULD GET ARCHDUKE FERDINAND UGLY!” and goes off to scribble notes for a WWIII novel.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

I expect this won’t be the last post I make on this subject, so if you have any resources or insights, please feel free to link me to them in the comments.

 

Edit: The Guardian has posted the following editorial piece regarding Assange’s statement.