Archive for January, 2011

Egypt <>= America?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

How would we fair in a situation of civil unrest?  

   Recent news of Egypt’s shutdown of the internet as its people crowd the streets in protest of the Mubarak regime, has left me with a few questions.   Unfortunately, I found some answers.

   First let me voice my support for the people of Egypt, (stand and applaud).  Stay strong, stay loud, and may your find a peaceful resolution.    If a peaceful resolution isn’t possible, may your armed revolution be swift and precise…  only if necessary, of course.

   Secondly, Egypt’s actions thus far shouldn’t have surprised anyone, and with any dictatorship you have to expect the actions in this order. 

  1. Try not to kill anyone at first.  Hope the turnout is small and they just go away.
  2. Tighten security forces grip on the situation, arrest a few, pack some into buses and drop them off miles away, and make them walk back.
  3. “Accidentally” kill a few protestors.  Hope that this breaks up the protests momentum.  Globally apologize, “Oops, sorry.  Don’t worry everything is fine here.”
  4. Root out opposition leaders, apply strong arm tactics to family members.
  5. Seize control of all communications, shut down borders.  No news in, no news out.  Turn off the internet!!!!!  (Usually followed by a foreign evacuation alert.)
  6. Once all information is controlled, begin mass arrests, kill anyone that resists or could be considered a threat to the regime.  This should scare the rest of the people back into their homes.
  7. Put on a happy face and begin a public relations spin fest.  Smile a lot and lie.  This must be done quickly, as a news blackout lasting longer than 4 days draws more attention, and becomes more difficult to maintain (see Tor).   Be sure to higher loyalists to give watered-down accounts of what happened during the blackout.

 

   So, how would we fare in a time of civil unrest?   That is of course, if Americans could stop watching mindless TV for more than an hour and pay attention to what was going on around them.   I can’t say we’d fare much better actually.   I know people think there’s no way our government could stop the flow of information and freedom of speech, but I think you’ll need to take a closer look.    While sifting through some security legislation currently up for review, I came across a story on BoingBoing about this: The PCNAA (Protection Cyberspace as a National Asset Act).   This little unannounced bit if legislation gives our government the ability to completely cut off the countries internet.   A lot of people still seem to think that this sort of thing wouldn’t or couldn’t happen here.   I’m here to tell you, not only could it happen, but if we found ourselves in the middle of an Egyptian style uprising, it WOULD happen.

 

   Diving into the bill, it’s important to note that the wording is meant to focus on, “in the event of a cyber attack”, but I don’t want anyone to be fooled.   This bill gives the government unprecedented power over the flow of information in any circumstance it deems necessary.   The bill uses some terms and definitions of the Patriot Act as to what “National Security Threat” means and how it is to be handled.

 

   Of course all this ever coming to pass is a total long shot.   I mean, it would require Americans to pay attention, and even worse… Become active participants in the shaping of their government.   Or dare I say…  Activists.   No, I think we’re safe.   Our government could pretty much put us in pods and harvest our elderly for food before we’d even ask a single question.   Even then, I think they’d just change the channel on our personal iPad, and we’d go, “Oh, it’s ‘Angry Birds’, I love this game…”  

 

We are sheep to the slaughter.   Heh, heh, huuuugh….   (sigh of sadness)

Gerryrigging your vote.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

   Gerrymandering.   If the term is new to you, you should probably get to know it.   It’s probably new to a lot of people.   I know I had heard it before, and even generally knew what it was, but I had no idea how much of an epidemic it truly was, until I read this article by Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel.   Even though I voted in favor of creating fair districts in the last election, I’m embarrassed that I’ve not paid more attention to it in the past.

   For those unfamiliar to Gerrymandering, I’ll try to explain it as best I can.    Gerrymandering is the creation of public voting districts that favor political parties rather than regional and geographical location.   For example; a district could be created by the republicans that was made up of mostly republican voters regardless of geographical location.   I know for a fact that the district I vote in is partly here… and there’s another part almost 100 miles away.   And apparently there’s a shitload of Republican voters in it. 

 

   This is not just a republican issue, both parties do it.   The problem is this.   We the voters are the big losers here.   The politicians are the ones that create the districts, and they do this so they can stay in office.    Think about it.   If you’re a Republican/Democrat and your district is tailored to you, the chance of you losing your seat is considerably less,  than if your district was fair.   As we all know, a politician that isn’t in fear for his job, is a VERY corruptible entity indeed.   No checks and balances, no need to do the peoples will, it’s basic math.   As I mentioned, this isn’t a Republican problem, both parties do this.

   So, get involved.   Check out your voting district and write your representative demanding fair districts in your state.   If we let the politicians get away with anything, they’ll get away with everything.

SIDE NOTE:

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

   I’ve had a lot of time to think about the events surrounding the Tucson shooting.   As much as I’d like to point the finger at harsh rhetoric and even Sara Palin’s “cross hairs” website…   I can’t.   We have to be careful whenever we start associating the acts of one person with the words of people we don’t like.   Jared Loughner was a sick man.   That’s all there is to it.   If we start blaming words that another person said, or images that were on a site, then we start slipping down a very slippery slope of censorship that ends in the loss of our freedom of speech.

   We’ve already been through all this before in the late 80’s when rock bands came under heavy fire for their lyrics in connection to youth suicides.  I hate to say it, but Sara Palin is no more responsible for the actions of a psycho, than Ozzy is for the suicide of a disturbed young fan.

   And, I shouldn’t have to put up a disclaimer on my blog.

 

 

That being said.

There is a certain amount of power that words hold.   They do move people, and sometimes words are used to motivate people into action…    So what are the responsibilities of writer?    Or even better, someone who gives a speech to an angry mob?    Sometimes a calming word can soothe the savage beast, while at other times, a harsh tone can spark a riot.   Who is to blame if things get out of hand, the vocalist, or the mob that follows their screaming rant?   Are we humans no better than the environment we exist in?   Is freedom of choice lost in a turbulent wind of public expression?   Perhaps it’s a chemical reaction?   And how does this affect everything I’ve written above?                  …I don’t know.