“You think you’ve private lives, think nothing of the kind.”

It’s not as though any of this should be a surprise.  The last administration left the building with congress still voting on what it would do about all the companies that had helped it with its at-the-time unprecedented access into our personal information.  Remember the FBI wanting to know what library books we were checking out?  Yeah, like that.

The trick was always a matter of finding a processor capable of handling the load, looking for keywords and such in the billions upon billions of bytes swimming through the internet and social media.

I’ve never assumed any of these things were private.  Not telephone calls to DMs on FB.  Why?  Because I knew they had the technology and had been given the right to use it.  We didn’t fight hard enough against the warrantless searches of the Bush administration.  The law?  Well, the law can be rewritten in a moment if necessary.  Rights?  You have the right to the inside of your own head.  Yep.  That’s it.  That’s the only place you have privacy.  That and, allegedly, the marriage bed.

Is it horrifying?  Hell, yeah.  But after all the running around and shrieking is over, we need to ask ourselves.  What the fuck are they using all this data for?  Why is it that the FBI and other organizations have had to construct terror plots themselves while they miss something like the Boston Marathon bombing coming down the pike?

What the fuck is going on?  Oh, yeah… they’re listening to everyone.  They’re just not doing anything with the information.  Or are they still overwhelmed by the mountain of data, the inability to accurate sift through the myriad instances of the words “terrorism,” or “democracy” without the tried and true method of just having humans listen to or read them?

Are our deepest secrets laid bare for nothing?  For no gain at all?  We already know the companies can give away our information.  Congress said as much when this came up last time.  We let them all off the hook. So the question is now why are they giving the information away for free?  Who gains?

And who are they watching?  Social misfits?  Pro-Democracy groups?  Occupiers?  Firebaggers?  Teabaggers?  Vegans?  Pagans?  UFO freaks?  American Idol fans?  Forensic anthropologists?  Creationists?  Atheists?

With all this data mining going on, you’d think they’d be able to bust human traffickers, eh?  Catch a few more real criminals?  But they don’t seem to be great at anything, really.  And we can’t blame it all on stupid cops who’d rather beat someone half to death than actually work at solving a crime, nor the review boards that pat them on the head and send them out to do it again.

If this is a world-dominating conspiracy, folks, they’re really fucking bad at all of it.  Massive surveillance that accomplishes… nothing.  It doesn’t help the President learn about incipient scandals before the ship of state crashes into them.  It doesn’t help the military avoid getting into terribly destructive quagmires, it doesn’t help the controlling party avoid screwing the pooch, it doesn’t help the minority party avoid committing suicide.

It does, however, piss off the people.

It would be ironic if it were this, of all things, that managed to piss everyone off enough to finally truly challenge our government.  It seems to be one of the least destructive things it’s currently doing, given that it doesn’t seem to be directly harming anyone.  Indirectly, sure, but primarily because people are discovering that what they thought was private actually wasn’t.  There IS no security.

Cops in New York City deal with crime by stopping and frisking young men… getting them to reveal hidden contraband.  They’re not using this multi-billion dollar apparatus to go after the real criminals.  They’re not using this data-mining leviathan the chase the (mostly white) kingpins.

I’d hazard a guess that 80 to 90 percent of everything PRISM intercepts is functionally useless.  Information that does no one any good whatsoever.  Meaningless.  White noise.  False positives.  It would be as if the show Person of Interest turned up most of the time people who were in no danger at all.  They’d simply triggered a check routine because of unrelated activity.

People really don’t like being spied on.  Even if they are pretending they’re not aware of it.

Will anything come of this scandal?  Maybe.  But I see it as a logical expansion of what we already knew existed.

And I’m still curious what the hell they’re doing with all of this information.


Judas Priest – Electric Eye – YouTube.


I know you are, but what am I?

I landed on a conservative page the other day and started reading the comments.  There are those among them who believe that we’re the intellectually lazy and information deprived ones.  I’ll honestly admit I don’t get that.  I get my information from a hundred different sources.  Sure, there are ones to which I will not expose myself, but that only makes sense.  When a person’s profession seems to be making shit up, or being paid to disseminate what someone else made up, they’re not what I’d consider a decent source of news.  While they may accuse us of following in lockstep, I’ve seen very little evidence that this is the case.

Twelve years ago I considered myself a moderate.  I was a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment, believed government needed to be restrained, and felt willing to give newly elected George W. Bush the chance to prove himself to be worthy of his office.  As it turned out, few Republicans are worthy of their office.  Then again, I suppose even myopic, xenophobic, knee-jerking assholes deserve representation.  I just wonder if they need so much of it?  Seems like a lot of really loud assholes given free voice these days… in the so-called “liberal” media.

My wife told me that some friends had asked if I was a dyed in the wool Democrat.  I laughed at that.  I suppose it’s too much for someone to read everything I’ve written on the subject.  I am a Liberal first, a Democrat second.  I consider them the only game in town, as such things go, at least until someone shows as much tactical sense and forethought as the damn religious nuts and tea party types who hijacked a part of the Republican electoral machine and put their own maniacs in office.  The pro-business wing knows that the super-religious wing is not exactly viewed favorably, and that’s just not good for business.  People who work in a PR infected world understand how bad it is to have your brand tainted.

But the Democrats?  Near as I can tell the only serious attempt to inject new blood, a new paradigm, into the Democratic Party, is on the part of returning veterans who are pretty much saying “oh, fuck this shit.”  There’s no movement of bright young progressives ready to show the people what they’re about.  Why aren’t they trying to prove to us that we’re all far more liberal than the media suggests?  (And we may be.  But no one is really trying to do anything to prove it.)  If you want a more progressive party, why aren’t you actually moving to push them that way.  And, no, I don’t mean screaming about it, or writing scathing blog posts.  I mean putting your ass and your reputation on the line.

There are those on the left, as well as on the right, who say we need a revolution.  Sure, the left is talking peaceful, for the most part, while the right isn’t necessarily talking about going that route.  While the right suggests 2nd amendment solutions, the left continues to push for 1st amendment resolutions.  If we keep talking about it, it will get better.  And, yes, that does work over time.  Certainly the forward leaps we’ve seen in gay rights prove that, even if we do have so much farther to go.  And, frankly, I’d like to see an America where misogyny was seen as being as outrageous as racism, or homophobia is beginning to be.  Maybe it’s because we’re used to it, but our media regularly discounts the contributions or needs of women.  It should be as big a scandal to have a senate panel about women’s health composed entirely of men as it’s a scandal that the IRS allegedly targeted specific groups based on political beliefs.  (Justified or not).

I’ve found very few conservatives I would debate.  Why?  Because we don’t keep to the same rules.  My rules require personal engagement.  I don’t want to hear what someone else has to say about it,  I want to hear your thoughts… and if you agree with those people who say this or that, fine, but I want to know why.  What function of your intellect makes what they say more reasonable to you than any number of alternatives?

Yes, I know, I expect a lot.  I expect truth, I expect reason, and I damn well expect a person to have the ability to explain their own point of view.  I’m not much for shared revelation.  I don’t care if you think someone else is the messiah.  It is your perception that is of more use to me, not theirs.

Opinionated, stubborn, cantankerous, gimpy, cunning, observant, sardonic, and skeptical.  I’m also starting to bear an odd resemblance to “The Dude,” which is… interesting.


Where’s the App for that?

So… cops are beating the shit out of people, ON CAMERA, and walking around and collecting the phones “as evidence” in open defiance of the Supreme Court ruling on this very matter.  My thought is that people simply need to load and use an app that beams video directly to a specific site that specializes in trying to keep the cops in check.  It seems like a no-brainer, so maybe something like this already exists, but, if so, why don’t more people have it.  You have more chance of being severely injured or killed by a cop than by a terrorist.  And if you’re a young person of color, or disabled in some way (deaf or epileptic, for example, your disability might just kill you.

I think it’s time we do something about it.

Oh, Pat… you senile old goat, you…

Oh, Pat… you senile old goat, you…

Well, maybe you should be considering taking your doddering old ass out to Oklahoma the next time they’ve got a big storm front coming through to help the folks out with the power of your mighty prayer.  I’m sure that God’s will be swayed by your great piety and spare the folks he was so callously going to wipe out because there are bad people somewhere else.  The tell you the truth, Pat, I think you think God’s got shitty aim.  I mean, God can drop a tornado on a gay person’s HOUSE.  He doesn’t need to wipe out several blocks of a city in a backwards ass state where they don’t even LIKE gay marriage.  C’mon, give the Almighty a little more credit than that.

And, seriously, his keepers need to be fired.  Shouldn’t SOMEONE’S job be to make sure some of Pat’s more serious episodes don’t make it into the public awareness.  I mean, he still generates some money from some really withered old prunes out there whose last breaths are spent worrying about something that was never any kind of threat to them in the first place, but, hey, at least he’s useful to SOMEONE.