Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Trust No One

July 22, 2013

I’m in the middle of a massive crafting project, and as a result, I’m re-watching all of the X-Files on Amazon Prime. As one does.

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I’m approaching season 3 now, and I’ve finally realized where that nagging “this is ridiculous” thought in the back of my head is coming from. At the end of season 1, in an episode that originally aired in 1994, government whistleblower Deep Throat dies, whispering “trust no one” to Scully. Well, duh.

The entire premise of the show is that the government lies to us. Sure, there’s aliens, but that’s an afterthought, or a metaphor, or whatever. The show is about government, truth, and lies. But in a post-Patriot Act world, none of what they’re telling us is shocking.

In 1994, Deep Throat was a tragic hero. In 2013, Edward Snowden is a traitor. Their motivations were the same, but the world that has happened in between has changed the context.

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I don’t have a strong opinion on Snowden, unlike many, many people on the internets. I do, however, feel sorry for him. Let’s take his stated motivations at face value (ignoring any potential desire for 15 minutes of fame or an inflated sense of importance): he wanted the public to know just what was going on behind closed doors.

I think he made a few assumptions that did him in.
1) The public does not care. While this is a pendulum, and I’m sure any day now there will be something horrible that the government does that will make public opinion swing back the other way, right now we still seem to be living in the shadow of terror. We’re still more than willing to look the other way while you scan our nubile young bodies at airports, and pull us out of line just because our names have middle-eastern etymologies.
2) The public already knows. Seriously, man, this is not a surprise. Of course they’re spying on us. The technology exists, and the fear I referenced above makes it the government’s right, nay, duty, to use that technology. We might have not known the details, but there is nothing shocking about the idea.

In 1994, there were a slew of people who wanted to believe, and a growing certainty that our government was carrying on some dark shenanigans behind closed doors. I was right there with them, as a moody, outcast teenager. I watched X-Files religiously, and even looked into joining the FBI so I could be behind those doors, sneaking a look at those ominous secrets.

Since then, the doors have been pried open a few times and, aside from a few squawks mostly from conspiracy theory nutjobs and the far left, they closed again without anything much changing on the other side.

There have always been shadow organizations operating outside of and around the law, but they always had a fear of the daylight. They knew that if their assassination plans reached the public, there’d be a national debate and furor. I’m terrified, more by what Snowden’s case implies than by what he actually told us. I’m terrified because I don’t see people being enraged that they lost their right to privacy, all without much discussion on the matter. It just kinda happened, and we’re all like, yeah, that sucks, but what can you do? Terrorists, you know.

(Also, I wouldn’t use this to prove a point, since it could prove equally that the dark shenanigans are working as intended or that they are completely misguided, but I find it hilarious that more toddlers killed Americans than did terrorists this year.)

I’ll leave you with another epiphany I had while re-watching: Scully and Mulder have aged remarkably well. Rawr.
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Postscript: If you speak Spanish, this is another interesting intersection of Snowden and the X-Files: this video discusses the alien secrets he released at the same time!

Hopeless

January 29, 2012

I consider myself to be pretty optimistic. Downright chipper, in general. Small and strange things amuse me vastly, I find beauty in the strangest places, and it all makes me happy.

So this post might come as something of a shocker. Part of the reason I never want kids is because I really, truly believe that it would be a disservice to them.

I’ve never been one of those, ‘oh, this world, how could you bring a child into it,’ kind of person. I’m still not. It’s a splendid world, in general, and especially so in my little pocket. I believe people are still generally good, and there’s plenty of beauty out there. I absolutely don’t fault anyone for wanting a baby to share in it. But more and more, I can’t help feeling that it’s not going to last much longer. Maybe not even for a single generation more.

*I should probably take this moment to say that I’ve been reading Collapse, by Jared Diamond, while sitting in my house being depressed by my roommate-less apartment, craiglist scammers and flakes, and catalytic converter theives.*

I’m not worried about my own lifetime; it may get a little rough, but not truly ugly. (And if it does, I’m brushing up on my apocalyptic survival skills. Just in case.) But there are so many truly, deeply, non-sustainable ways of life that are going to come to a head in the next 50 or so years… it’s scary. Yes, it’s still possible for many of the problems to be turned around (although some folks say it’s too late for climate change, which is kind of a bummer, especially for Venice and Japan), but my optimism has never extended to the general clear-headedness of the human race. We’re a stupid bunch, collectively. My guess is we’re going to foul things up way, way worse before we get inspired to do anything about it.

So no, I don’t want to introduce a kid to a world that is spiraling faster and faster out of control. Luckily, I don’t have a maternal instinct in my body, so it’s not a big sacrifice.

Of course, I might be wrong. I hope I am. I have one friend who never worried about the ozone layer, because she was sure we’d figure something out when we had to. Mars colonies. Personal ozone hats. Whatever. “Human beings are insanely inventive,” she said. “When the need is real, they’ll come up with something. There are some really, really smart people out there, and that’s what they’re there for. It’s just that they’re smart enough to work where the money is, and not that many philanthropists are funding space colony research. Not yet.”

While I do think any offspring of mine would be a survivor on a par with Max Rockatansky, I can’t help but think that sort of lawless, Sprog-avenging life is not ideal. Therefore, no cute giggling babies for me.

(I think. Never say never, you know. But I swear I’m 99% certain at this point.)

Strike! Strike!

June 22, 2011

This is terrifying.

When things got bad for workers in the past, we unionized. Labor conditions changed, and things got better.

Now, as inequalities are growing and the fatcats are getting fatter, what are we going to do? Unions have been gutted. Even if they weren’t growing more powerless, American people have been trained to fear them. Maybe even rightly so; how much power do unions have in a global economy? Where’s the union for professional consultants that work 80+ hours a week out of fear that that their firm will fire them for not having enough billable hours?

We need to collectively remember that businesses will operate the way businesses are supposed to: utilizing the least amount of resources, for the greatest amount of gain. That’s a logical thing, actually. They will almost always choose the miserable sap working himself to death over the healthy, happy, 40-hrs-a-week worker (even if studies show happy workers are harder workers).

But what’s the answer? If you do suddenly try to point out these inequalities, and stand up for yourself, your worst fears will come true; they probably will fire you and grab the next hungry fool in line. If the US tries to regulate, smaller companies will be forced to comply, but more and more companies will start moving the line to 3rd world countries.

Seriously, what’s the answer? This is not a proselytizing blog post. This a frustrated, clueless rant. It’s not goons and ginks and company finks that we need to be afraid of anymore; it’s the very real threat that a ‘strike’ of any kind will only exacerbate the divide between the top 1% and the rest of the cash-strapped masses. Yep, they can scare me.

What’s a poor union maid to do in the 21st century?