Sunday, June 23, 2013

Observations 6.23

It's been a busy week and I didn't realize I hadn't posted a thing since Tuesday. I've been getting ready for a couple trips and at times lately Twitter just turns into a micro-blog for me so I start thinking in 140 character bursts. That being said I have the usual multiple posts started so maybe I'll get some finished before I leave for the shore.

Politically my immediate family is a close knit group. I always thought that was partly out of shear necessity as it was the only way we could survive get togethers with the extended family. While we disagree on some things we do agree on most and my brother and I have been known to finish each other's arguments. The recent NSA data collecting revelations changed that on at least one issue as my brother is just slightly pissed off by it all. On the other hand I find nothing surprising about it and think it's all perfectly legal under the Patriot Act anyway. As I have said the legality of it doesn't make it right, just not surprising. Why do you think the NSA was created in the first place?

A lot was made of the surge in sales of George Orwell's 1984 after The Guardian stories were printed. Somebody, I can't remember who, made a good point when they said that if an attack on the order of 9/11 ever happened in this country again 1984 would look like child's play. There is a fine line many journalists seem to miss when they are screaming about privacy. If an attack like that did happen a large majority of American's would tell the government to do anything, anything at all, to keep them safe. It's a sad fact of many American lives today that if something didn't happen to them it just doesn't matter (torture, war, being shot in school, etc.). If you don't believe that fact ask yourself how an un-winnable war could drag on for a decade with hardly any protest at all.

This (Sunday) morning news broke that Edward Snowden, to some the great American hero of the NSA story, had fled Hong Kong on a flight to Moscow as he continued his freedom loving nation tour. As you read this Snowden is probably adding the Russian chapter to his book.

While I'm on the subject of "heroes" I'll mention that a few days ago Julian Assange gave a speech to mark the one year anniversary of his seeking asylum in Ecuador's Embassy in London. I put heroes in parenthesis because I see nothing heroic about releasing documents and than running as both Assange and Snowden did. Heroic to me is a Nelson Mandela who stood his ground and went to prison for what he believed. Assange said he would consider leaving the Embassy if Sweden dropped its investigation of him, that would be the sexual assault investigation.

I really should clarify again that I don't think the data collecting is right but I see it as a fact of life now. Its a genie that's never going totally back in the bottle but needs to be contained. You can feign all the outrage you want at government spying but Facebook and Google have more information on you than the government ever will and their info is available to the highest bidder including at times the government. If you want to be outraged point it towards the large tech companies that preach privacy in public while secretly allowing all the government snooping without the slightest complaint. Also while I consider the conversation Snowden started a good and necessary thing I also think the only laws broken were done so by Snowden himself.

I hadn't planned on writing a full post on this subject but I guess I needed to let it out. Some things still can't be said in 140 characters or less.

update - This story is changing so fast I needed to update it before I even got it posted. I'm lazy at times and didn't feel like starting over. After leaving Hong Kong Snowden arrived safely in Moscow where he will spend the night before traveling on to Cuba. That last bit comes via the Los Angeles Times who quoted an anonymous Russian official, not an Anonymous official. Personally I think a quick layover in Tehran would have made Snowden's freedom loving tour complete. I have to wonder if Snowden realizes he is being used not by countries who have seen the light of freedom but by countries that are thoroughly enjoying making an ass out of his home country. That and a man, Assange, who is desperately in need of publicity.