Government

Big Brother is YOU watching

In this guest post by TR member Todd Fluhr, he argues that George Orwell's vision of 1984 is already here. Todd believes that we are Big Brother, and we've given away freely what no government in the history of mankind has dared hope to take so completely. Do you agree?
This guest post was written by TR member Todd Fluhr.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Walt Kelly, Pogo

The very words "Big Brother" inspire fear and loathing. The mere mention of George Orwell's book 1984 evokes a future of government control through omnipresent surveillance and mental enslavement through disinformation and revisionism. It has become an ingrained part of our collective social consciousness to such a degree that even the author's name has become synonymous with totalitarian dystopia and loss of privacy. We fear the emergence of an Orwellian super-government capable of tracking our every move and controlling our thoughts and opinions.

Every day, there are new omens that "Big Brother" is ever nearer. Civil liberty groups and conspiracy theorists alike sound the alarm with each new surveillance technology, browser feature, cell phone application, or online convenience. Those who fear the future are often seen as luddites or delusional Chicken Littles shouting, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Their warnings are often met with wry amusement by the average person or raw panic by survivalists and Coast to Coast AM listeners.

Such fears seem ridiculous. Orwell's 1984 portrayed a government of pervasive, perpetual surveillance in complete control of all media and information. If Oceana were at war with Eurasia, but the next day retroactively announced that the two had always been allies, a citizen had to accept the new reality as true. To do otherwise is a Thought Crime against the government. Such is the power of absolute control of all news and information. But how could anyone honestly believe such a fantasy possible today? We have hundreds of cable television channels and news outlets to choose from. It would be impossible to control all information, wouldn't it?

According to Dr. Michio Kaku, the internet has destroyed the possibility of Orwell's cautionary tale from ever becoming a reality. If anything, we now live in a culture closer to Huxley's futurism of plentiful technology, cloning, and social hedonism. We live in a time of endless possibilities. Oh Brave New World Wide Web, that has such people on it.

But can Orwell be so easily dismissed? Does it make a difference if the average person has no access to reliable news or is inundated with so much unreliable news that it all becomes useless white noise? Does it make a difference if the population is kept docile by government drugs in the food or distracted by an opiate of MTV, Reality TV, and SUVs? Advertising, entertainment, and politics have formed a unique fusion of ratings-driven propaganda that has all but replaced news impartiality. We live in an age of misinformation and "newsertainment."

The good news is that you can stop worrying about 1984. It's not about to happen or going to happen. That's because it's already here, mixed with equal parts Brave New World and Monty Python.

The bad news is that we are Big Brother. Big Brother isn't Big Government or an illuminati conspiracy secretly controlling mankind. To paraphrase Voltaire, Big Brother did not exist so it became necessary to invent him. We did it. We the people, for the people, and of the people, have brought 1984 to life.

Today, more information is collected about you than ever before. Tomorrow, there'll be even more. Consider the information available through your credit and ATM cards alone. Where do you shop? What did you buy? Did you use a card to fill up your gas tank? Where and how much? What other purchases have you made? Movie tickets? Online shopping? Dinner out? Where did you buy your groceries, when, and which items? All of these things are available for "trending" your habits by banks, advertisers, and more. Big Brother was a mere amateur compared to today's National Security Agency and Homeland Security.

As to pervasive public surveillance, today there are cameras everywhere. There are automated traffic-ticket cameras, police cameras on street corners, even cameras in most stores, gas stations, and ATM machines. Apparently, impatient for an Oceanic camera in our living room televisions, we put them in laptops to follow us everywhere in or out of the home. But that wasn't enough. Now, people of all ages eagerly line up to buy the latest in personal surveillance, cell phones, and video cameras. The amount of personal videos shared via the internet and YouTube are truly staggering.

However, we must remember to keep these cameras trained only upon ourselves. In many states, it's illegal to video record a public police officer in any way, shape, or form. You can be arrested (and sometimes beaten) for standing in your own driveway and videotaping police across the street. There are even instances of police using Facebook to gather information on individuals with outstanding tickets. More recently, it has been revealed that police may access a person's cell phone at a routine traffic stop to review past calls and locations.

The amount of information people make free to the public is breathtakingly intimate and comprehensive. Social network sites like Facebook become open diaries for the world to read. The profile pages are preferred reading by advertisers and government agencies alike.

What about your online presence? What crumbs do your cookies leave? What IP do you access from? What sites do you visit and for how long? Who else might be looking inside your laptop? We trust search engines and browsers that collect our habits like flies trapped in a web. We create electronic trails and update our locations for anyone to see.

Let's face it. Privacy is dead. We rushed like mad lemmings over the cutting edge of a technological cliff to kill it. We've given away freely what no government in the history of mankind has dared hope to take so completely.

But we have a free press and the internet for our news. So long as we have that, then 1984 can't happen, right? Unfortunately, a government doesn't need to control all the news. It only needs to obfuscate the real news in a swamp of disinformation. Truth becomes meaningless when it's indistinguishable from advertising and entertainment.

"But wait!" some might say. "We have free speech! So long as we have that, there will be no Thought Crime in our lifetime."

We live in a culture that has re-edited Mark Twain for political correctness. Revisionism in school text books has become commonplace. People are fined or prosecuted daily, not only for physical crimes and actions, but for words and thoughts that are considered hate speech or undesirable. To acknowledge these as Thought Crimes has itself become a Thought Crime.

Big Brother has arrived - not with a bang, but with our own whimpers for more. We've bribed our browsers with cookies to lure Big Brother into our daily lives. We've paid advertisers for the privilege of being manipulated into complacency. And we've loved every minute of it.

Truthfully, there's no one to blame but ourselves. There are no dictators or conspiracies behind our beloved Big Brother, only our need to give up control and be entertained. Big Brother is here, all served up and ready on a golden platter. All we need now is a leader to accept what we're so eager to give.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

53 comments
cd003284
cd003284

From "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman "We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us." Postman's book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

Con_123456
Con_123456

Please write one more: How (not) to invite Big Brother.to you.. I'm just sad when some people need to challenge other debaters.

chuck...
chuck...

while you can still find a copy...

Regulus
Regulus

Although deep and volumous, Dan Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion series updates Orwellism to the level of our current digital age with his concepts of 'farcaster' and 'cruxiforms'. Data-gathering efforts in our current times are but precursors to these concepts.

aeiyor
aeiyor

Good Day all. Sonja Thompson / Todd Fluhr, Good Article. Yes, preliminary guidelines and methods used by certain few governing bodies are being orchestrated in such a manner to maintain control and sustain control. The factor of fear is used and can easily sway the majority. When the intelligence caliber and the foresight isn't present to further provide counter weight and measure against these activities. We are then left with the eventualities and final outcome of such actions gone amok. If you appeal to the inherent fear and mistrust people have, then its easy to divide and conquer, control and manipulate, uphold and force. BUT... the interesting thing is that these "mind games" and covert activities and actions work within certain criteria which are breaking down. The problem that these folks, who govern and control and attempt to use and abuse, have is their lacking skills and understandings that will be their own undoing. Within the given novels: 1984, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, etc.. There are governing criteria that exist which support that particular development. The systems are closed and maintain the premise to uphold the existence. Alter components of the foundation or introduce change and the structure begins to collapse. My point is that there are mitigating circumstances within our time that help support the hierarchy. Those are based on a limitless supply of resources and an agreement on a particular economic structure. These underlying principles are false. The resources we have - have limits and if we don't adjust accordingly to find alternatives our days are numbered. The economic structure within a financial base is also limited and soon the value we place on the mighty currency will mean nothing for the true basis of life is addressed in: Food, Water, Shelter. So yes as a noted commentary posted a Zeitgeist movement is a foot. There are events forthcoming which will change the playing field and existence as we know it and the curious point is what value is held in currency or control and power -- when these events unfold? Again I repeat...for any given structure, there are governing principles that maintain that. Alter and modify that and you destroy the structure. There are a few simple things that can be done by the majority of the populace such that if it was performed, could render the current system of government obsolete or ineffective. There is a power behind the majority when its aligned with a higher purpose in mind. Likewise, there is a huge weakness in the majority when its misaligned and discordant. Sincerely, Satori.

chaz15
chaz15

All of us in most Western civilizations are entirely controlled by a group of self-selected multi-millionaires. They call themselves the Rothchild Zionists, though the majority in this controlling group are not Jewish. These multi-millionaires set fiscal policy, determine major legislation, control how taxes are raised and define how information collected on individuals is used. If an individual is defined to be a nuisance, financial pressure will be brought on his/her employer surrepticiously. These multi-millionaires of course have the big corporations in their hand. Their influence extends to most big organisations including the world health organisation, who are pressured by banks to act in the interests of big pharmacy companies to deprive us of information and access to non pharmacy minerals and vitamins and natural health products. This is the tip of the iceberg, and who knows what information they intend to deprive us of, or provide falsely. I'd be MOST interested if anyone knows the extent of their involvement in sending out FALSE messages of hype concerning 'global warming' to coerce the population into accepting massive expensive eyesores such as windfarms, when we have the technology to build sustainable wood burning generators with little or no pollution! So as far as '1984' goes, we have money controlling everything, controlled itself by the Rothchilds. The Rothchilds also control information by depriving us of some information and feeding mammoth false ('SUPPOSEDLY scientifically validated') information into the system. The Rothchilds were behind 9/11. You can read more about the extent of their influence at http://www.davidicke.com/articles/political-manipulation-mainmenu-72/42734-they-dare-not-speak-its-name-rothschild-zionism Thankfully at least with the Internet, and INTELLIGENT research we can find out many things for ourselves, though I don't doubt that even Google is not beyond being manipulated by the Rothchilds!

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...and the amazing part is that soon, most people won't even care. It's my prediction that our contemporary notion of "privacy" will be obsolete in the very near future, and completely forgotten in a generation. Consider that those under 30 have grown up in a world of reality TV and YouTube, where nearly all forms of public exhibitionism is not only tolerated, but is encouraged. These kids tweet details of their daily lives that would have horrified our parents, and even install applications on their smartphones with the sole purpose of publicly announcing their activities and exact whereabouts in realtime. Who is going to care about privacy when nearly everyone purposely and literally broadcasts every detail of their lives to the entire planet already? Do you really think that these same people are going to be that concerned that their phone is sending off nearly undecipherable strings of hexadecimal code to the IP addresses of who knows who? Probably not. All they wanted was the free wallpaper or ring tone.

sboverie
sboverie

Nice article. Thank god for the Monty Python bits combined with Brave New World to make us laugh. As Robin Williams said about humor: just a little bit will keep you alive and the government hasn't figured out how to tax it. Now where did I put my Soma.

cmollerstuen
cmollerstuen

Good read. Very thought provoking. Thank you.

seanferd
seanferd

It was a vision of Then, and of Now. It is a distillation of an aspect of human government and society. There are always large groups of revisionists, loyalty testers, bad judges with agendas, and people who want authority to tell them (or the Others) what to do, think, and believe - even though many deny it. The surveillance society has been with us a long time, as has the corporate oligarchy, engineered consumerism, and the "I got mine, f___ you" attitude. Maybe it seems mor obvious now, and certainly the easy paths for these things have increased. Look past the technology, it is more a symptom than root of the problem.

mroyston
mroyston

Good Points. Gives me something to think about.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Todd has revealed some great insights into his personality, what makes him tick, in his recent posts here on Tech Republic. We can draw some conclusions already about just what kind of person Todd is, what direction his political views and philosophical ideologies might lean towards. Some very subversive thoughts going on here. I like it. :) I disagree, though, for the record. I think Corporations control Big Government. We're certainly complicit - but I also think we're largely a global society of blue-pills - for much the same reason that most of the society in Matrix were blue-pills, what is best expressed by the quote, "You want the truth? You can't HANDLE the truth!" Most people are simply not bright enough to know that they should ask questions, let alone know what questions they should ask. Without a Ralph Nadar getting the consumer public stirred up, they would have happily BBQed generations of American drivers in the backs of Pintos and paid Ford premium rates for the privilege. Most consumers are content to be lead to the next big gadget gimmick that will constantly redistribute their middle-class wealth in an endless cycle while protecting the long-term 2% of truly wealthy and power members of society. 3D TV, half-baked tablets and smart-phones that lock users into an artificial 2 year upgrade lifecycle, or other shiny baubles that illustrate that we're not so much more than easily distracted crows. We learned our lessons at the government level during the 40s, 50s and 60s, and our government is far better at monitoring and dealing with subversive voices these days. If we're going to do a blatanty and shallow character assination of an unfavorable person, we do it through a proxy nation.. Ask Julian Assange. For what it is worth, let me just reitereate that I'm a happily satisfied puppet of the global corporate state. As long as they keep me in McMansions and German sports cars, I really don't care what they do to the poor, indigenous people of... where-ever... Especially if they protect me pretty well from the anger and rage of those people. Let other people go forward and make themselves martyrs for some ideological cause. I just want my $100 blu-ray player with NetFlix and app market. Guess my vote is for apathy, after all.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I will indeed! I just hope I don't come across as a paranoid "get off the grid now and run!" kind of guy.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Brunner deserves FAR more credit that Sterling or Gibson for predicting the internet and social impact. I also recommend "The Sheep Look Up", "Jagged Orbit", and "To Stand On Zanzibar." Amazing books indeed. Far more of us here are "Shockwave Riders" than anyone realizes.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Your comments deserve a much deeper response than I currently have time for, but I have to touch upon a few points however briefly. While I do agree our current resources are limited and horribly finite, I do hold out hope for emerging technologies (nano-engineering, energy production, AI development, etc) that would be literal game changers for both our culture and ourselves. The concept of an approaching "singularity" of incredible technological capability isn't as far off as it might seem. I completely agree the world's current cultures are struggling with what they have. We will see horrible famine, war, and competition for the resources for many years to come. But things are going to change. The scary thing is that even if we develop new elegant nano-technologies or AI with unlimited potential, just such a development may destroy all society as we know it. Current economic models and manufacturing will collapse to be replaced with .... something. Traditional supply and demand will be changed into .... something else. Can a government survive a deep technological change? Or more worrisome, will less-advanced nations unite against the one who first nears the convergence singularity threshold?

SAStarling
SAStarling

The Rothschilds were behind 9/11? C'mon!

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

.... but just to add some fuel to your fire..... check out the Bilderberg group http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_Group Then, if you're feeling completely masochistic and conspiracy-inclined, look up Jesse Ventura's "Conspiracy Theory" videos on youtube, reference the "banned police state" episode and the Bilderberg episode. Enjoy.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

We have become a complacency of dunces..... Those Who Sacrifice Privacy For Convenience Deserve Neither. Man, the paraphrased witticisms just write themselves.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Actually, I don't think technology itself is the cause of the problem. The root of all this evil is money and a rush to serve the consumer, i.e. us. It would be easy to say that our phones didn't spy on us in the 1960's, or our tv's keep a record of what channels we watched, but privacy has always been a problem. The government and advertisers have always worked hard to keep up with our own need to expose ourselves in public (that doesn't sound right, does it?). My point is that we have reached a wonderful point where we have amazing things available to us, but seem shocked when someone says, "Hey, watch out, 1984 is around the corner." It's not. It's here. It's just waiting for the right Government to accept control of what we've provided through complacency. To repeat: the root of the problem is us, not the government. The problem is that we've bought a great new car with all the bells and whistles, without reading the fine print of what we've had to mortgage to get it.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I think you outlined what is wrong with America very well. People are simply too comfortable. They have what they think they need and that is all they care about. You're right about the corpratocracy too. It's hard to distinguish between the state, fed and news organizations considering much of what you know about the former comes from the latter. Who controls the present media? What gets in to the history books? Unfortunately that might be decided by a small number of extremists in Texas... What we should be discussing is what can be done to restore what made this nation great. It seems clear there is a great decline in America both socially and economically. I think that many problems could be traced to a common source. Follow the money, right? Is it the people who have money or the very ideas about money itself?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Subversive thoughts? Me? I heartily refute this assumption and protest most strongly. I wholly support our government and will rat out my friends the very first chance I get. (this statement was brought to you by the "please keep me off the government watch-list of subversives" committee) Now on to your points:* * Any opinion stated herein should be assumed as rhetorical discussion and not taken as an endorsement or statement or position of subversive anti-government beliefs. 1: Big brother, big government, or big corporation What difference does it really make if it's a government watching you, or a corporate-owned puppet government watching you? Both are bad, but most people would prefer not to have to think too hard about who's in control. Just so long as we have bread and circuses, we're happy with who's in charge. Re consumerism as an opiate for the masses and tool for class-redistribution, I couldn't agree with you more. The vast majority of the public consists of herd-mentality people happily ignorant of anything beyond their x-box or the next episode of their favorite reality TV show or mini series. Your last paragraph is what I must differ with. Any totalitarian or fascist government or police state is GREAT so long as you're part of the approved in crowd. Heck, before the hardships of war, Nazi Germany was GREAT for all the good Germans, so long as they weren't Jews or other undesirables. But step outside the norm, and you find yourself classified as less than human, or worse. I kind of like the idea of free thought and speech. I also kind of like the idea of privacy and choice. Does this make me a rabid Right Winger? Good Lord no: I think organized religion is one of the greatest evils in human history. As an agnostic, I resent religious integration with State and Federal laws. I support abortion rights and have opposed much about our last few "wars" in the Middle East. Does this make me a Left leaning person? No, as I oppose too much government spending and what I consider to be needless intrusion into people's lives. Where does that leave me? Somewhere in the middle, rejected by both sides. Oh, well, considering how both sides often behave or the kind of muddle-minded rhetoric they use, I wouldn't want to be identified as either. As Groucho said, "I would never join any group that would have me as a member."

cd003284
cd003284

You might want to look into "Amusing Ourselves to Death" before buying it - it's always been controversial. (Postman is moderately famous, so Google and Wiki will do the job.) But if it turns out that you like it, you might also want to check out "Technopoly" and "Conscientious Objections."

sboverie
sboverie

We use words like flock, herd and schools to describe groups of animals. I always thought "pride of lions" to be a weird group name. I do find your name for a group of, um, ignorant people as a complacency of dunces to be interesting. A few years ago, an co-worker postulated that the ultimate particle that makes up matter is the moron. This explains the Big Bang that started the universe. A critical mass of morons get together and something goes wrong and boom! the big bang. It is also a good reason to be nervous when congress is in session. I suppose a sub critical mass of morons could be called a complacency of dunces.

SAStarling
SAStarling

That's like saying bullets are the root of all murders. Humanity, or lack thereof, is the root of evil. Evil men will always do what evil men do, and yet the masses will always look for something else on which to blame it (bad childhood, poverty, etc.).

fo128
fo128

My rant! Money = GREED which is probably the main culprit, I agree. It makes no difference if it is Capitalism or Socialism, Fascism or ....... (fill in your preffered state), the end result will probably be the same. The humans always find a way to twist ideology to suit their greed. The problem is within us. As Spitfire_Sysop mentioned in his post - we are comfortable, comfortably numb that is (credit Pink Floyd). I also strongly agree with you (todd) about the extent religion played in the way society evolved and it's current state (controll the masses and they will sheepeshly give you any wealth they manage to acquire during their miserable hardship filled life). The concept is well explained in the Zeitgeist series. Also, many measure their well being by a monetarian standard - I have achieved and the proof is all my possesions, being it cars, villas, houses with swiming pools - the list is endless. Many fall victim to this meanigless race. They would sacrifice much just to get that new powerfull car so that when they stop next to you at the traffic light, they will be able to outpace you on green light and thus show their supremacy over you. Sadly this has become a norm, the way many measure their life's achievemnts. I believe that consumerism is the new endorphins trigger, which is craftly used concurent with religion, for control over the masses. The diminishing of our privacy further facilitates this control. And yes, we do give it away willingly, because we are under the opiate of consumerism. It (privacy) is just an aspect of the bigger game, in which money is to be made by all means possible.

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

It has been suggested by a number of studies of past empires and great societies that the life expectancy of such social constructs is on the order of half a millennium. The United States is rapidly approaching middle age. Most of us will probably be gone by the time the final collapse occurs. Our children will mostly be gone... But is there something we can do to preserve the good parts of a dysfunctional system for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? I doubt it. I, for one, am rather pleased that many of the characteristics of the life my own grandfather enjoyed are no longer part of my experience- for instance, I really, really like the idea of a flush toilet... If one is really overly concerned about being manipulated by unseen forces (government or corporate), one simply needs to make the choice to not participate. Manipulation only works when one has a population willing to be manipulated...

dcolbert
dcolbert

See... here is the problem, in my mind... We've had a good 40 years of PBS and NPR as public-funded media outlets with a well documented political and philosophical bias. As far back as the 50s you can see a left-leaning tilt in entertianment from Hollywood. The simple charm of The Andy Griffith show has a subtle subcontext about "middle America" that is not at all flattering. By the 70s these agendas were blatant in shows like All In The Family. Hollywood has been engaged in social reconstruction and re-engineering for at least 60 years, and it has had a dramatic impact on the face of our society. In the 70s they introduced America to the first wave of non-threatening African American characters on TV. By the 80s, that had turned into the Huxtables. The idea of suburban African-American families blending in so seamlessly with their white neighbors was something somewhat revolutionary when The Cosby Show first debuted. This is a formula for social engineering that you can see Hollywood embrace again and again, successfully. Education - in particular higher education, has a well documented left-leaning bias in it, one that hurts professors and students that do not fall into line of the dogma and rhetoric of the academic left. The vast majority of news outlets and employees working in media in general have a left bias. And yet mostly what we hear is people complaining about Fox News or about a fringe movement in one state to alter textbooks on scientific theory on evolution. The left has displayed a sophistication and cunningness in engaging in this social engineering over the long haul for the last 50 or 60 years that the right has simply failed to match. Those goals may be noble, they may have improved society, but the method in which they were engaged have been disingenous and dubious, at best. It is duplicitous to point out Texas right wing extremists who want to alter textbooks for their own religious agendas (which is bad), while completely ignoring larger machination that have been employed to change core opinion and belief throughout society (which is arguably worse). I'm not OK with being manipulated as a pawn by either side - but I see that one side is not only far more successful at this kind of manipulation, but far better situated to do so. Thanks, Todd, for getting this conversation going... I'll see you at Re-education Camp. :\

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I'm not sure I'd approach it as a need to "restore what made this nation great" sort of thing. That still implies restoring something / adding something to the government. I would pose it more as a "What can we do to keep our freedoms and privacy from further eroding in the name of consumerism?" The "Big Brother" problem as I see it is that we've created an environment ripe for abuse, whether that abuse is by the government, a corporation, or the stalker next door. Regardless of who is President or what party controls Congress, we need to step back and ask, "Do we really want to give up this degree of privacy and personal freedom?" And if not, what can we do to stop or fix it? I'm not saying any government or corporation is to blame (although they'd be idiots not to exploit it). I'm saying we are. And that means fixing it must be done by us. Not the government or a corporation. So how do we do that? Small things like being aware of what personal data is collected, by whom and for what reasons, and demanding an "opt out" choice. By paying attention to laws that need changing, like those allowing us to video record on-duty police officers for public oversight of their conduct. By demanding a reasonable expectation of privacy from whoever attempts to invade it. Now, on to some subversive tactics: It's impossible to hide using a credit card unless you plan to pay cash. Or buy a cash card that isn't linked to your bank account. Or "borrow" a friend's card and skew their "trending" data. Staying at a hotel: pay cash, or book several simultaneous reservations at different hotels to obfuscate which one you really visited. This is really only useful to confuse potential assassins who are looking for you. If internet privacy is important to you, check into hiding your IP when browsing. Consider special software cleaners for flash cookies and browsing history. Bear in mind most all these can be defeated and should only be considered as moderately effective against casual snoopers. Having your IP hidden won't be much help if you're trying to hack into the NSA mainframe. Be aware of what your cellphone keeps track of. If you've just left a crime scene or a secluded swamp to bury the body, odds are your location has been recorded at least to the nearest cell tower, or worst, to the GPS location. If you plan on meeting a spy to transfer state secrets, remove the battery from your cell phone before you go. Use disposable cash and carry cell phones when planning nefarious or secret meetings, but be sure not to purchase them with your credit card. Also, don't purchase more than 3 at a time or you automatically go on a Homeland Security alert list. Seriously. Need to surf web sites devoted to bomb-making and militia activists blogs or secret government UFO files? Have a spare "internet only" laptop and use it only on public networks or the open networks of people you don't like.

ssirvin
ssirvin

Oh, brother, indeed. Have you looked at the Liberterian party? (or at least what they stand for) You might find it interesting. The mob mentality we have going on these days is scary. and it plays right into the hands of the Big Brother type state.

dcolbert
dcolbert

But I often attribute it to the way my executive staff seems to feel about any IT professional who would work for my organization. Hey, no one said I agree with myself, on the last paragraph... I'm gifted with the ability of not having to agree with myself on principle to be comfortable endorsing a particular course of action, philosophy, or ideal. http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tr-out-loud/geeks-functional-deviant-behavior-and-evolution/3866?tag=mantle_skin;content If they don't know what you really think, it makes it really difficult for them to construct an accurate picture of who you are. (And your timing for this article couldn't have been better, Todd... I'll explain later).

YetAnotherBob
YetAnotherBob

The real comment that the above poster was referring to says "The love of money is the root of all evil". It is in Paul in the Bible. (1Tim. 6:10) The writer is not saying that Money is evil, Money is after all only a way of counting things. But he is saying that when things become more important than people and relationships, then people turn evil because they want the things and don't care about what happens to other people. This is an important issue to many religions, and to many philosophies. I remember that the Mormons had a problem with this early in the 1800's. They determined that the only way to make sure someone wasn't in the Church for money was to not pay them. To this day, Mormon Bishops are not paid. They are expected to work a job to support their families. That may be why they typically only serve for a few years. The Catholics hit the same solution to the same problem in the 200's. But, they do support the priests and Bishops officially with food and a place to live. A condition that has lead to numerous abuses throughout history. Somehow the church often seems to acquire expensive cars and cloths. Protestants have a never ending problem with preachers who are in it only for the money. The list is long. From Billy Sunday to Oral Roberts and Jim Baker. It goes back for centuries too. The good ones are often tainted by those who "love money more than God". Jews and others have the same problems. In many poor Islamic countries, only the rulers and the Imams are rich. Every one else is dirt poor. And how do the Buddhist and Hindu monks get so wealthy? Think about the New Age Gurus. I remember one Author who was all gung-ho on a guru, and then the Guru sued him for over a Million Dollars. It turned out that the Author had ghost written the Guru's book. Is there a pattern here?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Those Who Sacrifice Privacy For Convenience Deserve Neither.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

We live in a hyperpluralistic culture of fragmented social groups and special interest groups no longer able to come together under any unified goal except those mandated by advertisers. The only thing we as a nation can agree on is that we must have the next Apple product or next year's car.

SAStarling
SAStarling

...recently held to discuss ways to move media, social programs, and all other sorts of regulatory reform to be more to the Progressive Socialists liking?

jeromefreeman
jeromefreeman

Toffler " The acceleration of change " Good stuff from " Power Shift "!

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I would agree with your basic observation but offer one differing foundational element that changes the entire outcome. Technology has accelerated social change here in America at an almost exponential rate. Give the acceleration of change and communication, your projected time line must be revised downwards. How far it must be revised is where the debate will focus. But we no longer progress at the same rate as when the horse bit-and-harness first swept Europe with astounding speed between 3500-1400 BC. These days, cutting edge computers are obsolete almost before their warranty runs out.

YetAnotherBob
YetAnotherBob

Texas as opposed to California? They are just as doctrinaire in the rewriting of 'history', only it is a pro 'gay' and anti 'christian' sentiment. Just look for any positive parental examples in any California approved textbook. You won't find it because they don't like parents. There are enough examples of all this to go all the way around. In the News media it is astounding. PBS is truly blatant. They attack on political party continually, then complain when that party has power and cuts their budget. It was always this way though. William Randolph Hurst would fit right in today. Unfortunately, he fit right in back then too.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Or be worried that you're muscling in on my territory. For what it is worth, I'd rush into the inappropriate rant anyhow... so you've clearly got more restraint than I do. And my responses weren't aimed at you, Todd... my portion of the discussion was directed at Spitfire... but even at that, I don't necessarily disagree with anyone. Frequently I either play devil's advocate or try to prod people to take their thoughts a step further than they already are. (I find your position on creationism agreeable, by the way. I don't think it belongs in biology textbooks).

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I wasn't actually referring specifically to the debate on including creationism in schools. For the record, I feel it should be, but only in a philosophy class or comparative religions context, NOT as valid geological or a reliable source of history. I was actually taking a swipe at editing the Alamo out of certain school books or changing historical facts regarding Egyption or Greek cultures. I have a lot of political rants which I've come close to edging into here. Most are involved with technology in odd ways, but probably not appropriate over-all. All I'll say about my political diatribes is that I'm an equal opportunity offender. No cow is too sacred to milk.

dcolbert
dcolbert

You're accepting this at face value? Again, it may very well be true - but ultimately it seems that a small group of Texas conservatives influencing the distribution of text-books seems to be relatively ineffective in preventing academia from being a notoriously left-leaning institution. It doesn't even make sense. Why would right-leaning conservatives in Texas allow text-books to be sold all over the United States to talk about how products should sell for true-cost including the cost of waste byproducts and disposal to protect the envrionment? Or that talk about the simple, sustainable cultures of the hunter-gatherer tribes of the Pacific Northwest that were displaced by Westward European advancement? So many things that are radically opposed to the principles of right-leaning Texas conservatives, and the only thing they decide to make an issue over is making sure creationism, disgusied as Intelligent Design, be taught as a possible alternative to evolution and natural selection? Dig deeper.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I don't own a TV. The small group of radicals in Texas I was referring to is the Texas Board of Education. They decide what textbooks end up in public schools all across the nation. I was told it's becuase they buy the most books so they control what is in stock? Sounds fishey to me. You can google "Texas Board of Education" and you will get stuff like this: Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=1 It's been going on for a long, long time.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I find the best way to restore a sense of shame is to stone offenders to death in public. That way, the individuals in the mob who suffer poor aim and miss will be shamed by the snickers and chortles around them.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

We just have to pick our favorite source and go with it. I wish I'd known about the Wilde attribution: I love me some Wilde quotes. But anyway, the best any of us can do is just pick the best source we know and go with it. Otherwise each time we quote someone, the list of possible sources may be longer than the quote itself.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

... and a whole rant about how we the public are far better at killing free speech and questions than any Big Brother could hope to be. Just try approaching the topic about the pdf document realeased by the White House yesterday. It's not an exact copy of anything: open the pdf from the government website with Illustrator and you can see the separate layer elements and graphic design composition. Now, I'm NOT a birther and I DON'T think Obama has anything whatsoever to hide about where he was born. I believe him when he says he was born in Hawaii. So why in all that's sane and reasonable does the White House release a "true copy" of the long form birth certificate in a pdf that shows such obvious composition that any novice graphic designer could pick apart? And (this is my REAL point) this composited layered document is accepted by the public as an actual true copy of the original is silenced through ridicule and "oh that's just a birther idiot talking!". The integrity of that pdf has nothing to do with the birther argument. It's simply a nice graphic that's self-evidently not a real copy of anything. The content may be accurate, but it's not a photo or scan or print-out of the original. So.... in a true 1984 environment, we'd just accept it as real out of fear of the government coming to get us. What I propose is that we are accepting out of fear of our own fellow people and their ridicule. We are self-censoring in the name of Big Brother. It's become standard by our immersion in so much newsertainment that no one can be taken as having a legitimate non-partisan question regarding facts or truth.

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

The quote has actually been traced all the way back to Oscar Wilde, and he probably picked it up from some other undocumented source (it sounds suspiciously like something Disraeli would have said...)

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