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I woke up to a flurry of grumpy stuff about our government intermixed with lots of posts wishing everyone a happy 4th of July. The dissonance of it bounced around in my head for a while and – when I was on my walk with Amy and Brooks the Wonder Dog – I finally asked Amy a few questions to calibrate my reaction to some of the stuff I had read this morning.
For example, in the “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me category”, the U.S. Postal Service Is Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement. I don’t send physical mail anymore (except for the occasional post card to a friend or thank you letter) so I’m not sure I care, but then I realized all my post cards were probably being scanned into a computer somewhere and I shouldn’t be writing messages like “The NSA Is Spying On You” on my postcards (or on blog posts, for that matter.)
Then there was this awesome, long post on TechDirt by Rob Hager titled Snowden’s Constitution vs Obama’s Constitution. It does an outstanding job of explaining the Snowden situation in the context of the Fourth Amendment and the concept of reasonableness. And there are some great hidden gems in the article, such as the notion that Hong Kong is rated above the US for “rule of law” and “fairness of its judiciary system.” Oops.
“By international standards, the US and its judiciary rank below Hong Kong on a 2012-13 rule of law index . While American propagandists routinely imply that the US system is a paragon against which all others must be measured, in fact, objectively, Hong Kong ranks #8 and #9 respectively on absence of corruption and quality of its criminal justice system, well ahead of the US’s #18 and #26 rankings . The World Economic Forum – which certainly suffers no anti-US or general anti-plutocrat biases — ranks Hong Kong #12 in its 2012-13 index on judicial independence. That is substantially higher than the appallingly low US ranking of #38 on the same index, which is proportionately not that far ahead of China’s #66 ranking. If due process was his priority, Snowden was clearly no fool in choosing sanctuary in Hong Kong, though he is aware of the coercive and corrupting power that the US can and does bring to bear on virtually any country. Though China is better situated than most to resist such pressure, it appears that even China preferred not to pay the cost. Or perhaps his security could not guaranteed as effectively in Hong Kong as in Moscow, for the time being.”
“Journalism is not content. It is not a noun . It need not be a profession or an industry. It is not the province of a guild. It is not a scarcity to be controlled. It no longer happens in newsrooms. It is no longer confined to narrative form.
So then what the hell is journalism?
It is a service. It is a service whose end, again, is an informed public. For my entrepreneurial journalism students, I give them a broad umbrella of a definition: Journalism helps communities organize their knowledge so they can better organize themselves.”
After our walk Amy sent me another article about the Fourth Amendent - If PRISM Is Good Policy, Why Stop With Terrorism? that included additional applications of PRISM to child pornography, speeding, and illegal downloads.
Then I noticed my friends at Cheezburger supporting the latest Internet Defense League Standing Up for The Fourth Amendment campaign, which as a member of the Internet Defense League, I also support.
After all of this, I was able to convince Amy to go to see White House Down with me this afternoon. I love going to afternoon movies, and it’s awesome to live in a country that not only shows a movie like this, but allows it to get made!
Happy 4th of July. For all of its flaws, America is an amazing and resilient country and I’m proud to be an American.
I thought this was a powerful and clever video about the risks to the free and open Internet. It’s worth a watch with an appropriate cynical and concerned view.
I was happy to see Google launch their Take Action site last week about a Free and Open Internet. I’m a supporter and strongly encourage your support as well.
Vint Cerf (one of the actual creators of the Internet) talks more about the need to keep the Internet free and open.
If quadcopters can play a James Bond song, it’s not far fetched that tens of thousands of them could become an autonomously controlled weapon controlled by software that simulates the intelligence of weaver ants. Toss in some perfluorocarbon tracers to simulate a pheromone matrix, a bunch of guns, face recognition software, and bad guys and by page 267 about all you can say is “fuck!”
I love Daniel Suarez - I think he may be one of the best “near term science fiction writer” alive today. His previous two books – Daemon and Freedom(TM) were superb, but Kill Decision really nails it and takes you to a much more real, and completely terrifying place. He’s got new characters, better action and dialogue, deep science that is well explained, and very scary scenarios that play out in a “I can’t put this book down” way.
As I’ve said many times recently, the machines have already taken over and are just waiting patiently for us to catch up with them. I’m optimistic about the machines – they won’t emerge in a terrifying terminator future hell bent on exterminating us. Instead, we – the humans – are the problem. We’ve been trying to kill each other since the beginning of time and when the biological (in this case software based on weaver ants) merges with the machines (quadcopters with guns) bad shit happens. And once again the humans created all the bad shit.
As my first book of summer, this was a great place to start. I finished about half of it last night and Amy said I whined in the night with bad dreams, so it did it’s job. Daniel – wow – awesome.