Filed under: ACLU, Amazon, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Fireworks, George Orwell, Government, Humor, movies, NPR, Paleo-Future, Politics, Predictions, Preparedness, Science Fiction, Society, Violence | Tags: 1984, ACLU, George Orwell, Guy Fawkes, humor, investments, jim downey, literature, money, movies, NPR, police, politics, predictions, protest, Science Fiction, Wikipedia, women's march
Even better, we can set up an investment fund which holds stock in companies which make yarn, knitting needles, Maalox, poster board, magic markers, etc. Just to hedge our bets, it should also look at firms which deal in security consultation, drones, police & military equipment, private prisons, and so forth. Pity there’s no way to own stock in the ACLU.
Oh, and I wish I held the copyright on 1984 …
Filed under: ACLU, Augmented Reality, BoingBoing, Book Conservation, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, General Musings, Government, movies, Privacy, Society | Tags: ACLU, blogging, BoingBoing, book conservation, bookbinding, civil liberties, Constitution, crickets, Erik Kwakkel, jim downey, Legacy Bookbindery, movies, privacy, Shakespeare
Some more ‘quick hits’ …
Here’s a very good article about the nuance of what you can/should call a book, and the sort of question I have had to dance around countless times when people have asked me what was the “oldest book” I’ve ever worked on:
The past few days I have been preoccupied with a deceptively simple question: “What is the oldest book in the world?” Having done some looking around I can now report that while somewhere on this planet, in a vault or a cupboard, lies the oldest surviving book, it is actually impossible to say which one may be branded as such. Bear with me.
* * *
A light bulb in our kitchen blew out, and needed to be replaced. Routine, except that this bulb was in a fixture on the ceiling in the part of the kitchen where the ceiling is 12′ (I live in an old house). Still, no big deal — we have a tall enough step ladder so it’s just a minor hassle.
So I set up the ladder, climbed to the fixture, new CFC bulb in hand. The fixture is one of those old kind that have been used for 50+ years, with a glass sphere hanging from a metal ring, more or less enclosing the whole thing. You back out three set-screws, drop the sphere, clean out the various small flying bugs which have gotten into it over the years, replace the bulb and then put the sphere back.
And there were some small dead flying bugs. But there were also several large crickets. Dead. And one small live one.
How the hell did they get into that fixture?
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Anyone who thinks we’re not living in a partial police state just hasn’t been paying attention. To apply William Gibson’s classic phrase in a rather darker way: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal agents wrongfully strip-searched a New Mexico woman at the El Paso border crossing, then took her to a hospital where she was forced to undergo illegal body cavity probes in an attempt to find drugs, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in El Paso said the unnamed 54-year-old U.S. citizen was “brutally” searched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in December 2012 after being selected for additional random screening at the Cordova Bridge in El Paso when a drug sniffing dog jumped on her. The woman was returning from a visit to a recently deported family friend in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, the lawsuit said.
Agents quickly stripped searched her and did cavity searches but found no evidence of drugs, court documents said. But the woman was transported in handcuffs to the University Medical Center of El Paso, the lawsuit said, where doctors subjected her to an observed bowel movement, a CT scan and other exams without a warrant.
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Enough for now, except to note that this is blog post #1,600 and we’re rapidly closing on 100,000 hits to this blog! Yay!
Have a good weekend!
Filed under: ACLU, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Government, Predictions, Privacy, Science Fiction, Society, tech, Writing stuff | Tags: civil liberties, Constitution, government, jim downey, Jonathan Turley, NSA, predictions, privacy, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, technology, writing
I’ve complained a number of times recently about how revelations of spying and other government activity from our reality keep messing up my efforts to depict a growing dystopian society in St. Cybi’s Well. It’s happened again, and I’m gonna just give up on the effort to try and stay ahead. I swear, it’s like my ideas keep bleeding over into this existence.
What am I talking about? Well, here’s a passage from what I call the “Prelude” to St. Cybi’s Well, which I wrote months ago:
He turned the hand-held on, did a quick check to make sure it had the software and apps he’d asked for. Everything was there. He’d pick up a burner phone later, and swap the SIMM card into the hand-held. He turned off the hand-held, dropped it into a special pocket inside his vest – one which was RF-blocked. He had another such compartment in his satchel. These, like the wallet/holster, were prohibited items and grounds for arrest in the States, but while they would raise an eyebrow in the UK they weren’t technically illegal.
Got it? For the world of St. Cybi’s Well it is *illegal* in the US to own a wallet or have a pocket which is hidden from government surveillance. For me, this was one way to draw a distinction between that society, and our own.
Well, guess what is in the news today:
There is a truly bizarre case out of Ohio where Norman Gurley, 30, was arrested for having a hidden compartment in his car. However, there were no drugs or guns or anything illegal in the compartment. Indeed, there was nothing illegal in the car or on Gurley. However, just have a hidden compartment in your car can now be charged as a crime in Ohio.
Filed under: ACLU, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, Government, Society, Terrorism, Travel, Writing stuff | Tags: civil liberties, Constitution, government, jim downey, NSA, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, travel, TSA, writing
I’m not sure which is more depressing: that this happened, or that I find it completely unsurprising that it happened. What’s that? This:
…a harrowing story from Aditya Mukerjee about his recent attempt to fly from New York to Los Angeles. After being pulled aside in the security line, he faced hours of interrogation by uncommunicative officials from several different agencies. When he was finally cleared, his airline, Jet Blue, wouldn’t let him on the plane anyway. When he got home, he found evidence that it had been searched.
The entire sickening story, told by the man it happened to, can be found here: Don’t Fly During Ramadan.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve almost given up even mentioning the absurdity of the TSA’s latest actions. Like the revelations about what the NSA has been doing, it seems like there is really little point in it. I just keep filing away the latest news items and go back to adjust what is included in St. Cybi’s Well. Because no matter how egregious the violations of our civil liberties, there’s always someone to come along and say that they’re happy to have the “security” which is being provided.
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, ACLU, Babylon 5, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, Emergency, General Musings, Government, Guns, J. Michael Straczynski, JMS, Mark Twain, Politics, Predictions, Preparedness, RKBA, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, Terrorism, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Boston, firearms, guns, jim downey, literature, Mark Twain, Nevil Shute, police, predictions, Roman, Rome, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, terrorism, Tom Wolfe, violence, writing
Any work of literature is, to some extent, part of the society in which it was written, and needs to be understood within that context. Whether you’re talking The Bonfire of the Vanities or On the Beach or Life on the Mississippi or just about any novel you care to name, it is, to some extent, a reflection on the culture surrounding it.
Writers react to the events around them. Even science fiction authors like yours truly. We really can’t avoid it.
I mentioned events in Boston the other day. Just a blog post. But it is some measure of what has gotten my attention. So it would be safe to assume that to some degree it will show up in St. Cybi’s Well. And it will. But perhaps not exactly as you might think.
Almost five years ago I wrote this:
This is nothing more or less than the peace of the gun. This is the abrogation of civil liberties as a solution for incompetent governance. Of course people like it – let things get bad enough that they fear for their lives more than they value their liberties, and you can get people to do almost anything.
Now, I don’t think that what happened in Boston was anything like what led to that blog post about HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. in August of 2008. In that instance, it was chronic problems with crime rather than a couple of domestic terrorists which brought about de facto martial law.
And I think that the police agencies involved in determining who was responsible for the attacks, and then seeking the suspects in a major metropolitan area did a very professional job. Just compare it to another recent dragnet and you’ll see what I mean.
But I keep coming back to that earlier blog post. Why? Because seeing a major city shut down, and then para-military operations going house to house searching for a suspect, gives me pause. I certainly can’t fault the police for taking precautions intended to protect their own lives and the lives of citizens. SWAT equipment and tactics have been shown to be very effective.
… I feel somewhat like the owner of a couple of highly trained and massive guard dogs, who has just watched those dogs chase off/control a threat. There’s a satisfaction in watching them do the task so well. But there’s also a nagging fear that maybe, just maybe, things could be bad if they ever decided that they no longer wanted to obey commands.
Nah – no need to worry. That has never happened before.