Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 19, 2013

"Collecting The Haystack" And Almightiness

The NSA will now push new internal rules to protect data it illegally collects from being accessed by its own staff. Those rules will include an additional layer of encryption, four-eyes rule for system administration and more compartmentalized access. That is fine because it will kill the NSA's productivity and effectiveness.

The NSA's says it needs all teh data it collects to find "terrorists". If one believes that the NSA genuinely wants to find terrorists one should be worried that it has chosen the wrong method for the false problem:

General Alexander spoke in defense of the N.S.A.'s surveillance programs, including its collection of a vast database of information about all phone calls made and received in the United States. “You need a haystack to find a needle,” he said
The assertion that one needs a haystack to find a needle is incredibly stupid. It assumes that there is a needle (or "terrorist"). Something neither given nor provable. Even if there were a needle how will making the haystack bigger it easier to find it? And why is the needle the danger that must be found? Edwald Snowden set the NSA's haystack on fire. Alexander now has his house burning because of the much too large haystack he accumulated.

That General Alexander comes up with such implausible assertions makes one wonder about the real motives behind the obsession with data collection. My hunch is that the only real reason behind it is "because we can".

People under total observation change their behavior and change in their characters. But total observation also changes the behavior and character of the observer. It creates fantasies of unlimited power, of almightiness and leads to total arrogance.

I believe that Alexander and the politicians' defending him show the symptoms of this disease. They assume that they are unbeatable and can act without any consequences. It is up to us to teach them that they are wrong.

 

Posted by b on July 19, 2013 at 16:15 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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"I don't think anyone who comments here fits that description. I certainly have no illusions about capitalist governments"

Actually many here do fit that description as do you Mr Berkley

Except you think another form of government will be different

"no illusions about capitalist government"

So, another form of government would be different?
Wrong.

And, Get past the evading surveillance meme, seriously.
You are limiting your own thinking, limiting your own world
I am talking about living differently, openly.
And more and more people doing so.
I left a link to an interview above
You can also check out more from Larken Rose
or Stefan Molyneux
I have referred to him previously here


Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 13:34 utc | 102

hopefully the comment with link will show up?

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 13:36 utc | 103

Mr Pragma "The majority of people *want* to be governed (to whatever degree). And *this* is a by far more important factor contributing (and explaining) the status quo than the 1%."

Yes, it is.
But, it is not so much that they want to be governed, theydemand, to be governed.
I am using demand because the masses demand to be governed.
Unwittingly perhaps, but, nonetheless by continuing to participate in the charade they are demanding their governance

I was watching the news last night, a rarity
And all these people were whining about the storm that had hit Ontario Canada
Oh my I can't get my car out for two days now because these trees are down
And they wait and whine. WAit and whine
I said to my husband, the neighbours can't get together and move the trees to clear their own driveway?
working together?
no
they wait and whine
We are throwing all this food away
The absolute waste of it all
So no one could get a generator?
Get coolers and ice?
Nope,they just wait and whine
The eternal victims waiting for 'someone' to save them

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 13:42 utc | 104

Penny, I'm not going to waste time squabbling with you. The fact is however that remarks such as this:

"...Oh my I can't get my car out for two days now because these trees are down
And they wait and whine. WAit and whine
I said to my husband, the neighbours can't get together and move the trees to clear their own driveway?"

indicate not simply the banality of your thought but a complete ignorance of reality. I, as you undoubtedly are aware, live in Ontario. I can assure you that the citizenry hereabouts are very capable of clearing up the debris from storms. Perhaps you can tell your husband that, far from waiting or whining, people take these things in their stride.

Like so many "critics of elites" you seem actually to be a know-all with an appetite for hectoring the neighbours.

"But, it is not so much that they want to be governed, they demand, to be governed.
I am using demand because the masses demand to be governed.
Unwittingly perhaps, but, nonetheless by continuing to participate in the charade they are demanding their governance..."

These are not the views of a critic of "elites": but of a nag who wishes people were as good as she is. They actually read like the premiss of an argument against democracy.
And they have no empirical basis at all.
It is you who is whining. Whining about the inadequacies of ordinary people.

"...no
they wait and whine
We are throwing all this food away
The absolute waste of it all
So no one could get a generator?
Get coolers and ice?
Nope,they just wait and whine
The eternal victims waiting for 'someone' to save them."

That just about sums you up.
It means nothing.
Even worse it has been said a million times before. And always by petit bourgeois blowhards trying to impress their betters by insulting the poor.
This is malicious gossip, designed to make others feel inadequate.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 22 2013 14:15 utc | 105

Penny, you seem to have acquired the bad habit of not spelling my name right from your friend Mosser. It's Berkeley, with three e's. But if you think it's clever to spell it wrong, and somehow conveys an impressive message of superiority and negligence and contempt, then go ahead. The readers will draw their own various conclusions. Now, without wishing to verge on rudeness, I want to draw your attention to what I can only call a touch of arrogance (doubtless inadvertent) in your remarks. You are not (as far as I know) Godlike in your omniscience. You say: "So, another form of government would be different? Wrong." I suppose this is because like all so-called 'Americans' (I prefer the form USAians, since I don't think the USA owns the continent), you have been brainwashed from infancy into the idea that you know all about governments, whether capitalist, communist, fascist, corporatist, syndicalist, or whatever, and are in a quasi-omniscient position to say what's what about them. Well, to borrow your own phraseology, "wrong". And, look, your original point was that all these dodos you think you are so superior to, go out and vote. And I said this would not apply to someone with my (non-liberal) viewpoint. But you still maintain your description was right. Again, to borrow your phraseology, "wrong". I would never for a moment imagine that the vote had any meaning whatever.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 22 2013 14:17 utc | 106

@Penny

It's not "fatalist" or "condemnation" to have a discussion about the possible downsides to using a technology.

What is fatalist is to say: "So, another form of government would be different? Wrong" What is government if it is not your example of people getting together to clear trees form each others yards? Government is not just what Mubarak making decrees in his palace, it is also the people sitting in the center of Tahrir deciding where to put the toilets and which street to take for the next march.

@Mr. Pragma

Sure: "No matter what issue one wants to discuss with the 99% out there, they usually quite soon turn away toward something that is more interesting to them, soccer, to name an example."

People don't want to spend their time thinking about governing themselves, they are happy to let others do it for them. But it must appeal to the sense of justice burning in each person or you will have a revolt or a civil war. You will move out of "watching soccer" times and into open revolt.

If you want a system of laws regarding enforcement of campaign promises, that's fine. In the 1700s people thought they came up with something with checks and balances. It's another idea to make government more accountable to the people. It's a grand idea. But the only way people have to make their desires known, get effect policies like that, is to have a revolution - to threaten their leaders. You want to codify that and that's a great but you won't ever get their without the first part: the belief (faith even) that people can differentiate between justice and injustice, and act on it.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 22 2013 14:25 utc | 107

I just want to add to this: "the belief (faith even) that people can differentiate between justice and injustice, and act on it."

The danger, as I see it with this new technology, is that it is meant to affect people's perceptions in such a drastic way as to make this impossible. Further down the road, should the blinders be lifted enough that society moves into a state of revolt, it can be used to map social reworks for their dismantling or destruction.

Snowden - and all those before him who pointed this out (though he certainly brought it mainstream) - are key because knowing we are being manipulated is, of course, a the first step in being able to combat it.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 22 2013 14:39 utc | 108

@guest77
People don't want to spend their time thinking about governing themselves

That's debatable (like most ideas).
Taking "governing" in the larger, human, sense, people are generally self-governed. They largely determine how they will spend the day, within limits of rules and job requirements placed upon them, and what they will think and say. There are many options, evidenced by the many life-forms and pursuits of humans. What a variety! Proof of self-governing.

If we take "governing" in the narrow sense of what comes out of Washington and state capitals, then most people aren't affected by it most of the time. People don't generally like to be told what to do on discretionary matters, believing as Rousseau did. They speed on highways and spit on the sidewalk.

As bloggers we are obsessed with national issues but most people aren't. They're normal. They have a low opinion of politicians, and generally disregard them. Edward Abbey captured the feeling (although as an anarchist he was a bit extreme):

No man is wise enough to be another man's master. Each man's as good as the next -- if not a damn sight better.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 22 2013 15:49 utc | 109

Penny

I'm afraid your example was a somewhat unlucky choice. While emergency services are commonly considered a part of government, they are not (they aren't governing); they are rather to be considered common and mutual services which citizens pay for.

Rather than having, say, a chainsaw and a bulldozer in every household, the emergency service system provides the needed tools - and expertise.

From what I know most people not only, and be it by mere necessity, *do* their share in cleaning up, repairing and rebuilding after natural desasters and the like but actually quite many of them come to help and assist from areas that are not even concerned.
I do not *know* that with certainty for northern america but I can't see any reason to assume that it's different there. I think it's a rather general "gene" in (most) humans.


guest77 (106)

I would love to agree but I'm afraid I can't. For a simple reason: Most people lack the neccessary know-how.
Sure, people understand that it's obviously unfair when millions can't properly feed and bring up their children while at the same time banksters receive hundreds of billions after having been to greedy.

But there's lots of issues that can't be simply judged. Many financial and tax related issues, for instance, look simple enough but actually are rather complicated with many macroeconomical side-effects.

Quite certainly not by coincidence it's those issues that most people simply want to be somehow handled. Putting it bluntly, most citizens have some kind of a consumer attitude in quite many areas of governance.

To give you just one simple (and ugly) evidence: politicians (in whose interest?) prettey everywhere spread one of the classical lies of capitalism, namely that happy and well doing entrepreneurs and shareholders" create a) tax income for the state and b) jobs.

This can be and has been proven wrong again and again, it has been shown again and again that actually beyond a certain (not even very high) point of richess these people are *damaging* the system, killing jobs and extracting money out of the loop.

So what? The vast majority of citizens swallows this bullsh*t anyway and happily votes for a thug repeating it, hoping to finally get some more jobs and a healthier state.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 22 2013 16:12 utc | 110

Bevin:

"Penny, I'm not going to waste time squabbling with you"
and yet you do

Another huge assumption on your part and you do assume so well

" I, as you undoubtedly are aware, live in Ontario"

No I was not aware. Not a clue.
Where do I live Bevin? Do you know?

"I can assure you that the citizenry hereabouts are very capable of clearing up the debris from storms"

then what were they all whining about on the tv news last night?

and then on and on and on with your judgements of me..

IMO Bevin what bothers you the most is I challenge are your dearest cherished belief systems
So you react with hostility every time, to what ever I say, rather then saying... Well that is her opinion, and that's ok with me.
But, it's not ok with you. Because it isn't your opinion.
That is how I interpret your overblown reaction to every comment I leave.
And when you aren't over reacting in a overtly hostile fashion it is passive/aggressive games and strawman

"Whining about the inadequacies of ordinary people"

The learned inadequacies Bevin. The conditioned inadequacies


Oh and Bevin, I live in Ontario, Canada.
Just an fyi

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 16:20 utc | 111

Guest 77

"What is government if it is not your example of people getting together to clear trees form each others yards?"

People getting together to clear trees has nothing to do with government. In fact cooperation amongst people is the avoidance of government

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 16:22 utc | 112

Mr Berkeley?

Just a bad habit, I am afraid. The extra E is rather uncommon, accept to yourself. I do apologize for my error .

And then, speaking of arrogance? Well I will let your above comment speak all for itself.

Ok?

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 16:27 utc | 113

Mr Pragma:

Perhaps I should have used the story in the Toronto Star this weekend about the parents who decried the alleged secrecy of the government on the status of day cares?

Isn't it up to the parents to make sure their choice of day care is appropriate for their child?
Don't parents have the most important reason to ensure their chosen day care is up to standard?
The most important reason of all being the safety and well being of their children. Of course.
And if that day care is not up to standard, does it not behoove the parents to remove their child from the situation..

The 'government' does not and will never have the same level of interest and concern about a child as the parents will


Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 16:37 utc | 114

Penny, I thought after I wrote my last comment that quite possibly you were not, as I put it, a USAian, but a canadian, like so many people here, and now you confirm it, that you are indeed Canadian (or at least, you live in Canada). But the reason I thought you were USAian was that I fancy I detect beneath your various certainties a streak, and more than a streak, of what the USAians nowadays call 'libertarianism'. And it is true that they are uniquely conditioned to this idea, originally a calvinist one, that the state is nothing but an intrusion (either feudal or socialist) upon a society which could and would otherwise organise itself naturally, and even in some peculiar sense "democratically", around the power of money. Money would replace voting as the device whereby citizens register their perfectly free choices, about everything. Literally everything. This theory, of course, lacks any sense of economic class structure and its effects; it tends to paint an idyllic but quite absurd picture of virtuous small capitalists, almost agrarian in nature, each with his little factory, virtuously employing local youths. And this is very USAian.

:-)

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 22 2013 17:01 utc | 115

then what were they all whining about on the tv news last night?

and then on and on and on with your judgements of me..
Posted by: Penny | Jul 22, 2013 12:20:27 PM | 110

So now the TV news in Ontario is so reliably truthful, un-cherry-picked and all-encompassing that one may safely mould one's perceptions around it?

(It seemed like a good idea at the time?)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 22 2013 17:14 utc | 116

Libertarians...were what people all used to be.
Though I do not consider myself a libertarian.
That is to simplistic.
I consider myself a human being. First and foremost.
Then I consider all my human roles.. next
I do not label myself nor apply any 'ism' to my person hood.
I feel the compulsion to label.. is for people who want to put everything into a box and decide if they are in or out of that box.
And then once deemed appropriately labelled something can be judged by specific set standards..
I am not attacking you, so do not take it that way...
I am observing what I have seen over a number of years that once labelled, judgement inevitably follows


I prefer to look at any, and I mean any situation without ism's.
This has caused me some discomfort in life, but, the discomfort has also resulted in growth


Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 17:39 utc | 117

Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 22, 2013 1:14:42 PM | 115

Did I say that?
Let me see, another strawman builder?

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 17:44 utc | 118

"I'll stray from the topic here long enough to state that if you're only problem with one poster's tone to another's is that the feeble, fair gender might be offended, then you are socially atavistic"

Okay, I'm socially atavistic because I think how he responds to women is probably about how he responds to everything else?
Or are you saying there are certain things, like spates of uncontrolled cursing (by the admission of his own "uncontrollable" fingers?) which if applied to women, don't indicate anything else about the person?

Another words, if a guy beats his wife, he's not a violent person until he starts beating men? Sure, okay.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 22 2013 17:54 utc | 119

Thjan again, far be it from me to criticise such a polymath. Expert on everything.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 22 2013 17:55 utc | 120

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22, 2013 1:44:32 PM | 118

9 comments out of 18?
Is that a record?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 22 2013 18:22 utc | 121

Okay, I'm socially atavistic because I think how he responds to women is probably about how he responds to everything else? Posted by: Mooser | Jul 22, 2013 1:54:43 PM | 119
I put her down when I crossed the river, are you still carrying her?

- attributed to Tanzan, Zen monk of the Meiji period, died Jul 27 1892

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 22 2013 18:41 utc | 122

Horsewhisperer?

9 comments out of 122?

Still building straw men?

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22 2013 19:26 utc | 123

@Mr. P: Well, of course I'll not pull you around to my point of view, I just would say that this: "The vast majority of citizens swallows this bullsh*t anyway and happily votes for a thug repeating it" I don't think is true.

People in the west are certainly less and less happy about the way we are being governed and the choices we are given.

@Penny: "People getting together to clear trees has nothing to do with government. In fact cooperation amongst people is the avoidance of government"

Ah then, you have a strange and different definition of government. What is government except the cooperation amongst people? Perhaps in our case it is the wrong people. Perhaps in our case it has become skewed to a small group of people... but these are people cooperating among themselves all the same.

Any complex organization requires rules of governance, and hence, government. I don't know where you live, but many people like to live in large cities. This is not possible without an extremely advanced version of your clearing trees example multiplied many times over. I suspect that even you, with all your focus on autarky and self-reliance - would have some trouble if your government were to disappear. My guess is that its formation is as natural an occurrence as language. As is the fact that the rest of us can sense when it is being unfair and unjust. Be it a small family or 7 billion of us, any interaction beneficial to two people, with all the natural rules to ensure justice accompanying it, is 'government'.

Maybe I'm wrong (I know you'll not likely agree, but perhaps others will) but you seem to separate 'the government' as some kind of extra-human entity when it is not. You seem to miss that it really all began, all those tens of thousands of years ago, when one homo sapien family got the bright idea to ask another homo sapien families to help them clear some trees.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 22 2013 19:41 utc | 124

two excellent posts Rowan (122) and guest77 (124)

now... at the risk of being called a 'thread nanny' ...
can we please get back to the focus of the thread? or, venture over to one of the two new threads?

Posted by: crone | Jul 22 2013 19:58 utc | 125

Re 124: If you start from the position of 'libertarianism', and I infer from Penny's rather strange statement "Libertarians...were what people all used to be" that she did start from there, then everything is completely inside out. 'Libertarians' are what thirty years ago were called 'anarcho-capitalists'. Their utopian society is one of small capitalists, or even self-employed capitalists, as far as possible, and the very essence, the health of it, lies in the fact that they're all competing with one another. This reflects the Calvinism of eighteenth-century colonial America: a multitude of small farmers, saddlers, printers, builders, etcetera, and no large firms, no 'industries' as we would call them now. So competition is health, it is even the guarantee of good comradeship, since no-one is allowed to be parasitic. It's a petit-bourgeois vision, certainly, because there is an underclass of day labourers, family dependents, and indigents who are not taken account of (not even regarded as worthy of the vote, as a matter of fact). There is also an overclass of english feudalists, but everybody hates them, they are the oppressors, the enemies of the utopian vision. What results from this is that 'government' with all its claims that we should all work together, rather than compete with one another, is regarded quite rightly as a hypocritical, parasitic, feudal survival that badly needs overthrowing. And 'socialism', a product of degenerate intellectuals and the expression of the underclass, the very dregs, who want to impose a tyranny over the free citizens, over the producers of all wealth and happiness... you see?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 22 2013 20:06 utc | 126

crone@125: "can we please get back to the focus of the thread? or, venture over to one of the two new threads?"

While I completely agree with your sentiment here about the interpersonal and off-topic pissing contest in progress, it does serve to generate sympathy for the plight of the poor NSA agents who have to wade through haystacks like this professionally, doesn't it?

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 23 2013 3:32 utc | 127

the plight of the poor NSA agents who have to wade through haystacks like this...
There's an app for that!

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 23 2013 4:03 utc | 128

Rowan@ 124

" I infer from Penny's rather strange statement "Libertarians...were what people all used to be"

Rowan judges a ,contrary to his beliefs, statement as "strange" Typical

I thought about your initial use of profanity towards me..
Reinforced via this last judgement of yours.

What would cause such an over reaction?
And it was a clear over reaction on your part.
Of course, cognitive dissonance comes to mind.
Cognitive dissonance due to your life long conditioning and indoctrination being challenged

According to your own words, in numerous subsequent comments.
(I do hope horsewhisperer counted them all?)

Anyway.... Your clear 'go along to get along' attitude demonstrates a wanting to maintain the status quo and a compliance with authority
Most people being indoctrinated with the early and consistent reinforcement of 'authority' always fall back on that appeal
Whereas I presented a challenge to authority.
It is therefore easier for the indoctrinated to hurl a profanity at the one perceived to be causing cognitive dissonance/discomfort.

Rather then actually ask oneself" What is it that is causing me such discomfort?" Or "Why am I over reacting in such a way that I have stooped to using profanity, being crass, towards another human being expressing their viewpoint?"

Or to actually challenge authority?
Instead lashing out at someone who has chosen differently?
The only power you had, right Rowan?
Looks that way.

You so aptly demonstrated the concept of societal conditioning as reinforcement for the maintenance of the elites in their status positioning.

Thanks for doing so

Posted by: Penny | Jul 23 2013 11:50 utc | 129

Go ahead and "rebel", Penny. You have my blessings.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 23 2013 13:18 utc | 130

OK Penny, where, in Ontario do you live?
And don't say Simcoe county, either.
Now let us devote ourselves to the matters that this site was set up to discuss. Another storm begins...

Posted by: bevin | Jul 23 2013 14:42 utc | 131

re "The Haystack", here is an interesting piece from Counterpunch today:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/23/nsa-surveillance-through-the-prism-of-political-repression/

Posted by: bevin | Jul 23 2013 15:04 utc | 132

Round 1 to the pro-snooping trogs...

US Congress rejects bid to curb PRISM spy agency program
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-25/us-house-rejects-bid-to-curb-spy-agency-data-collection/4843390

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 25 2013 14:36 utc | 133

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