Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Generalized Rant


Welcome To The Collective

I don't usually rant anymore (although it was the original inspiration for this blog back in 2004), but this past weekend was an exceptional one, so allow me to digress.

Rant #1

So you think you are an individual?

A lot of things have been going through my head in the last few days. Most of these things are annoying me. So in an attempt to avoid scheduling a doctor visit to get a prescription for Prozac, I am just going to unload on you....my fine readers.

About a month ago, there was a syndicated anxiety story that came out of the morning news shows about how the camera in your smart phone ‘records’ the information about where the pictures were actually taken by using GPS coordinates. The worry being, that you could take a picture of your 5 year old daughter in her cute Easter Sunday dress, post it on Facebook, and that tech savvy pedophiles could determine exactly where you live so they could come and snatch your daughter off your front lawn. (can you say living in fear people?)

Now this past week, the media is all over the discovery that Android phones and iPhones have been tracking the user’s movements and they can tell where you have been for the past 3 months. (Gasp, big brother is watching!)

This all leads back the naive concept that most people believe that the Internet is this anonymous place where you can do all sorts of things and no one will ever know where you have been or what you have done. It is time to wake up and sip some Red Bull people. Technology and the Internet is the most track-able and public place every created. Anyone can track back an IP address and know where and who sent that scathing anonymous letter to your ex-spouse.

The police can subpoena any phone company and get records of who and when you talked to someone for as far back as a decade.

All newer smart phones have GPS signals that let police and the phone company know right where you are at any given time. This comes in especially handy if you call 911, since the dispatcher can send first responders right to your location, in case you are in a strange city and don’t know the cross streets for that house that is on fire.

Thank goodness those pedophiles aren’t that bright, since even an erased hard drive full of naked little boys can be restored and all those downloads from Denmark can and will be used in a court of law.

The fact is people....we are a collective. Just like that race of aliens on Star Trek called “The Borg”. Except, the Borg were a hive like race where individuals were assimilated into a collective which had no empathy or soul. What the Borg lacked was good marketing, like Verizon and ATT. If being part of the collective was super-cool with all sorts of gadgets and distractions (think Farmville and Mafia Wars), then folks would be jumping on the Borg-Wagon.

If you want to be an anonymous individual, put down your phone and live in a shack. It won’t be nearly as much fun, trust me. And even then you will be watched.

Remember that Hubble Space telescope? The telescope that peers into distance galaxies to determine the origins of the universe? Well, economies of scale state that it just isn’t practical to build only ONE of something that complex. The U.S. government built several, and launched them all secretly. Only they aren’t aimed at space, they are aimed at us. Those babies can see a dime on the ground and tell if it is heads or tails. They can also definitely tell what you are doing whenever someone in power wants to know.

The Taliban never see or hear the Predator or Global Hawk drones that fly at 10,000 feet and watch their every move. You won’t either. To say that big brother is watching us would be an understatement. We are trained to despise this invasion of our privacy, until we are lost in the wilderness or trying to find an escaped criminal on the loose in our neighborhood, and then it is OK.

The world has changed people. Adjust your thinking and stop paying attention to all the anxiety news that you see in the media. They are pandering to you because they believe you are chumps with loose change who can be talked into buying sugar water and cheap threads at Old Navy.

Rant #2

Donald Trump and the Presidency.

I don’t know if you think Mr. Trump is a savvy businessman that knows how to delegate or if he is nothing more than a flamboyant P.T. Barnum media whore. But the fact that he is thrust into the national spotlight solely on his ability to manipulate the media speaks volumes of how the concept of politics has changed.

Training and commitment to serving the public good are no longer a prerequisite. Now it is just money and the ability to project a persona in front of a camera. I personally doubt that Mr. Trump would be effective as a president, but I could be wrong. He might be our next Theodore Roosevelt in the wings, willing to walk softly and carry a big stick. I personally hope that Ivanka Trump is made press secretary...(hubba hubba, what a news conference that would make).

I just can’t help but think that the vetting process to find a national leader seems awfully bastardized if our primary criteria is how many times their face appears on a super-market tabloid that we see when we are checking out at Safeway or Piggly Wiggly. If that is the case, then Angelina Jolie has some killer chops for being Secretary of State.......(grooooowwwlll).

I have learned to strip away all of the folklore that was taught to us in social studies and high school history and get down to the real nitty-gritty of what this country was all about and how it was ‘supposed’ to be run.

The old men in white wigs back at Independence Hall in Philadelphia didn’t envision the United States as it is today. They saw it as something totally different. A few key points;

They only envisioned men voting. Women and slaves were not educated enough to be in the know about important matters.

It was assumed that only ‘landed gentry’ or ‘business owners’ would vote. Laborers, were sort of grouped together with the women and the slaves. Jefferson pushed through the whole one man one vote concept, but that was later modified by Hamilton through his argument for Federalism.

In Hamilton's argument, the populace as a whole, could give their ‘opinion’ at the polls and vote at the local level, but when it came to matters of state, ‘electors’ would be elected that would vote on their behalf and in their best interest, regardless of how the populace voted. Therefore, we live in a Republic and not a Democracy.

The founding fathers did not see the Presidency as a position of policy making. The President was set forth to do ONLY two things. He was the commander of the armies and would lead the country in war. He had the power of veto if he felt that the Congress was not acting in the best interest of the country.

Everything else in government was envisioned to be done by the Senate and House. Foreign policy, budgets, interstate commerce, weights and measures, and the creation of all laws were supposed to be overseen by congress. The current power of the presidency has ‘evolved’ over time to be a policy making wing of the government.

Franklin, Hamilton and Jefferson all saw a republic that would be represented by numerous political parties, as many as 15 or 20. Not just Democrats and Republicans. They know that discourse and compromise comes from many factions working together. When we just have two parties, it is a win / lose mentality which fosters extreme partisanship.

When a few select power brokers (the DNC and the RNC) present us with candidates for high office, the reality is that these are fabricated choices that have specific speaking points bundled together to appeal to the largest voting blocks. This in effect, means that the average voter ends up voting for the less of two evils. Not the candidate that they truly want to represent their ideals.

This is akin to being given the choice between Mussolini and Hitler. Benito is charismatic and makes the trains run on time. Adolf is a real organizer and is ruthless at getting things done. Which one do you want? If you make the stupid statement that you want neither, they are both DICTATORS!, then you are shunned for not supporting the 'American Way'. Voting for a failed system, only supports the failure of the system, it won't change anything.

Which is why, I don't really care if Mr. Trump gets into office, if he does nothing will change. It will just make for slightly better news copy, when he tells the President of France, "Nicholas, you're a cheese eating surrender monkey, Your Fired!"