Friday, June 21, 2013

a short quiz on big brother

  1. if there were a clickbox labled "allow gov't surveillance", would you click "yes"?

  2. do you believe anyone else would click "yes"?

  3. if not, then why is there unlimited gov't surveillance?


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"better guilty than impotent"

sometimes there is no third option to use, you can't get out of a situation without making yourself look bad. so your best option is basically to take the lesser of two evils.

the catch is that the options that gives you the least problems is also the ones that makes you look like you had no idea what you are doing. so instead you make yourself look guilty in an effort to keep up your reputation.

named from the film version of the sum of all fears, where the russian president takes responsibility for a military strike done by a general acting without orders so it doesn't seem like he was incompetent.

"better guilty than impotent", tvtropes.org

this trope's been rattling around in my head since obama's chosen to vigorously defend the wholesale rifling of all domestic messages by the nsa. in "the sum of all fears" (2002), newly minted and wholly innocent russian president nemerov, after ordering the rogue generals responsible "disappeared", defiantly defends the atrocity as a legitimate response to "a nation of criminals" attacking innocent russians, in order to not appear not in control of his own military. the hero, cia analyst jack ryan, to the derision of washington's defense and intelligence chairs, correctly surmises that nemerov isn't the hardliner he pretends to be and didn't order the attack — ultimately helping both countries avoid being manipulated into global thermonuclear war.

it's difficult to reconcile a constitutional scholar and government transparency proponent defending, much less overseeing, a massive ongoing violation of the fourth amendment. but it's not hard to imagine the nsa (with profiteer booz allen) doing what they're paid to do, in secret, and in the name of the war on terror, simply deciding they could and would eavesdrop on everyone. these are not revelations of new ambitions. so we're left to scratch our heads and wonder if obama chose the lesser of two evils rather than plead ignorance and admit that our intelligence agencies are out of control. or maybe a movie is just a movie. perhaps we'll find out in fifty years or so after the papers are finally declassified (or even sooner if wikileaks or anonymous ever gets hold of them).