Why I Blog, Part Seventeen in a Series

Joe Johnson, of Hedlund Oregon is going to prison day after tomorrow for filling out a comment card that said asked 'how was your flight?' - as follows :

"I thought I was going to die, we were so high up," the card said. "I thought to myself: I hope we don't crash and burn or worse yet landing in the ocean, living through it, only to be eaten by sharks, or worse yet, end up on some place like Gilligan's Island, stranded, or worse yet, be eaten by a tribe of headhunters, speaking of headhunters, why do they just eat outsiders, and not the family members? Strange ... and what if the plane ripped apart in mid-flight and we plumited (sic) to earth, landed on Gilligan's Island and then lived through it, and the only woman there was Mrs. Thurston Howell III? No Mary Anne (my favorite) no Ginger, just Lovey! If it were just her, I think I'd opt for the sharks, maybe the headhunters."

The pilot, reading the card, panicked (sp?) and returned the plane to the ground where the FBI arrested Joe, and led him off. Needless to say he was mystified.

The internet is becoming a cloud of computing - with resources, applications, and telephony now traversing centralized servers. Competing entities vie for your personal information and then buy, sell and trade the rights to invade your privacy and make your email inbox almost impossible to read under the weight of spam. And we are somehow silent when this occurs. Which is to say, apart from the whimpering sound not unlike a that of a wounded dog - that escapes us when we learn that our email inbox has been invaded, or the youtube home video we were sharing with our friends has had its soundtrack deleted.

What happens when that sphere of information - personal, credit, and professional - that you get when you 'google' someone - includes medical records as well?

Healthcare reform - the senate version of which conspicuously leaves out the ability of the Federal government to create a National Health Service - will make it so that - not unlike the daily war we wage against spam - have to fight to keep our biological information secure as well. Insurance companies that would deny you for coverage on nearly 96 different conditions will have a field day if they could access everything in your medical record and genome. They would love to do nothing more than to buy, sell and trade - your past medical history.

We had better secure the cloud. The most dangerous problem is the concept that there is only one site to do what you need to do - or one search engine, or one way to retrieve a url. A good way to think about this is to think how crazy it sounds for someone , who wishes to give you a URL - to say 'just google these keywords'. The keywords change, the search results change. And some searches in certain engines work better than others for certain kinds of Data.

Central points of control - where our documents, music, images and files - can be controlled. These sites and applications - can become a nexus of censorship. The character of the internet is essentially libertarian. The methods that are used to protect your privacy, are , as well. Despite the internet being invented by a democracy, it is a place for pioneers. And its character should remain so.

But with a people willing to rationalize throwing men like Joe Johnson in jail for filling out a joke comment card - the basic liberties essential to life are at stake. My father, whose wife has lost her breast to cancer - and in whom the franchise of being an angry young white man can hold some form of attraction as he realizes and approaches his age - plays conservative talk radio as a form of signal jamming device to block out the emotions and frustrations he feels about his life, his heart, his career, and the beard of libertarianism that republicans wear to rationalize the greatest expansion of government and intrusion into personal freedom in the history of the United States, that occurred under their watch. Not to mention the great crash of 2008 - and their opposition to healthcare. My father, as a doctor, has to hold in mind several contradictory positions - his desire to care for others in his profession and teaching, and the anti-scientific desire to be angry - to use simple facts as a form of sounding board, not unlike that of an attorney - to test the resonance of lost emotion.

As an aside, I think it has something to do with his boat. The whole gas engine thing is just dirty and lame. When we sailed the ocean, life was different. It took longer to get there. I suppose one day he will find blue water.

But in the meantime, airplanes need not turn around in midair because someone cracks a joke about Gilligan's island on a comment card. A country does not need to have a higher infant mortality rate than San Salvador, simply because they want some ill defined concept of health maintenance organizations and not a simple national health service that rewards doctors for making patients healthy. And a good man does not need to despair over his life - and accumulated wealth - simply because it does not bring him satisfaction. Like the character King Rohan, in Lord of the Rings - we can simply rise up away from those that advise us incorrectly. The truth has a way of making you free.

And free speech is an underpinning of that democratic condition. We should be aware that every thought, idea, or concept we communicate passes through the veil of censorship - first government or medium-related, then colored by our own perception.

And those who judge us by our word, should remember that word is our bond. It is all we have in the world. It may take time for the virtuous to succeed - Maximus, in the film 'Gladiator' - meanders through the desert, slave pens before reaching Rome. But when he finally makes it there, he brings Justice.

And justice is the underpinning of freedom. Free speech is a cornerstone of our society - it is the vehicle of free thought. Sensationalism, even institutionalized sensationalism breeds tyranny. It is for those freedoms and against those forces of corruption I fight. Because I have seen them decimate those near me. I blog, to add my voice to a fugue that folds within, and extends the power of - free speech. The first human right.

If you think about it, the concept that a government could rise up and take over a good people such as the German Race and convince them they're some kind of White Aryan Supermodels - and have them kill off their bankers, writers, artists and scientists - really is a pretty creepy thing to have happen at any point in history.

So. Thats why I blog. Oh yeah. And also because I love kinky sex. But thats another topic altogether, better told on long flights to Hawaii that don't have to turn around because some lamer from Oregon filled out a comment card with oblique sex references and an off-color commentary about being stranded on a desert island.


Anonymous said…
There's a book out you should read, tb. its called 'The future of the Internet, and how we can stop it.'

Think. MIT press?
This the one?