News PM Punch — ‘Almost Orwellian Technology’

December 16, 2013

newsmanClear with bright sunshine and much-warmer temperatures this afternoon on California’s north coast, the best day we’ve had in a while.
We’re at 53 degrees right now, with a high earlier of 59 — rain is expected by Wednesday, but who really knows?

Early this morning a shitty episode — some asshole pilfered the radio out of my Jeep Comanche, but worse, the shithead in his idiot, rummaging thievery, allowed the battery to go dead.

Although there’s nothing of any value in the truck, the thief most-likely dug around in the glove compartment looking for anything, and the little dash radio he snagged was cheap, apparently useless without speakers, and dumb-to-take, unless you’re desperate, I guess.
The glove compartment has a tiny, little light, which like a refrigerator light, goes out when the door is closed. When I climbed into the Jeep before dawn this morning, for the first ever, the lid to the compartment was open, and the tiny, little light was on, stared at me.
And near-immediately, an intuitive mental jolt. No! The battery!
Yet sure enough, a turn of the ignition, one click and that was it. The little light had drained the juice. I had to walk to the store, but it’s not far. A co-worker owns one of those portable starter devices, similar to a jump from another vehicle, but only with this, it comes from a compact, generator-looking thingy. I borrowed it a few minutes, and got the Jeep running again.
All’s well, that end’s this day well — I’ll know before dawn in the morning whether the battery can hold the charge.
But that’s tomorrow.

Meanwhile, seemingly the big news in the cycle this afternoon again concerns the NSA — news hogs they’ve become the last six months. The latest episode: A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance program that collects millions of Americans’ telephone records may be unconstitutional.
And for the first time, the icon of the surveillance state has bubbled to the surface, via Federal District Judge Richard Leon (via the BBC):

In his ruling in a Washington DC federal court on Monday, Mr Leon called the NSA’s surveillance programme “indiscriminate” and an “almost Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States.”

Leon also issued a preliminary injunction against the NSA, but suspended it in order to give the Justice Department time to appeal — so the program continues.

Related, too, was another item about Eddie Snowden himself, not just his handiwork.
Also from the same BBC story:

Earlier on Monday, the White House rejected the suggestion that Mr Snowden be granted amnesty, a day after a top NSA official publicly suggested a deal could be reached to keep Mr Snowden from leaking more documents.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US government continued to press Russia — where Mr Snowden has been granted asylum — to return him to the US.
“There’s been no change in our position,” he told reporters.
“He faces felony charges here, he ought to be returned to the United States, again, where he will face full due process and protection under our system of justice, that we hope he will avail himself of.”
On Sunday, Richard Ledgett, head of the NSA’s task force investigating damage from Mr Snowden’s leaks, discussed the possibility of an amnesty deal on the US television channel CBS.
“My personal view is, yes it’s worth having a conversation about,” he said.

Mr Carney said on Monday that the proposal represented Mr Ledgett’s “personal opinion” and such decisions were ultimately made by the Department of Justice.

And the never-ending saga is nuts — on Saturday, the New York Times reported the NSA is clueless to how much shit Snowden took, and what kinds of shit he has on hand. Despite the science-fiction technology: “They’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours trying to reconstruct everything he has gotten, and they still don’t know all of what he took,” a senior administration official said. “I know that seems crazy, but everything with this is crazy.”

Dude, the whole world is crazy.
And Snowden is not only the actual guy of the hour, he also might be part of the “word” of the hour.
From the Guardian yesterday:

Once a slur reserved for eggheads and an insult aimed at lovers of computer programming, geek has been deemed the word of the year by the Collins online dictionary.
Less brazen than selfie — which topped the Oxford Dictionaries poll last month — geek was chosen as a reminder of how an insult can be transformed into a badge of honour, according to Collins.
In September the dictionary changed the main definition of geek from someone preoccupied with computing to “a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a specific subject”, adding geekery, geek chic and geekdom to the fold.

Right now, it’s getting dark on the edge of the western US, so up for supper, then down for bed. First, though, some more vintage Scully and Mulder on Netflix — what a great show it was, reminds me of the old “Twilight Zone” series in its hey-day.

(Illustration above found here).

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