Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Violence and Disruptions

I'm a bit astonished by the presence of worries over violence as a new motif in news stories and commentary. It could be skewed by the outlets I am looking at, but after several days of (a) London (b) the BART thing (which I saw firsthand, although I was merely taking a hike on Hyde down to Civic Center and I was neither a daily commuter nor involved with the protest.) (c) Jack Cafferty talking about it, CNN being a fairly shitty news outlet and Blitzer being a fairly shitty anchor who fetishizes money, influence & power and pushes news for its impact on those people. (d) McWhorter and Loury on Bloggingheads discussing flash mobs (with the terminology reconfigured for its new sinister meaning) as well as London and other things, it seems like a lot to me.

A couple of thoughts. Strong encryption will be coming under scrutiny. I don't quite understand who wins this tug-of-war and why. Apparently the underlying technology of encryption is out of the bag and can't be stopped or blocked. That's what my friends who know more about it than I do say. If so, that's good. Except I've done other posts on my dismay at the disingenuous use of freedom as a cover for genuinely, unquestionably bad actions, like violence. I think the point that is being made by encryptors is that the debate ultimately doesn't matter - it's just going to happen and keep happening. Nobody in Anonymous seems to be interested in popularity contests. Of course, I could be buying in to a mythologizing of Anonymous as more influential and powerful than they are. Interfering with public websites is pretty unimportant. But I think anyone who encrypts is participating in a little bit of empowerment and just getting on with it. Doing something, methodically. Basically like unregulated, anarchist freedom with an impenetrable shell around it. Am I mistaken? I probably am. I'm trying to read more and break down my cartoony impressions into something more nuanced and accurate.

Well, whether or not the fightback by the authorities is irrelevant, they will try. And my worry here is the 'can't make an omelette' mentality. False positives may be hurt in the process of trying to prevent bad things from being allowed to be planned inside of encryption.

As I'm in the process of quitting Facebook, I might be using this blog as more of a home base for publishing drawings or something else. It's hard to just carry on with a middle-class lifestyle when so many fundamental assumptions are on quicksand. Of course, it's also hard to light a fire under apolitical friends who think you're exaggerating. Subway closures are concentrated in the *city*. BART police shooting someone is usually concentrated in the *city*. Out in quieter places it feels like nothing is happening. So is an urban resident going out of their way to overrepresent chaos in their life because it's titillating, or is a suburban resident putting a whitewash over how the world really is?

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