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Lost in A**2

In "Beyond this Horizon," I think it was, Heinlein noted that an eidetic memory is only useful if you also have the ability to organise and collate the information you have memorised.

No matter how much "they" collect, no matter how many analysts "they" hire, until the analysts have time to talk to each other, "they" will always be missing a few pieces.

(As I've said before, I'm a paranoid with an inferiority complex: I'm not important enough for "them" to be out to get me. Let's keep it that way, eh?)

Mike Peterson

And, as I've said before, if I have a folder, it contains one sheet of paper with a list of far more interesting folders in which I appear as a footnote. I know those other folders exist; I don't care if mine also does. As I've said even more often before, the last scene of Raiders says it all.


I like the Groundhog Day reference - nice touch. (Raiders too.)


It really isn't that difficult to go from masses of anonymous data to specifics. It has been found that you can go from an "anonymous" list of Netflix activity to who rented what fairly easily.

Saying "Who cares if they know what I watch or read." does not refute this. Nor does it remove the need to worry about it given that lists of what people check out of the library has been used against them in the past.

Sure, a post about doing damage to the capital might get put in a big pile, but don't suddenly make a trip to the capital. Authorities will place significance to this information given one new piece of data whether it matters in reality or not.

Mike Peterson

It was never hard to tap phones, either, or to intercept mail. The issue is not whether they can do it -- I've conceded that. The issue is why they would bother to analyze YOUR data, why they would pull YOUR data out of the haymow.

As for making a trip to the capital, how about if you pop up because you are taking flight lessons and are on a list of potential terrorists and then board a plane in Boston while your data is sitting in the pile waiting to be analyzed, hmmmm?

The "if you have nothing to hide" issue is, theoretically, troubling. As I said, I'm not happy about or proud of the situation. But back when (the real) Mayor Daley's thugs were on the street, we learned to empty our pockets of things they could arrest you for before visiting Chicago, and to never jaywalk because they could stop you and hassle you for it.

This is what makes me very sympathetic to young black men who are hassled on the street, but it also makes me very unsympathetic to people who don't have the sense to accept the reality of surveillance and, while voting against it and possibly becoming an activist against it, deal with it sensibly in the meantime and not take it personally.

"Personally" is being told to assume the position, or being thrown into Cook County Jail so you can be raped all night until a judge fines you fifty bucks and lets you go the next morning.

Having someone keep a record of who you emailed is very so what in comparison.

In any case, life in a police state is like a boxing match: As the referee says at the beginning of the fight, "Protect yourself at all times." And as your manager surely ought to tell you before the bell rings, you should probably expect to get punched in the face a couple of times.

It's nothing personal; it's just business.

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