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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. It seems like quite a while since December 18th, back when it was pretty much just Noah Shachtman, Laura Rozen, and me, saying this wasn't just "wiretapping," and that that much more radical technology was almost surely involved.
Ah, for the dear old days of January 28th, when Kevin Drum, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Yglesias, and so many others, were cheerfully taking General Hayden's word that "U.S. persons" weren't "focused upon," and that, to quote Kevin, "General Hayden's admission today that the NSA's domestic spying program isn't some kind of dazzling high tech black op, but merely garden variety wiretapping," and I was a nutbar radical for insisting Kevin, Glenn, Matt, and the rest, were being wildly naive and wrong.
Contrary to the excuse offered up by Bush followers that this illegal eavesdropping was all necessitated by some sort of super-complex data mining method which rendered FISA an obsolete relic, Gen. Hayden made clear that this is not the case. Bush's eavesdropping program entailed garden-variety eavesdropping on telephone conversations - not some new technologically advanced data mining program.
The key point is that we know that this wasn't some novel technology but garden-variety wiretapping [....]
Ah, those were the days.
Not going to hold my breath waiting for anyone involved to mention me, or the e-mails I sent them at the time, though. Kevin and I even went several (friendly and polite) rounds in e-mail, and he maintained that he didn't see that he'd missed anything. Oh, well, they all do great jobs, anyway, even if they all wildly dropped the ball here. Certainly much better jobs than I've been managing to do of late. (I plead crap health and circumstances, darn it.)
ADDENDUM, 1:12 p.m.: I was thinking it was obvious, but realized it was not, that anyone who thinks "this is just a databank of phone numbers, unconnected to names or other information," and doesn't think the NSA isn't also working with the info in every other commercial and public data-mining databank out there that they can get their paws on, "connecting all the dots," is still being completely naive, and will be proven as wrong as those who denied that this was going on, I believe.
"Connecting the dots" is their job. And the more info, the better. And same rationale: this is public info. If your credit bureau has it, why shouldn't your government? It's to protect us all. Where's the harm? It's all good. Trust The Government.
Also, I have whiplash from how quickly we've moved from almost-yesterday when Republicans (and some Democrats) went nuts over even the possibility of a National ID Card as an invasion of privacy. (I'm tempted to digress into the history of the Social Security Act, and how all involved in Congress and the FDR Administration assured the American public that the Act forbade that the number would never, ever, ever, be used for identification purposes, or in any other context than Social Security. Ever.)
Similarly, the nonsense they're putting out now about how it's just phone records, without names attached, is inane. Ever heard of a phone book? [Or a reverse phone book?]
And as I've said many times, anyone who thinks that the NSA isn't also making use of every commercial data-mining databank out there, credit cards, bank records, utilities, everything, and correlating it all, is incredibly naive.
But we'll have to wait for that, too, to be leaked, and then people will be further shocked, shocked at that.
Count on it. Just like I knew this was going to, sooner or later, come out, and there would be tons of attention, finally.
I don't understand why you view data mining as equally or more alarming than "garden variety wiretapping". And I have read your prior posts, I just don't understand. I think James Joyner's take is pretty reasonable.
"...data mining as equally or more alarming than 'garden variety wiretapping'."
I don't. I regard the full package, in context, as alarming, and as clearly illegal.
As Matt succinctly put it: "One thing the Bush administration says it can do with this meta-data is to start tapping your calls and listening in, without getting a warrant from anyone. Having listened in on your calls, the administration asserts that if it doesn't like what it hears, it has the authority to detain you indefinitely without trial or charges, torture you until you confess or implicate others, extradite you to a Third World country to be tortured, ship you to a secret prison facility in Eastern Europe, or all of the above. If, having kidnapped and tortured you, the administration determines you were innocent after all, you'll be dumped without papers somewhere in Albania left to fend for yourself.
Once you start in with this business, it's a widening cycle of lawlessness with almost endless possibilities for abuse."
President Bush draws no boundaries for himself, in any area. Neither courts nor Congress have, in his practice and view, any reasonable say over anything he can claim is related to national security. The bill of particulars against him at this point on his belief in presidential power as being near-imperial is as lengthy as the Declaration of Independence was. And his administration has the ethics of Karl Rove.
In toto, I find it difficult to find this package comforting. Neither would I think any Republican or conservative would appreciate the precedent and heritage to be left for a future left-wing or at least Democratic President of whom they have doubts and a lack of full trust and comfort. Many were once alarmed at Waco and Elian Gonzalez: will they take comfort in a future Democratic President citing all the Bush precedents?
On second thought, I need to clarify, since I've said in the past that the then-emerging details on the "Program" were more alarming than garden-variety wiretapping.
The distinction I'm making is between sweep and application to an individual. To any given individual, if you're being wire-tapped, you're being wire-tapped.
But 30 years ago, that was something done on an individual basis, and only to a few hundred across the nation, and those almost entirely on criminal investigations.
Whereas when the records of every American are being compiled, and hundreds of millions of people, potentially and desirably all of us, are swept up, well, so long as it's just one form of records, that's the mildest possible form of total surveillance, but totalitarian is an alarming word for a reason.
And, of course, this is just one more leak about one more small piece of the elephant. This is not even close to the ultimate elephant, since there are already a considerable number of databanks with vast amounts of disparate bits of data about innumerable individuals, and there's no technical reason why the NSA can't compile all such information on everyone.
And from there, with machine scanning of all electronic communication, one can still claim that people aren't being "eavesdropped" on when no human will look at a transcript, and that no transcripts will be produced, until the individual is coughed up by software programs as worthy of close view by a human.
Again, the totality of the "total" here is a fair walk down that "totalitarian" road.
And I'd prefer to not wait until we've passed through the final gate to View With Alarm.
You know, I got one of those e-mails from you, about how I was wrong and you were right, and it's always sort of puzzled me, since I said from day 1 that this was probably some sort of technological advance. Now, my initial suggestion of what the technology probably consisted of (on December 20th) was a good guess, but wrong, but by December 24th I had a theory that I still think is correct, and it involves a combination of data mining and old fashioned listening in, whether by computer or by human.
My post from the 20th: http://www.thepoorman.net/2005/12/20/whither-wiretaps/
My post from the 24th: http://www.thepoorman.net/2005/12/24/tap-tap-tap/
Now, I suppose I disagree with you that it's just data mining, but I never quite figured out why I got called out.
You wrote me, after your name came up in this post, where I quoted my comment to Matt Yglesias, who linked to you and quoted you.
Then you tried to post a comment here, but objected to registering, and we had a friendly exchange of e-mail on that, which I can copy to you if you'd like (I retain copies of almost all e-mails of any substance).
My e-mailing you prior was simply a group e-mail, subject "On datamining, pattern analysis, eavesdropping, NSA, FISA, and the whole damn package," sent on January 2nd, out of politeness to note that you came up in discussion in my comment to Matt. I consider it polite to let people know when I mention then.
The e-mail started "This is an e-mail to a bunch of bloggers. My apologies for not writing individual mails."
If you look back, you can see that all I said about you was that "I probably just haven't seen the posts that tweety is talking about. I've not read anyone anywhere who wrote about the data-mining aspects who neglected to note or who ignored that, of course the data-mining and tapping, both via master switches and individual wiretaps went together inextricably.
But I only read an immensely tiny fraction of what's out there, of course, and so I must have simply not seen the writers and writing that Tweety has in mind."
So I wasn't otherwise taking issue with you.
I was tragically crushed to my core when I happened to notice the other day, incidentally, that I've fallen off The Poor Man's blogroll. Oh, well, these things happen, but be aware that my ego is crushed.
Great post by The Editors on Regretted Post, by the way, but, then, greatness at The Poor Man is common.
To be fair, MattY's account of what the government can do with the data leaves out the steps they'd take to get from a to b to c and so on and includes d e and f which are not necessarily asserted by the government, at least not the way MattY characterizes them.
I'll admit that it is dangerous territory and that oversight and concern aren't at all unwarranted. On the other hand, one blogger is fond of saying "What do people think the NSA does and has been doing since before G.W.Bush became president?"
I think these legitimate concerns about privacy and governmental power are played out in an exxagerated fashion as a result of political gamesmanship (especially given the countervailing real threats to individual and national security).
While you might say "I'm not advocating we don't investigate - I'm only advocating that the law should be followed when doing so." Many of your principled larger concerns about privacy would exist (but perhaps in a mitigated fashion) either way.
My last, well written comment got eaten, so here's the dregs:
I think we do agree. Seems like there's been some mutual confusion going on.
My point about it not just being data mining is that I think it's important to emphasize that not only are they doing this data mining, they're using it's (highly inaccurate) conclusions to decide who's lines to put real taps on, and who to refer to the FBI - all without warrants ever being issued. Basically, I look at the data mining as the tip of the iceberg. Not a very controversial view, I know, and I imagine one we agree on, as well.
In re: the blogroll, I have no control over it, but I do read this blog daily, if that counts for anything.
In re: The Editors' mea culpa, I agree, it was top-notch. I'd like to do one of those myself one day, but as it would have to include my entire ouevre, it might drag.
"On the other hand, one blogger is fond of saying "What do people think the NSA does and has been doing since before G.W.Bush became president?"
The traditional core mission was breaking the codes of foreign governments and intercepting their communications, actually.
They branched out, so to speak, but that's the original core mission, since you asked.
Don't apologize for long on-topic comments! It's a sign of weak--, no, just kidding. But no need to apologize whatever so long as it's on-topic, and not a long cut-and-paste or an irrelevancy.
"...legitimate concerns about privacy and governmental power are played out in an exxagerated fashion...."
In some cases, but I'm responsible for what I write, and not for what anyone else writes.
As to exactly what the NSA should be allowed to do, and what precise methodology of supervision should be undertaken, legitimate debate on that would be inevitable, if we actually had Congressional and judicial oversight in the first place. Absent it, we can't even have that legitimate debate, wherein reasonable disagreements and differences of perspective could exist.
Cleverly concealing that Sifu initially had trouble posting his/her comment thanks to typical Blogger hiccuping, we had this exchange in e-mail, to which I responded: > I think we do agree. > Seems like there's > been some mutual > confusion going on.
Normal. For me, anyway.
> My point about it not > just being data > mining > is that I think it's > important to > emphasize that not > only are they doing > this data > mining, they're using > it's (highly > inaccurate) > conclusions to decide > who's lines to put > real taps on,
I agree with your point, although I'd think that was obvious, but not with your phrasing. As I've been saying all along, "wiretapping" actually means the physical act of attaching a wire to the wires connected to your phone. It is a physical act. It is not a metaphor. They no longer do this.
Nor, part of my point has been, does the technology now require any specific effort to connect to anyone's phone line. Big part of my point. It's done at the central switches, and by the previously described internet technology.
Nor, in fact, does the technology require a specific effort to target anyone, and access what they've said in e-mail or in most phone calls. They merely have to call up what's already been logged and stored when the software makes a tagged connection. This has been one of my key points all along, and which I somehow seem to continue to not be able to get across to people about the technology involved, no matter how many times I try to explain it in different words (my failing more than theirs, I'm sure).
This is much more frightening than mere 20th century wiretaps and "real taps." Virtual is more more totalitarian.
Oops, left out this (in response to other stuff I said in e-mail):
> In re: the blogroll, I have no control over it, but > I do read this blog daily, if that counts for > anything.
Pretty boring in recent times. Sorry. Half-brain missing, and many crappy ailments, or so I claim, to cover all my trips to Vegas, and endless time with hookers.
But mostly I can't really believe many people regularly read me. For one thing, it would frighten me deeply. (As it is, I've gotten overly inhibited about blogging via fear of being boring and posting too much.)
> In re: The Editors' mea culpa, I agree, it was > top-notch. I'd like to do one of those myself one > day, but as it would have to include my entire > ouevre, it might drag.
I constantly consider making more references to what a jerk and ass I often am, but that, too, would be boring, and a bit jerky.
"I agree with your point, although I'd think that was obvious, but not with your phrasing. As I've been saying all along, "wiretapping" actually means the physical act of attaching a wire to the wires connected to your phone. It is a physical act. It is not a metaphor. They no longer do this."
I think this is one of those occasions where technology has superseded the word, but there's no other word that will do (e.g. "dialling" a phone). People know what wiretapping is, and they're generally scared by it, so all we have to do is explain "this is just like regular wiretapping, times 300 million"
Of course, then you run into the big-number problem Neal Stephenson has alluded to, so maybe it should be "this is just like regular wiretapping, times hundreds of thousands"
"I think this is one of those occasions where technology has superseded the word, but there's no other word that will do (e.g. 'dialling' a phone)."
I agree with your first point, but again not with the wording of the second; for the second, I think "eavesdropping on everyone's phone calls and e-mail," or a variant, gets the job done.
(As you may have noticed, while I'm hardly innocent of often using solecisms or poor wording, I'm nonetheless fussy about meanings and word choices; if you'd said something like "'wiretapping' is still a word understood by most people," or some other variant, I'd be less quibbly, whereas "I think this is one of those occasions where technology has superseded the word, but there's no other word that will do" is perhaps over-strong, though not unuseful in focusing on choosing a single word.)
One can also say "I called your phone," without a need to refer to obsolete "dialing." :-) (But I don't care about that one particularly; this one I care about because it conjures up a false minimalization of the issue.)