Dissent: Conversations About Odd News Items
On Flag Day, June 14, this item by Mark Follman appeared in the "War Room" column over at SALON.COM – and it is interesting -
Well, such things happen these days. It is what to expect.
But then we get this -
That should do it, right? Artistic expression. Freedom to make political comment, even about our guns laws.
Perhaps rather than folding he might have called the ACLU or something?
Some columns here evince a bit of dissatisfaction with the current crew in power. Time to worry? No. This site is "under the radar" with only 12,000 readers each month, and much of the content is pretty pictures. Small potatoes. And my two ex-wives are long gone, and my mother passed away years ago, and I'm retired so there's no boss to call. What are they going to do, harass my surly housecat, Harriet? And there's nothing on guns and Bush, so far.
Not to worry.
Who should worry?
There's the woman mentioned mid-week in the CURSOR.ORG roundup of news stories:
That snippet isn't the half of it. She said more -
Not nice, but she's from Vacaville, out here in California. We all know about California. And she is president of Gold Star Families for Peace, and any organization whose name ends in "for Peace" is kind of hippy-sixties, right?
Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, wonders what the chances are that she gets a visit tomorrow from two secret service agents.
Pretty slim. That would look real bad, harassing a grieving mom, and there are enough other ways to marginalize her.
My friend the business school guru, suggests I not worry about what is on my site, but what he sees in emails I send my friends. I do have contacts in the aerospace industry, as I worked in the world for decades, and contacts in the military at fairly high rank, and, yes, I was once related by marriage to someone near the top of the Defense Department and have done the Pentagon thing. One hears things.
But I don't publish those things. And I won't.
Still, the Patriot Act has not been much changed yet, nor most provisions allowed to expire, so all email from anyone to anyone can be monitored by the government without any warrant at any time for any reason, or no particular reason. Luckily, the data mining software they designed, or commissioned really, to track everyone's email coast to coast, and internationally, is crap - it just doesn't work. Yet. I forget who has the contract.
And last week, Monday, the Supreme Court refused to take up the matter of the president claiming the right to declare any US citizen an "enemy combatant" - even one born here and living here - and to arrest that person even on US soil, jail that person without charges, for as long as he wants, incommunicado, without legal recourse at all. The court is not going to touch that. There's a war on, remember?
But I'm not worried. Worse case? I could be a test case - the one "enemy combatant" case that does get taken up by these SCOTUS folks. It'd be fun. And my Wall Street attorney friend could try out his fourth amendment chops - and do some barrister work, not this solicitor crap. Ah, but he's not my other friend has been admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court. My Wall Street attorney friend would have to fill out lots of paperwork.
And curiously enough, something for a later issue, I came across some right-side stuff about original intent and the constitution. The new idea? We need to follow what the framers intended - and since the Bill of Rights consists of "amendments" one to ten, that stuff is not actually part of the document. This press freedom stuff and establishing no state religion are NOT part of the constitution, really. They are an "add on" so to speak. It's an interesting argument. How would the late Peter Rodino respond?
My business school guru responds:
I think I upset him.
Now on this software thing - "…the bid would fail at the design stage because the work typically starts at the end-point and works back to the data, instead of starting at the point of fine granularity and working outwards."
Been there, done that. When I worked at Computer Science Corporation (CSC) - and I still have friend who work for them - the whole problem was always what my business school friend says. Some sales slime had sold a systems solution and turned to the programmers to save his ass - but he had no clue what could be done, or needed to be done, only his hazy "vision" of what the ideal end-state would be. At CSC I used to teach business process reengineering - and that had nothing to do with programming. You sat down with those who did the work and charted out just what the job was - tasks and what came in and what when out, and for whom and for what reason. You built a representation - usually a big flow chart - of what the hell you were actually doing and why - and all the systems crap came later. Lots of stuff didn't need automated, just rationalized. Programming code was not needed. But few folks do that. Mostly - particularly up in Canada at a locomotive plant where I managed a systems shop - you got line guys saying, "Wouldn't it be neat if we had a system that did X, or Y, or Z?" Yeah, but why? My friends and I remember a warehouse pick-list system we were working on - melding a vendor Visual Basic warehouse system to the in-house mainframe MRP system with the idea somehow the right parts would get to the shop floor like magic. I remember presenting the prototype, and head of production saying, well, it does what we asked, but it's really not what we wanted. Huh?
Well, I've left that world. I don't miss it.
As for the constitution business – my friend touches on something interesting. Is the key conflict today between literalists and those more flexible and, perhaps, metaphoric? Is a conservative always attempting "fix in time" a truth, and a liberal bent on "dislocation" and flux to see what can be done?
From the business school fellow -
I get the gist, but I'm not that patient.
And from one of my CSC friends at the locomotive plant?
As my business school friend says, "Dilbert wouldn't be in business if it weren't so!"
To sum up?
Dissent is becoming dangerous. Fundamentalists are everywhere. And they cannot track us all because they cannot build the tools to do it.
Freedom is sometimes not won, but inadvertently handed to you by the general incompetence of those who would limit you.