… SUCKING OUT OUR FREEDOM AND PRIVACY
What did I learn during my monthlong “quiet period”?
Before I tell you what happened in our neck of the woods in Hawaii during the first month of 2014, I need to refresh your memory about what led me to this quiet period. Here’s the Spirit guidance I received as we entered the new year:
“Clear your plate of that which does not serve you”
- Go inward, not outward. During the month of January, refrain from posting anything non-essential on my web sites by email or on Facebook.
- Reduce your reliance on, and the use of, man-made technologies for the rest of the year.
- Sell the Rainbow Shower. My mission in Hawaii is over.
- Move the Steinway to the Honolulu piano dealer who has a better chance of selling it than the Maui store.
What did I learn during my monthlong “quiet period”?
If you click on BREAKING “RADIO SILENCE:” RECAP OF JANUARY 2014 at my sister-web site YinYangBob, you can see what happened in January 2014 as play-by-play. Now I will share with you the “story behind the story.” I will try to explain first to myself, and then to you, too, what I learned during this quiet period.
- Let’s start with what did not happen. I expected that I would be reading a lot more during this quiet period. I read some. But only about four or five times out of 31 days.
- I expected that I would spend a lot of time in nature, in the gulch, just vegging out. Meditating. Instead, I spent a lot of time in the gulch during “farmer’s yoga.” Working. Hard. I fired my weed-whacker who had neglected certain parts of the Rainbow Shower while we away this fall. It took me a dozen or more long weed-whacking and machete-wielding sessions to (re)tame the jungle to the point it was at before we left for Arizona back in September. And I also hired a new landscaping team who will start next week.
- I expected to send my Steinway from the Kahului store to the Honolulu dealer. Instead, I brought it back home. With the Spirit’s blessing, of course.
Man-made technology sucks… sucking out our freedom and privacy
Two decades ago, I likened the PC and the Internet revolutions to the invention of a handgun.
“They empower the individual and small companies to compete with industrial giants on a level playing field,” I wrote in a landmark Annex Bulletin (End of Western Dominance? Refusion of Arts & Sciences, Nov 1994).
I was wrong. True, the PC and the Internet did empower individuals to compete with industrial giants and even win. Witness Google, Apple (resurgence), Facebook, and hundreds of other companies that have emerged as IT leaders since then.
And the PC and the Internet also facilitated a “re-fusion of arts and sciences, returning man back to Leonardo da Vinci’s era,” as I also predicted 20 years ago (End of Western Dominance? Refusion of Arts & Sciences, Nov 1994).
As a result, they unleashed a tsunami of creativity around the globe. Which, in turn, led to a restructuring of the social and political order in many countries.
But an unfortunate side effect was that high tech also gave the industrial giants an opportunity to hijack the new technologies and subvert them to further their personal agendas and gains. And the biggest of them all – governments – usurped them to suck out remaining morsels of our freedoms and privacy after the end of Cold War.
So instead of the New Dawn we were promised, the world has experienced the new Dark Age following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Wars have proliferated across the globe. Along with them genocide, “ethnic cleansing,” economic and physical devastation,
But the worst and the most insidious enemy was invisible. Yet it spread like cancer and penetrated nearly facet of our lives. It was spying. Under the pretense of fighting terrorism and providing physical security to the people, western governments, led by the U.S. and Britain, have shredded centuries-old constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights to privacy.
If you do not know who Edward Snowden is, you have probably just arrived from another planet. It was this young man who, eight months ago, exposed the full extent of unconstitutional behavior of the US government officials, including the President, who had sworn to uphold the Constitution.
“The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents.
The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.
Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.”
(An excerpt from US and UK spy agencies piggyback on commercial data to extract personal information of millions of people, including even sexual preferences, The Guardian, London, UK)
So sure, the PC and the Internet revolutions could have been be rightfully compared 20 years ago to the invention of a handgun. Since then, however, governments and large corporations have seized the handgun and are pointing it right at the people – you and me. So the counter-revolutionaries have the upper hand at the moment.
What’s to be done?
- First and the most obvious, we need to keep on speaking out against such usurpation of unwarranted power. Just as President Eisenhower did 53 years ago in his farewell speech to the nation:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
See the quote at 1:38 min of this Jan 17, 1961 TV clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY
- Second, we should minimize our dependence on, or addiction to, man-made technologies. If you don’t have an iPhone, the NSA cannot track your personal or sexual preferences. If you do not carry a cell phone with you at all times, the government cannot track your whereabouts so easily. If you do not post copious messages or stories on Facebook, especially about your personal lives, the spooks will have a harder time garnering that information. And if you don’t text maniacally all the time, as so many (especially young) people do, your social life will improve. Maybe even your sex life. 🙂
Ditch or minimize use of man-made technologies
So that’s what my quiet period was about, I came to realize by the end of January. In fact, just yesterday, the last day of the month, Elizabeth and I discussed over breakfast the latest case of governmental abuse of our rights and freedoms (US and UK spy agencies piggyback on commercial data to extract personal information of millions of people, including even sexual preferences, Jan 31, 2014). And I told her that our best line of defence is ditching or minimizing the use of our man-made technologies.
Which is what I intend to do as much as possible the rest of the year. Will you join me in this “silent revolution?” For your sake, of course.