Archive for the ‘Big Brother Is Watching’ Category

Conspiracy theories and all that…

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

[Note from Steve: Have a safe and happy Halloween. Parents, please take care of your children, and please don’t drink and drive—someone else’s children might be your victims.]

They’ll get a boost with the partial release of the JFK assassination papers (the CIA is holding some back, which will only add to the conspiracy, of course). Here’s the short list: Was someone else involved besides Oswald? I always thought it was suspicious that Jack Ruby silenced Lee Harvey…to keep him from spilling the beans about his Russian backers? They might have wanted some revenge for the Cuban Missile Crisis, after all. The visits to the Cuban consulate and Russian embassy in Mexico are suggestive.

A mob killing? That conspiracy would work better for brother Bobby K. A Castro plot? Add Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis and you can create a conspiracy involving both Russians and Cubans! A CIA plot? Why not? They’re the ones holding back documents. And their hands were already dirty from overthrowing governments (for example, in Iran, with subsequent installation of the Shaw, an American puppet) and possible assassinations in their anti-communist witch hunt (the Dirty War in Argentina and overthrow of Allende came later, but were a continuation of the Dulles brothers’ legacy—and now it seems Neruda’s death in Chile was actually murder, coming only a bit after Allende’s murder).

I have no trouble with conspiracy theories. In general, they’re harmless and created by groups searching for “the truth.” And sometimes, if and when the truth comes out, we’re surprised that the conspiracy theory was correct. There’s so much secrecy now—the executive branch, Congress, the Pentagon, and many government agencies, all under GOP control,  live in a dark world of Washington and international secrets—that one has to wonder all the time about what they’re hiding. Two mantras from X-Files come to mind: “Trust no one” (everyone’s lying!) and “the truth is out there” (but we’ll never find it!).

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Apocalypse redux…

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Redux = brought back, revived. We’re talking about the apocalypse again. Apocalypse is the event. While a dystopian society can cause it or be its aftermath, post-apocalyptic is reserved for the aftermath. There is a resurgence in these themes now. Everyone knows the reason: what’s happening in the U.S. right now as well as across the world has frightening parallels with 1930’s Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as with the darkest days of the Cold War. There’s nothing religious about this apocalypse.

Most dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic tales in the past were associated with the two world wars or the Communist threat. Brave New World was dystopian; Ape and Essence was post-apocalyptic. Even The Time Machine was post-apocalyptic. 1984 and Animal Farm were dystopian. Later sci-fi novels like Not This August were post-apocalyptic. Many classics can be found in these subgenres. Many soon-to-be classics like Wool are too. They all are warnings about what could happen. It’s common that interest in books and movies in these subgenres reflect troubled times in the world.

The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the world. As that hand on the Doomsday Clock inches toward midnight, these sci-fi subgenres become more popular. Some readers ignore them, burying their heads in the sand by reading schmaltzy romances and fluffy adventures that avoid most serious themes of any type. Which group is right? Beats me. I just tell stories. If one of them comes out apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, so be it. Almost all my stories have serious themes, though, but not all of them are in the aforementioned subgenres.

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Irish Stew #60…

Monday, January 30th, 2017

[Note from Steve: Lots of mini-comments, mostly related to Mr. Trump. Don’t worry—I’m not responding to every tweet!]

International

Welcome to fascist America! That’s what needs to be on the Statue of Liberty now, thanks to Il Duce Trump’s most recent executive order which led to the detainment of Muslim travelers in the nation’s airports. This decree from a small-minded and arrogant SOB is as unconstitutional as it is unconscionable and represents a blatant pandering to his bigoted and hateful followers.

In the dragnet, Muslims who have helped the U.S. military, CIA, and state department in their fight against terrorism, Muslims who are war refugees who have legal visas after 2+ years of extreme vetting, parents visiting their children in the U.S. who have visited them many times before, and others were detained, some forced to sign papers allowing DHS to return them to their place of origin, action which mostly likely puts their lives in danger at the hands of the true terrorists. Others are left in limbo with no place to call home. Still others who have already immigrated and are contributing here in America shouldn’t leave the country, even to Canada, for fear of not being able to return. The stay granted by a federal judge in Brooklyn seems to affect only green card holders. That’s not enough!

What’s next? Muslim-Americans being required to wear crescent patches? Internment camps? Goose-stepping troops marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of Trump Tower? The parallels with 1930’s Germany are scary!

“Build the Wall!” Trump’s campaign slogan is a sophism. Most claims coming out of his big mouth are sophisms. His executive orders are sophisms and carefully worded to hide his administrations racism and bigotry. American taxpayers will have to build the wall, not Mexico. Illegal immigrants will tunnel around it or come in on temporary visas, as the majority already do, most staying as good workers who do jobs Americans won’t do, raise their children to be responsible members of immigrant America, and stay out of trouble. The wall will do nothing more than another pandering to Trump’s bigoted and hateful supporters.

America’s greatness lies in its immigrant tradition. Building the wall is the least intelligent thing we can do for immigration reform. And intelligent people know that. The president of Mexico knows that, which is why he blew Mr. Trump off, among other reasons. Why waste time talking to a psycho?

Europe’s turn to the right. French and German progressives and many others are feeling the heat. Mr. Trump was the first, but he might not be the last as the world turns to right-wing demagogues. now called “populists” in the new doublespeak (see the next item). I’m the first to acknowledge that conservatism has its place—change for change’s sake can never be a sound governmental policy. Every action has at least one reaction and careful consideration must be given to whether a policy change will create unintended consequences and have negative impacts—that requires logic and reason driving careful analysis, not ideological and illogical rants.

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Irish Stew #54…

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

International

Applaud those Kurds!  They have become an effective fighting force against ISIS.  They’re knocking on the door of Mosul.  OK, ISIS leaked through their forward lines, a Navy SEAL consultant died, but that’s no cause for hand wringing.  They’re showing Sunni and Shi’ite Iraqis what it means to soldier on.  Joe Biden’s solution—divide it into three states, Kurdish, Shi’ite, and Sunni—is still the best one for Iraq, and the Kurds deserve to be rewarded well.  To hell with Turkey and their plans to exterminate the Kurds.

Corrupt Iraqi politicians.  That’s what the invasion of the Green Zone was about.  The Iraqi politicos, mostly Shi’ite, are also inept.  But given that Shi’ites are in power, why were the protestors Sadr’s people?  Sects within sects within sects, I guess.  We really stepped in it when we invaded Iraq.  The birth of ISIS, an Iraqi government that can’t govern, and an army that can’t fight (except for the Kurds) is George Bush’s legacy for modern Iraq and the world.  And whomever we elect for president in the U.S. is only going to make it worse!  We reap what we sow.

Words, words.  The boy despot in North Korea continues to starve his people and brandish his toy weapons, accompanying that with fanfare and rants against South Korea and the West.  What’s new?  A missile launch from a submarine, that’s what!  OK, it’s a pathetic retrofit with zero capability right now, but did you know that spoiled brat had submarines?  A launch toward the West Coast of the U.S. from an offshore sub in territorial waters would be from a much shorter distance than a launch from NK.  We can’t laugh at this pathetic narcissist for too much longer.  He might be a stupid and spoiled megalomaniac, but he herds scientists who are smart and aim to please this psychotic leader.

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Irish Stew #40…

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

[Lots of news items to comment on today…pick your favorites, or have fun with all of them.  I guess the summer heat is heating up the news too!]

Item. The SecDef is right!  Ashton Carter received all kinds of flak for saying that the Iraqi army can’t fight.  In Ramadi they outnumbered ISIS and still ran with their tails between their legs.  Of course, we know what ISIS does with anyone they capture on the field of battle, but c’mon!  Are we going to see a huge migration of Sunnis to neighboring countries?  The U.S. should give the go-ahead to the Iranis to slug it out with ISIS if the Iraqi army can’t fight.

Item. FIFA.  I’m not surprised.  I know many soccer fans—my Colombian friends and relatives, for example—and I’ve been an observer of the game since the early seventies (Latinos call the game “futbol”) and have watched several Copas America and World Cups, including the last one where Colombia made a good showing, as well as the U.S.  When the 2022 World Cup went to Qatar over the U.S., I scratched my head, and decided that what I’d been hearing for about forty years was correct—there’s corruption in the sport.  These arrests are probably just the tip of the iceberg.  I guess wherever there’s big money involved (soccer’s the most popular sport in the world), there’s graft and corruption.  Wall Street isn’t the only place where illegal shenanigans occur by any means.  (See several items below.)

Item. Conservative clowns.  The Republican field of declared and wannabe candidates is shaping up to look like the clown troops.  We won’t miss the Ringling Brothers Circus—this electoral season will provide entertainment with the GOP clowns and elephants and maybe even falling trapeze artists (see Hastert below).  Bush is already acquiring a taste for shoe leather by saying he would have invaded Iraq too—nothing like defending the family dishonor; Christie has come out swinging against Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—that will be a common theme; Huckaby’s main statement so far is his defense of the Duggers—he’s a favorite of the religious right, but probably the Duggers no longer are; and Walker’s slamming unions and pension funds, again a common theme.

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The spy who came from the cold…

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

[I enjoyed writing the humorous piece about that inimitable and desiccated mummy James Patterson last Thursday, so I decided to do another one.  This is about Edward Snowden, hero to some, traitor to others.  I find Mr. Snowden much more interesting than Mr. Patterson….]

The handsome, smiling, and dapper super spy, ex-NSA, CIA, and DIA agent, Edward Snowden, placed his bet, the wheel spun, and he lost again.  He wondered if he should hawk his watch.  He didn’t know if this Monte Carlo casino would accept the cheap Russian watch the SVR had provided him as collateral—after all, it had a transceiver, GPS, and several wonderful speeches by Lord and Master Putin, callable by voice command—in Russian, of course.  And sometimes all that worked.  He’d probably have to hit the street and find a pawn shop.  Does Monte Carlo have pawn shops?  He should know that, being an ex-NSA, CIA, and DIA agent, but he didn’t.  In fact, he knew nothing about roulette either.

He was just about to revisit one of the fancy men’s bathrooms—not for the marble and fancy fixtures, but for the wonderful toilet paper he didn’t have access to in Moscow—when he spotted the woman approaching.  She looked like Angelina Jolie without horns and sunken cheeks.  She smiled.  The super spy smiled back.

“Maybe I can change your luck,” she said, raking an index finger over the fashionable stubble on his boyish cheek.  “What’s your name, gambling boy?”

“Snowden.  Edward Snowden.”  His cover was so good he could use his own name.  He touched her bare shoulder, using his index finger to toy with the thin strap.  He smiled as she licked her lips seductively.

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Was Huxley correct?

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

[TANSTAAFL: Do you read this blog?  I’m not asking if you like the posts, just whether you read them!  If so, don’t be passive.  React.  Write a comment—chew me out if you like (no foul language, please).  You can even receive a free ebook—see the bottom of the “Free Stuff and Contests” webpage; or write an honest review of one of my ebooks in exchange for the ebook.  In general, buy, read, and review some of my books.  Your participation motivates me and helps defray the costs of this website and my ebook releases.  Be active.  Help indie authors provide you with inexpensive entertainment.  It’s a two-way street, folks!]

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is one of many English dystopian novels released in the early 20th century that I read during my “discovery years” of sci-fi (sixth grade to senior in high school).  It might not be as depressing as some other early books in this genre, but it came to my mind at this moment with the news that Colorado is doing brisk business selling marijuana.  There is good evidence for stating that many Americans are already “medicated” via Prozac and other anti-depressants, not to mention tobacco and alcohol, so Huxley’s soma society perhaps was already being realized, but the legalization of marijuana could be a step farther in the direction of creating that “brave new world” where everyone is happy and carefree.

With this subject, one must distinguish between medical uses of marijuana and recreational uses.  Colorado is unique in the latter, while many states allow medical uses.  Others are feeling compassionate.  New York, for example, is rethinking its policy on medical use.  There is a strong argument for this if a person in pain can manage the pain better with marijuana.  The drug can help them through some very bad times.  The medical profession has a mixed opinion on this, and there are some doctors, of course, who would deny a person after surgery his morphine pump.  I don’t see how, though, legislators should have any say about the medical use.

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The two faces of security…

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

In last Thursday’s op-ed page, the NY Times laments the length of the sentence handed out to Pfc. Bradley Manning.  Perhaps this was in defense of their own release of some of the many thousands of classified documents this confused person handed over to Julian Assange.  In any case, their argument was spurious because they based it simply on the observation that the U.S. government over-classifies.  They share the myopic view of many people who hold up Manning as a hero for being a whistle-blower.  (His problems of sexual identity and childhood abuse are unfortunate, but they’re no defense.  Whether the U.S. government should reward him by paying for a sex change in prison needs debate: should taxpayers pay for this?)

One face of security classification is the government’s penchant to over-classify.  It almost seems that the attitude is, “When in doubt, make it classified.”  The Pentagon and its subservient military-industrial complex are the biggest culprits here, but the State Department is also guilty, as are agencies that have data, policies, procedures, and opinions that aren’t part of the standard security classification scheme but are “confidential” nonetheless.  Things that could be open and transparent are not.  Data, for example, is often not distinguished from policy, procedures, and opinion—it often should be.

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Understanding democracy…

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

While I have criticized the ACLU and various other groups who support Snowden, Manning, and that new savior of all humanity, Assange, I recognize that there should be a national and international debate about how much of our privacy we should give up in a democracy to fight terrorism, be it international or home-grown.  Nonetheless, contrary to what some believe, the Constitution doesn’t guarantee privacy—it protects us against illegal search and seizure.

It seems that when our internet activity is “searched” by Google and others for commercial purposes, it’s OK, but when the NSA does it to combat terrorism, it’s not.  The words used even indicate a dangerous and illogical bifurcation: When it’s the NSA, it’s “spying”; when it’s Google et al, it’s just “data mining for marketing purposes.”  However, I’ll admit this is clearly a giant with at least two heads—better said, a hydra, and I’m not referring to the terrorist organization found in Marvel comics—so maybe we just have to kill the whole beast.

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Protecting the nation’s secrets…

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Here’s to Pfc. Bradley Manning and NSA contract worker Edward Snowden!  These two sniveling publicity seekers unilaterally took it upon themselves to put me, my family, and my friends in danger.  In fact, they’ve put everyone in danger.  They say the public should decide about counterterrorism issues.  The public, for better or worse, elects the government in this country.  The idea is that national security issues are decided by a consensus of people who possess a far bigger picture than these egotistical and submoronic wannabe folk heroes.  How dare they unilaterally decide anything for the rest of us?  I think it’s time for a lesson in counterterrorism: Let’s put them down in the center of an al Qaeda or Taliban camp and see if they can weasel their way out with their heads still on their shoulders!

From the aliens hidden at Area 51 to Wikileaks, conspiracy theorists are having a great time.  While many of my books deal with conspiracies, they are also generally entertaining albeit believable warnings of what might happen if we let our guard down.  After all, you’re not paranoid if it’s true.  I write about possible futures, so I don’t need to worry about “the truth.”  I just have to follow Tom Clancy’s dictum: make my fiction seem real (that’s a paraphrase, of course—for the full quote, see the banner quotes on my website).

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