Two Riffs on Edward Snowden

1) The Great Success of “Operation Snowden”
Three months ago, the Washington Post’s alpha-wonk Ezra Klein noted the double-think in Washington, that we could obviously create a vast enterprise to monitor all human information (using closed-source tools), but obviously the effort to provide healthcare to all was inevitably doomed by the same contracting procedures.
Of course, those in endless opposition to Obamacare are less likely to fuss over the NSA’s work (pace Rand Paul, and assuming they even see the true costs of the latter), and when Klein wrote, people hadn’t yet counted on the NSA hollowing out encryption standards from the inside. Nonetheless:
…. it’s hard to believe that [the] technological incompetence [of] and [the] technological omniscience of PRISM can both exist, exactly as currently understood, in the same institution.
Perhaps Klein was in too much of a rush to get to the obvious answer (certainly the bracketed text I had to add points to this – in case they fix it, here’s a screen shot).
But you can see it, can’t you? Say it with me: The operative known as “Edward Snowden” is the NSA’s greatest operation, a massive scam that for almost no money and just a few leaks of easy-to-bribe data (ooh, a Google data header, I’m so in awe) has convinced the the world that “we” (which of course, really, does not include you or me) really can analyze and record everything said everywhere.
Really the NSA has nothing close to this. Modern tech is just too hard. It wasn’t that long ago they were begging us to install Clipper chips and not use encryption. Rather than try to keep up (because look how poorly that turned out for the Soviets), they’ve just read a lot of Stanislaw Lem and now have us convinced of impossible capabilities like scanning all phone records and monitoring all web searches. Seriously. Who believes that?
You do, you darling little paranoids. Welcome to the Panopticon of your own guilty fear.
2) Snowden’s Feast of Crumbs
We must admit to a certain pride in how far we have come — that the crumbs pilfered, cockroach-like, by this nonsensical libertarian have so appalled those whom we have privileged to deliver our preferred interpretations of reality. As our arts-controllers, “writing” as “William Gibson,” cheekily allowed others to read: the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. (One never can argue with the arts-controllers, reckless though they may seem; eventually we need new staff, and something must inspire them.)
Each night as our silent cloaked craft carry us home to Maryland from the true NSA headquarters (yottabyte servers now completely solar-powered, we are proud to note, even in Minnesota winter), we feel the charming delight of going back to that simpler time, “the present,” when people still had no cyborg brain augmentation. If our spouses knew … But we digress.
There was a concern, some nanoseconds in length, that Snowden had in his possession one of our true secrets — that the exchange medium known as “cash” is and has always been completely traceable. We here transmit to reassure on this score.
Our culture-herders and arts-controllers have spent great effort convincing people that cash — each paper bit of which is uniquely tagged — is untraceable. We even put this blatant lie in science-fiction, to imply that there always will be a zone of commerce safe from us. Of course it helps that we restrained the Mint from adding visible barcodes, but the machine-readability of a unique number in differently-colored ink should be obvious. And yet, it is not.
People are so gullible, thank goodness. Or really, thank ourselves.

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Anthony Dobranski Posted on

Novelist, writer, game designer, skier.

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