What’s particularly interesting is the sort of cluttered presence of both the model of the real figure and the real figure himself, whereas generally a writer will content himself with one of the two. Do the inhabitants of this fictional world ever get suspicious, I wonder, concluding as they must that one of the two global celebrity leakers is clearly an unfair literary depiction of the other? Do they also notice that all of their mothers are psychotic and that their marriages tend to slowly collapse in the course of long, grueling flashbacks, and do they conclude that they’re living in a Jonathan Franzen novel? This raises all manner of ethical questions that I will leave to others.
For the last generation and more, serious people in suits bearing white papers about economic development have been one of the greatest threats to world prosperity. It was serious, sober technocrats, sporting elite education and wide experience, who laid waste to Russia after the collapse of the USSR. Similar people created the eurozone — now an economic disaster area suffering through a crisis worse than the Great Depression. It was sensible economists — sometimes literally the exact same ones — who demanded that nations disembowel themselves with austerity after the financial crisis.
The ever-present fear that besets the vast poor, the economically and socially insecure, is a fear of still a different breed. It is a climate closing in; it is like the fog in San Francisco or in London. It is nowhere in particular yet everywhere. It is a mood which one carries around with himself, distilled from the acrid conflict with which his days are surrounded. It has its roots deep in the heart of the relations between the weak and the strong, between the controllers of environment and those who are controlled by it.
- Howard Thurman via <a href=“http://chrisblattman.com/2015/09/29/fear-and-what-a-centuries-old-theologian-can-teach-the-modern-social-scientist/”>Chris Blattman
When the Snowden revelations first came to light, it felt like we might be heading towards an Orwellian dystopia. Now we know that the situation is much worse.
If you go back and read Orwell, you’ll notice that Oceania was actually quite good at data security. Our own Thought Police is a clown car operation with no checks or oversight, no ability to keep the most sensitive information safe, and no one behind the steering wheel.
“Proprietary software is an unsafe building material,” [Eben] Moglen had said. “You can’t inspect it.”
That was five years ago. On Tuesday, Volkswagen admitted it had rigged the proprietary software on 11 million of its diesel cars around the world so that they would pass emissions tests when they were actually spreading smog.