People have such simple minds. I spent New Year's Eve and some of the next day in a major metropolis—never mind which one. I knew that nothing would happen: infrastructures and public services would not collapse; chaos would not prevail.
Why not? Come on. They wouldn't let these things happen. Good rule of thumb for paranoids: They don't like most forms of disorder, certainly not the kinds that would ensue if the world's financial systems were to collapse. So They made sure that things were all right. I counted on that; I bet my life on it.
But I didn't go to any of the big gatherings, the ones with fireworks and drunks and vast scrums of humanity. Men and women with bombs and guns, committed to chaos—they couldn't disrupt the infrastructure, but they could make things ugly. I didn't think this would happen, but, well, one never knows. Better to be cautious in these matters.
Sure enough, worldwide it all went very nicely, thank you. They must have been full of self-congratulation on January the 1st. The system had been maintained, and They had made billions in the process—given all the consultations and evaluations, all the rewriting of code and testing of systems. And all the fear induced in us as we came to realize how fragile we are, how dependent upon Their systems.
Party-time over, the fun could begin. They had to wait for the new year, They had to show a certain hesitation—even They have to hedge Their bets. If They had overlooked something important, and key systems failed, and the various markets or transactional systems couldn't function ... well, better not to have any new, vulnerable initiatives in place; just wait and see what the new year brings.
But now They had confidence in their systems, and so They could move.
Have you noticed that lately things have heated up in the worlds of surveillance and data-gathering? I won't call any names—it's too much like invoking a demon—but you may have noticed how many new initiatives, programs, and executive and legislative actions have been gotten going and how the net has been shaken by odd events. New plans for online (and off-line) profiling, new "standards" for medical privacy, new attempts to set international data protocols—these things and more, all in a climate of anxiety caused by denial of service attacks and media and governmental responses to them. The systems are fragile, They say, and we must do all we can to insure security. Tighten things up, make users of the networks more accountable, lest chaos come.
They like it so much when the FBI and Department of Justice are roiled up, when congressmen smell a possible political advantage and agency heads start looking all around them for warm blankets of security. I wonder: did They actually pay the packet monkeys who disrupted Yahoo and all the others, or did They merely do what They so often do—use fear, uncertainty, and doubt as levers of change.
And does it matter? They want us to fear disorder because then we turn to Them for order because it is the thing They always promise—to make the networks (or the trains) run safely and on time.
So now is when I walk more softly; now is when I get scared; now is when I might head for the bunker or the compound if I had one—not to hole up for years (if I know one thing for sure, it's this—you can't outwait Them) but to catch my breath, get below the radar, cultivate a little year 2000 invisibility before there's no invisibility left, there's just accountability and visibility and control.
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