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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Internet / society's death may be linked

The internet may soon be damaged beyond repair - or maybe it's us.

If the government gets its way, the equivalent of a “public health care option” will be forced upon us all who live part of our lives in the ether. The realities of that action can’t be adequately gauged.

But I’ve often wondered about the internet. I see it much as I do nuclear science, which has given us clean energy and incredible advances in medicine, but has also given us the incredible threat of the ultimate bomb. We live in the shadows of all these things and I can’t help but wonder what would be better – to know the secrets of the stars themselves, or to stare up at them in wonder as any forest creature and craft our own complicated legends – our own new way of understanding God?

In the case of the net, we face an unprecedented access to communication, information and, of course the opposite of both of those – a new kind of attack and a more refined version of disinformation, lies so insidious they worm their way inside where they can no longer be discerned as separate from our own beliefs.. But where is the wisdom, and where is the enlightenment such fantastic knowledge should provide?

We witness the first major use of a tool like this in politics and a relatively unknown candidate – Obama, is elected. We witness the use of it by a dissatisfied population in Iran, and major unrest is broadcast across the world in real-time. That country could have thrown off the yoke of oppression, which has been settled on them with religious fervor, but for a little more outside support, a little more organization and a little more preparation. Now, their government has found ways to put a stranglehold on such technology.

These are recent experiences, which most people today should be able to relate to.

But what about the future?

The use of the internet to organize massive protests against the government’s impending policies hasn’t gone un-noticed by the Chicago-style administration recently being called more corrupt than that of Nixon’s time. Of course, they used the social networking of the internet and the free access to the very living-rooms, bedrooms and basements of regular citizens, to their benefit in the election, so they know its’ power and must seek to control it, or it will be their undoing as well. The net was used effectively to harry Governor Sarah Palin until she had no choice but to take a path more difficult to follow. I believe she will be back from an unexpected direction when the clock strikes the right hour.

But our stuttering officials fail to understand another truth of the information age – there are no limits. Where there are limits artificially imposed, there will be many who will seek to find ways around them. And a jilted, dissatisfied public means that those developing “work-arounds,” to government cyber-controls, won’t simply be basement schmucks. But may be former government-trained and blooded individuals with cutting-edge capabilities – or even some grandmother with a home to herself and nothing but time on her hands to re-educate herself on the infitinite access even government-monitored systems provide.

Oddly, info-tech follows the same model as a narcotic. People are altered by its’ introduction – a recent study confirms that brain activity is actually affected by use of the net and can even be seen as being addictive. Also similar to a new narcotic, the net has no rules applied to it; until the government sees a way to profit by instituting control. And as soon as “control” becomes the word on the streets, the narcotic goes underground where it finds a whole new brand of people willing to learn to use and deal in its’ wares.

And there could be no more suitable environment than this one, to bring that kind of legislation into being. Budget-starved and not opposed to cannibalizing the public to get the revenue it is so hungry for, the zombies shuffling through our White House and Congress will gladly latch onto anything which will quell the rising tide of dissent and potentially generate more power, money and control for the elite. The internet sits like a fat, ripe bucket of slop. Perfect for zombies or swine – and our government officials are today, resembling either thing - in deeds and noises and movement.

So what will the world look like tomorrow? My simple opinion hardly meets the requirements for even the weakest prognostication, but I would offer this piece of science fiction for your horror, no doubt. All of what I am about to tell you will come to pass if certain unknowable outcomes for certain knowable items and situations, take the worst possible course.

So here it is. It's bad, but it's also a wide extrapolation with all kinds of conspiracy theories thrown in. So if you are weak in spirit or reading it to your kids, stop now:

We will soon wake every morning to homes with identical televisions – all synced to government approved and controlled stations – much like the PBS channel – or the British BBC – or some of the channels allowed in countries which are primarily Muslim. Nothing from those sets will be believed by most of the public, but the unending state-run media will be designed with subjugation in mind and so subliminal messaging will likely be liberally interwoven in what we are seeing. It will be impossible to avoid the constant saturation of messages coming at us through these sets, the new radios and all the state-run, state-funded and state-influenced printed magazines and newspapers. Drinking water and bottled drinks will be spiked as well with "mood enhancers."

A few free channels, possibly operating on old sets with spotty air-wave vacuum tube technology may be available, but owning or operating them will mean jail-time or worse – a one way trip to the interment camps – if caught. The programming coming through those will be real revolutionary stuff. It will be brief – televised at specific hours and watched in small, stuffy hidden rooms.

A trip to the grocery store will be difficult, because those making the trips will have to weigh the insane cost of fuel against the equally high-priced groceries. They will also need a government chip imbedded and working for the scanner to read. Without that, they'll even have to get their food from the underground. Most likely, they will simply elect to take a couple back-packs to the store on a back-road route, that day, or push a stolen metal cart down the main road, hoping to keep from running into the predators and groups of dumb yobs who have plenty of gas, vehicles and weapons – and whom the police seem to turn a blind eye towards.

Christian holidays may be allowed in the home, but no outside demonstration or decoration of property will be allowed. Also flying flags or putting stickers on windows will be unlawful. Those who do these things, will be cited. “Minority” celebrations will see less resistance, however, and will be welcomed into public and private spaces with greater regularity as long as they do not offend the government, which will be adopting a more complete policy of religious replacement or outright atheism because you cannot have a God if you are trying to put forward a government which embodies supreme authority. Such a government must kill God. Eventually, all religious groups will feel the weight of this kind of legislation. Churches will be converted into government buildings, or razed.

Elections will be held – but their outcome meaningless – just like in third-world countries today. Our leaders will have eliminated term limits, so the elections will be fewer anyway.

Technology will be severely hobbled by the government until the underground begins to adapt new military hardware which is actually currently in field trials to help ground teams communicate with each other. This hardware will allow you to wear headsets or implants which will literally connect you 24-hours a day into the net. WireHeads who assimilate this new technology (in the next 10-years or so) will be able to operate seamlessly within the ether. They will be like a kind of new performing artist and they will give a whole new meaning to “surfing the net.”

The government, fresh out of its surrender in the War on Drugs, will be unable to keep up with the massive policing workload, which will hit when both the WireHead technology and the more common drug world – now long-since legalized – mix in an unprecedented way. The crushing weight of addiction will be inescapable for these immersive experiences and many will die simply while plugged in (victims of starvation or dehydration while inside their sim-world) – others, trying to live in reality and keep their families together will need to be tech-savy as well as government savy and gun savy, just to protect their own family. But you will need a permit to have a child. Those who produce without permit will face forced sterilizations put in place by some old government functionary named Sunstein, years ago.

Business – unless it is within the government, will be nearly non-existent in the legal sense. Instead, to avoid the killing weight of taxes, families will pull tighter together in larger units to include extended families. Several generations will live once again under a single roof. The specialties of all, will be called upon to make life bearable as most goods are purchased in the new black-market, and the education system – which had been responsible for teaching the young - has all but collapsed in most places. Luxuries will be nearly eliminated. It will be luxurious to have just one or two treasured things – carefully hidden - where the regular “break-in crews” cant find them.

Medicine will also go underground as the new addictions threaten even the tenuous social order, which by now is tattered beyond recognition. Doctors will become very important as new and old diseases come into play again. Even a simple infection will be deadly because on the market, the medicine may or may not be available. Universal Health Care, while passed years ago, soon devolved into a frozen piece of government gearing. A visit to any emergency room now means you’re likely to come away with a worse sickness after spending more than a day in lines waiting for care. In this respect, the more remote communities will be luckier because they will have a small chance of getting a traveling family doctor to show up on their doorstep. The rural communities stand a chance in this world, but the cities are devolving even more rapidly, and if they have not yet burned due to human acts or simply the lack of humans to maintain a complex infrastructure, they are the worst places to be on Earth right now. Life and death comes cheap to those who once had a purpose in these grey environs.

In this world, people at the bottom of society have begun selling body-parts and babies to the rich who are only too happy to have them. These items can mean longer lives for the wealthy and powerful – the one thing they still can’t control their own mortality.

The collapsed dollar will have given rise to a plethora of different currencies, but the average Joe or Jane will need to know the denominations for each and the daily exchange rate. They’ll need to be able to trust who they are dealing with, and they’ll need to watch their back, in the now very-dangerous streets. Homes will become more like fortresses and even young children will be trained in the use of dangerous protective equipment.

Emergency services in this world will work only a small percentage of the time – and then only with stiff bribes. What will happen to the unfortunate when they arrive at the hospital, however, will not be pretty. They will lay on blood soaked gurneys for hours with empty IV bags and parched lips and pain. But there won’t be a doctor around until morning and pain killers are in high-demand. If they are lucky, their family members may be able to get to the hospital and smuggle in some street drugs, food, liquid and bandages to keep them alive until they are seen the next day, still lying in the dried blood, half covered and cold in the same hallway where they were discarded the night before.

Still, the internet will be there – shunted through WireHead implants or for the technologically poor, across the government infected dirty laptop, now cobbled together from various parts which are spread across the warped piece of plywood your family uses for a desk.

The net is not the free-zone of ideas or data like your father told you about when he was alive - along with all those other ridiculous things which could never have been real – could they?

Could there really have been a time where people drove nice cars and wore nice clothes wherever they liked and never had to stop to show their papers to a government Youth Brigade officer? Could there really have been a time where you could go into a store and buy all manner of things – wandering for hours and even getting lost and distracted, there were so many fine, clean, safe goods on the shelves?

Could there really have been a time when almost everyone could get a good-paying job if they wanted it – and didn’t have to worry about union violence or the local WireHead gangs, or the bribes needed just to get through the day?

Could there really have been a time when dinner was more than what could be scraped from last-nights cans and the odd, sickly coyote you might be able to bag, limping in the desert on the long walk home? Could there have been a time when you didn’t need to carry a couple weapons wherever you went?

Could there really have been a time when people could say anything without being beaten or dragged off to the camps?

Was there a day when the word, “Freedom ,” didn’t have to be said under your breath? Was there ever a hilltop shining city called America? It sounds impossible - like Heaven (another word you have to be increasingly careful about using).

Your grandfather said he "knew this place" - that he finally recognized the remains of our republic. He gripped your hand as he died in that horrible hospital that morning and, eyes-wide, told you the truth about the country where you live.

"This is Somalia," he said. "We've finally managed to turn it into Somalia."

He died then, and you know you have no choice but to leave his body for the government "harvesters." Odd how quick they are to show up and dismember a body, seal all the usable parts away in cold storage so quickly, yet not a single doctor could be found when you really needed one to save his life. The "Death-details" are also johnny-on-the-spot, delivering consultations aimed at convincing the terminally ill to "donate" while some parts are still "fresh." There's a better chance of avoiding rejection that way, in the recipient, according to the government ads.

You let go of his hand and it falls limply to the side of the gurney. As an afterthought, you pull the worn, inadequate sheet up so that it covers his face - but it only serves to leave his bony, blue tinged feet sticking out instead. Murmurs at the back of your mind tug at your consciousness. The new WireHead plug you had installed is itchy and distracting and it's giving you a headache, but you feel much more placid and relaxed since you had the back-alley job done. It was government-subsidized, so why not?

You stare at the old man's hand before turning away for the last time.

You ask yourself, "Were we ever really alive and were we ever really free?" Inside your head, the imbedded search engine comes up with 967,324 hits.

You try not to focus on any of them.

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