There are obvious problems and challenges in even starting to address the current and ongoing matter of, as the title says, all the news of the moment that manages to avoid much notice. At any given time, there are great heaping piles of important, even urgent, news items that wind up not really being in the scope of what people take in as news, as “news consumers”.
My last note here ended up at somewhere around 3000 words, what would be considered a massive “long winded” chunk in the context of the writing form we now call “the blog”. That was just skimming things. Then, hardly anyone reads it. In the meantime, peruse “social media” and other segments of the WWW, and you can find yourself swamped by vacuous trivia and nonsense that often simply falls under the heading of “dumb shit”.
Things get weirder, and part of the weirdness is that in the midst of the dumb shit, even some things that seem ridiculous and trivial could be bigger news than it might seem at a glance.
In the realm of especially odd was an item about, I swear, I’m not making this up, a “smart” sex toy that apparently utilizes radio signals in wireless networking data transmission to send data about the use of a vibrator back to the manufacturer (or wherever it might end up). Have fun, ladies! I suppose that will be good for a giggle for people, but it should prompt some serious thinking on the general theme “just how complicated are we going to make everything?”. Then, of course, it might occur to people that along the way, some ideas about the concept of “private” might be considered.
Laugh about that one if you like, but right on the heels of that came another story about, well, yet another story about people being able to remotely take control of electronic systems of automobiles, with all their “smart” systems. Evidently, this means taking control of virtually anything in the car controlled by electronics, which, more often now, means everything. I mean everything. In some contemporary automobiles (including the light trucks that so many people regard as “cars” these days), virtually any kind of controls on the car involve some sort of electronic control, and, with trends and practices being what they are now so often, people just assume more and more that any electronics must be digitally controlled by some form of onboard computer, and any such device must be all tied together with all the rest, and then, with all the silliness about “connectivity”, it just must be connected by radio signals to… well, what?
I had my eyebrows raise a little, as I read the article I just linked about the Tesla control hack, and came across a statement that had been given by Tesla about the matter, saying that (with my emphasis of part of the text) “Tesla has already deployed an over-the-air software update (v7.1, 2.36.31) that addresses the potential security issues”. That’s right. The software controlling the car can be, and evidently is, changed by being uploaded to the car’s computer system remotely via radio signal connection, and it seems reasonable to guess that this can and maybe does happen without the driver even knowing about it. What could possibly go wrong?
Anybody who might follow the regular Thursday blog essays from John Michael Greer at The Archdruid Report (if you are not, you should) may have been reading the serialized story of “Retrotopia”. The most recent note from Greer was the first to come after the last part of the Retrotopia story. It helps to have the context of having already read the story before reading this followup, but in any case, it did a very good job of addressing a topic that Greer has already addressed before, often, and covered very well. The ironic thing in this is that in the process of addressing and analyzing a very important subject in a remarkably sensible, rational, realistic, and very articulate way, Greer probably would be regarded by many people, if they even knew of his existence, as some strange eccentric weirdo. The word “Luddite” is likely to be tossed around. I think it’s fair to say that the people who would benefit the most from reading Greer’s thoughts and giving them long serious thought are the most likely to completely ignore it all, while dismissing the writer as “some anti-technology weirdo”.
I won’t completely rehash what Greer wrote. Go read it yourself. He does a fine job of laying out the case for a sensible and rational understanding and perspective on technology in general, and what might simply be called appropriate technology. He points out the obvious, that right now in the present, there is just an increasing madness about technology (probably especially among people who like abbreviated lingo like “tech”), while all sorts of examples of technology present cases where people hang on to the idea that the latest of anything is inherently the greatest, even as so many things just get worse. Thinking for a minute about the Tesla case mentioned above, and their “over the air software updates”, should prompt a thought about the current farce involving the Windows 10 operating system from Microsoft, and their “updates”, even including doing their best to surreptitiously push the Windows 10 operating system on to computers running an earlier OS that have an internet connection live, regardless of what the machine’s owner might want.
Even if you narrow the focus to just the realm of computer software, aside from the basic foundation of operating systems getting massively bloated and sluggish and massively over complex, along with the loss of control involved, including privacy, there is the whole matter of application software, programs to actually do stuff. A large list could be compiled of programs that have existed for some time that have gotten worse, not better, with each “upgrade”. But then, Greer mentioned all that, along with problems existing in all sorts of technological territories. The earlier part of this note already brought up the problems found in automotive technology, where, in many ways, automotive engineering has vastly improved over the past few decades, but it all seems to be countered by so much managing to become much worse, mostly by extreme overcomplication and excessive everything, in the quest for “features”.
Alright, I think I am getting close to rehashing what Greer wrote. This is a subject that has my attention on an ongoing basis. Why? One reason is that my own life has been involved with technology for a long time, and I mean that I have been involved with technology for a long time, between general interests and education and work, on various levels, directly, and also in terms of using assorted technology in doing things, like making music for example. Another is that the problems of malfunction in technology throw themselves in my face more and more often, whether I encounter them myself in some direct and problematic way, or by way of other people’s problems with funny attitudes and notions about it. So I might come back to the subject later.
There was an item that popped up as a personal story from somebody, that was somewhat technology related, but launches us right back into other territory of ongoing strangeness. Their tale was of a saga of complications and problems beginning with their decision that they wanted Hillary Clinton to become President so much, they would give her money.
Things being what they are these days, they did not actually hand any currency of cash money to Hillary Clinton, or a representative. They made an offering involving a credit card number and a stipulation of an amount given as a single donation. They were unclear about the exact means of communication involved. Next, the story goes, the card involved was apparently having recurring monthly charges made on it by the Clinton campaign. The story then went on to say that he had contacted the credit card issuer and blocked further charges from the Clinton campaign, but then the Clinton campaign “got around that” and made more charges against the card, and he then finally actually cancelled his credit card account just to stop this.
He then went on to talk about not being happy (I would imagine so!), having a call in to the Clinton campaign (whatever that story might be, exactly), and that it has been reported on the Washington Post (whatever that means, I’m not sure).
There are probably a few things you could make of this unpleasant story. In the case of the guy involved, he suggested some things could be involved here, maybe “somebody at the bottom” of the Clinton campaign, or “RNC hackers” playing ugly games, or, another possibility. What’s that?
Wait for it…
The speculation also included that this might be the same “Russian hackers” who hacked into Mrs. Clinton’s email! That, of course, brings us back to the matter of there being loads of noise about “Russian hackers” being the source of the revealed email messages of Hillary Clinton while Secretary of State and doing her email communications on her own private domain on her own private email servers, although, as far as I know, there is no evidence of this being the source of the revealed emails, that have been put out into public view by Wikileaks.
But it could be Russian hackers! Furthermore, the credit card fraud victim speculated that his could be Russian intelligence hacking the Clinton campaign to, you can probably see this coming, influence the American election!
There are all kinds of ways to go from this one anecdote I read online. Just one of these is to dig into the idea that Russian hackers, maybe Russian intelligence, are hacking our institutions of democracy to influence the presidential election! OMG! Wait. Maybe that should be “OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!“.
This takes us into one of the strange memes that are banging around, revolving around the notions stuck in some people’s minds about Donald Trump and Russian President Putin being buddies and allies, or Trump as Putin’s fool and unwitting agent, or whatever it is. This sounds an awful lot like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? Would this then be a conspiracy theory?
The person sharing their Clinton campaign credit card problem is someone of I have mentioned anonymously before in this space. The general reason why this particular person keeps appearing in various items is simply because they serve as an unfortunate example of something too common- people who like to think of themselves as well informed, who have bought into all sorts of nonsense, while becoming more detached from news of reality. I vaguely remembered something and went digging through my past emails to find the item in question. Months ago, after I had pointed him toward an article about the neocon obsessions with Russia and their determination to somehow get control of the Russian government (along with any other national government not following their orders), I found myself copied on an email he sent to someone I do not know, including that link, passing it along to that person with the comment “from one conspiracy theorist” (meaning me) “to another”. A last added comment was “I stand back from this one, guys”.
Indeed. Like many other people here in the United States, he has stood back completely from allowing himself to get a whiff of truth about an assortment of ugly and problematic things happening.
One very interesting item came up in the form of an online editorial piece from somebody identifying himself as a speechwriter for the late Robert F. Kennedy, who declared that he intends to vote for Trump, and explaining why. I see a serious problem with the article in the writer’s apparent confidence in the intentions and nobility and basic honesty of Mr. Trump, but aside from that, ignoring the writer’s intention of who will get his vote, the general bulk of the article is absolutely dead on correct. Anything of this sort will be guaranteed to get a lot of people bouncing off the walls, and even pointing to such a piece is likely to get somebody declaring you to be “a Trump supporter” and going apeshit from there, but a huge fact that manages to be completely ignored by the sort of faction shouting “we must support Hillary, because Trump!” is that an amazing number of people who are thoroughly embedded in the neocon club, the cult many people mistakenly think are exclusively Brand R members, have surprised people by declaring that they would not support Trump, the Republican, and would instead support Mrs. Clinton and vote for her to be President.
In short, simple and succinct, she is the neocon candidate.
Here, I resume on another day after a break. As I write, last night was the first of the television theatrical productions referred to as “the 2016 Presidential Debate”. Mine own review of this comes down to something simple. I didn’t really watch it. To be specific, here is what I did actually do. Since I happened to be sitting at the computer doing something, I thought I would avail myself of the fact that the event was being transmitted out to the world via streaming video through the internet. I popped that up, and started watching somewhere in the middle of the proceedings. I lasted maybe a minute before I bailed out. I did this again from time to time, maybe four or five times, and each time, I stayed with it anywhere from a couple of minutes to as little as maybe twenty or thirty seconds before leaving it, thinking “why am I wasting my time with this?”.