Category Archives: Commentary

Coca Cola – A National Security Threat

It seems like Coke’s latest marketing gimmick is a cause for concern in US national security circles. Coke has sent out cans that are wired with GPS locating devices and built-in cell phone that will call Coke’s headquarters if you’re lucky enough to get one of the cans…

It seems the security people feel it could be used as a listening device. Also, I’d think they might be a little concerned if the cans found their way into top secret installations – like modern Area 51’s or something – where the Coke Prize Wagons might show up one day.

Read a Seattle Times article

Ah, for the days of openness – no secrecy – no reason to hide…

As they say, you can win, but you can’t hide…

You can win, but you can't hide

Freedom vs. Security – Where Do We Draw the Line?

I must admit, I have not been following this issue closely. I think that is true for most people. But I’ve come to realize more and more that this issue is a fundamental one of our time – a determining factor on how we will continue to evolve together.

I have heard debates, mostly on talk radio, and a very few on the net, about the recent powers the US Government has granted itself after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. What I have heard should in no way be construed as what is actually out there – I have not researched the visibility of the issue at all.

It is very easy for us to make excuses and concessions related to the sacrifice of fundamental personal freedoms and rights in the interest of helping to avert any such similar, or even worse catastrophies in the future. To encourage, or allow to foster a more powerful police state that has the authority, if not the legal authority, to not only usurp our individual and collective Rights, but to commit acts of inhumanity in the purported interest of our larger well-being, is something to strongly consider – in the public eye and with the public’s voice.

Right now, people can be taken away, held indefinitely, given no legal counsel, interrogated in any number of ways, and even have evidence withheld that would exonerate them – all upon a whim, requiring no process whatsoever.

Is this happening? Yes.

We look back in history to our “McCarthy Era” and feel shame – how could we as a nation, and collectively as individuals, allowed such horrific things to occur? Well, it might be a good idea to start asking that question now, instead of waiting for historians to ask it decades from now – assuming they can (in a worst case scenario).

It’s strange – I’ve had friends say things jokingly on their cell phones about possible terrorist occurances, and how it might ruin their trip to the theater, or their dinner plans, then quickly qualify what they just said as a joke to appease the perfunctory judgements and actions of any listening, covert parties.

When considering what we’ve been told about airport security – how even joking can mean getting detained and questioned, even this speech on a cell phone may be cause for grave concern.

Today, while reading articles on security issues related to Linux, I ran across an article posted on the Free Internet Press:

Supreme Court Takes Up Guantanamo Case

It was the first I had learned that the issue was coming before the Supreme Court. This astonished me. I visited the article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and became even more astonished:

Democracy’s chance

Thinking I may be further out of touch with media buzz than I previously imagined, I checked CNN to see what was being said about this monumental occurance. I could find next to nothing. I searched elsewhere, though superficially, and found so very little.

I did happen to find an article in CNN that came out today, most likely in response to the Guardian article cited above:

UK slams U.S. Guantanamo trials

But the only article I could find in CNN’s archives, was a passing reference in late April:

Supreme Court to hear Gitmo appeals

How is it that we do no feel compelled to voice our concerns about a State that can do whatever it wants to its own citizens? How is it that we can claim to go to war in the name of Freedom, while at the same time eroding its very core?

Do we really, all of us, feel so trapped?

Yes, we must do our very best to make certain attacks never occur within our country again. And yes, it would be so nice if no attacks occurred all around the world!

But times like these are very trecherous – in more than one way. We must be mindful of ourselves, our leaders, and particularly mindful of our own hearts and minds.

SpaceShipOne

Well, we’ve gone and done it. The private sector is beginning to move into space at last. Yesterday’s successful flight of SpaceShipOne up to around 62 miles above the Earth, and into weightless conditions, marks the turning point for many things for us all.

The wild pioneer who piloted the vessel during this first is Michael Melvill, who may certainly earn himself a place in history as the first man not associated with a government agency to leave the planet (as far as we know, I suppose).

However, the journey is certainly not yet for us all, having been backed financially mostly by Paul Allen, the local Seattle Microsoft-made billionaire, whose interest in the fun, and oftentimes stranger aspects of life have both benefited and frustrated many of us.

Paul brought us The Experience Music Project – a museum of rock music paraphenalia – and the strangest looking building I have ever seen. It has no form, really – the shape being chaotic, both in geometry and color. Now he’s built the world’s first Science Fiction Museum. He also turned the completely wild and insane, but deeply loved, or deeply hated, listener-supported and listener-driven Seattle radio station, KCMU, run by the students of the University of Washington, into KEXP – a well-funded, massively upgraded, yet still listener-funded (who knows why?) station playing music from now designated playlists, but still very alternative (by comparison to utterly corporate backed sound), by DJ’s that seem to stay around forever and never push the envelopes. No longer volunteers. KEXP(experience) is still owned by the University of Washington, but no students have much involvement. Mostly, it’s world-renowned for its internet-based multimedia delivery and archival capabilities now.

Oh yeah – he also purchased the Seattle Seahawks so they would not be taken away down to Los Angeles, and they now have a big nice new stadium Seahawks Stadium – or rather, just recently, Qwest Stadium, right next to Safeco Field, which, if I’m remembering right, the voters voted down twice.

Paul actually does do quite a lot of nice things, and I truly believe his heart is in the right place – it’s just that other people get involved who really want money and things to make them feel good about themselves. And the man contributed a huge amount to the SETI project – where I’ve just contributed CPU cycles. Then again, there’s the Allen Telescope Array…

So yes, the common man has made it into space! But he’s still getting there with a little help from some pretty uncommon people. But no, indeed, it is not the government.

It’s interesting to see Bush’s desire to force NASA into delegating off all of its stuff to private sector industry – coincidentally today, a presidental panel reached the conclusion that NASA should look to private industry “to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA.”

So yes, the common man. Making it into space. The Everyman rising up, in the great whir of our machinary.

Mike Melvill and SpaceShipOne Seahawk Stadium Experience Music Project KEXP Radio Allen Telescope Array at SETI