The genius of America’s totalitarian system of government is that it is not totally total, and sometimes not very totalitarian at all. It is just total enough. Truly total government--"Your papers, citizen," stop-and-frisk, permission needed to travel from city to city--might spark revolt. By contrast, a sufficiency of totalitarianism, but not an excess, keeps the... Read More
I have followed China’s development, its stunning advance in forty years from impoverished Third World to a huge economy, its rapid scientific progress. Coming from nowhere it now runs neck and neck with the US in supercomputes, does world-class work in genetic engineering and genomics (the Beijing Genomics Institute), quantum computing and quantum radar, in... Read More
A few cheering thoughts on terrorism. This column specializes in cheering thoughts. Terrorism by Moslems in America and Europe cannot be stopped. If attacks do not occur, it will be because nobody tried very hard. Stopping them would require excluding Moslems, deporting them, or controlling them by totalitarian methods. Or, improbably, minding our own business... Read More
I read that Apple and Google have begun encrypting the data of customers so that nobody, including Apple and Google, have plaintext access to it. This of course means “so that the government will not have access to it.” The FBI is terribly upset about this, the first serious resistance against onrushing Orwellianism. God bless... Read More
How does one tell whether one is living in a dictatorship, or almost? The signs need not be so obvious as having a squat little man raving from balconies. Methinks the following indicators serve. In a dictatorship: (1) Sweeping laws are made without reference to the will of the people. A few examples follow. Whether... Read More
The pieces come together. Within the last week I have read: 1) New software, associated with Google, will recognize customers in stores so as to offer them discounts; having your photos uploaded to allow this service will (for now) be voluntary. 2) A new surveillance system in New York will store footage from cameras in,... Read More
A looming question: Is today's a'bornin' surveillance state in America an aberration? Or is it the unavoidable future of mankind? A spasm, like Prohibition, the Sixties, McCarthyism? Or an inevitable consequence of technological advance-something that must follow the spread of computers and networking as remorselessly as suburbs and shopping malls followed the automobile? Do we... Read More
I remember looking once, with a woman I know, at one of those subway maps with the arrow saying, "You Are Here." "You see?" she said somberly. "They always know where you are."Every year they get a little closer to always knowing were we are -- though I'm not always sure who "they" is. Or... Read More
A few years back I was chasing beans and bacon as a high-tech writer and ran across a company called Viisage,* whose business it was, and is, to make computers that recognize faces. Technologically, the idea was cute, though not original. A camera looked at your face. The computer then reduced your mug to a... Read More
Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.
He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers.