It is a time of freedom and fear, of Gaia and of borders, of many paths and the widening of a universal toll road, emptying country and swelling cities, of the public bought into privacy and the privacy of the public sold into invisible data banks and knowing algorithms. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection.

These are the times when maps fade and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread.

Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.

Friday, November 29, 2002
In order to keep my mind stretched and nimble, I maintain a few varieties of daily mental calisthenics:
  • One is the daily managing of a challenging crossword.
  • Two is a simple drawing.
  • Three is reading some foreign language document.

None of these are things that I am particularly good at, and I suppose that is the point. It seems that as the years pass my brain seems to be following some natural narrowing tendency. Doing these sorts of things, I hope, will keep me open to other possibilities and ways of looking at our splendid universe.

I say this all as a way of introducing a wonderful book that I have just finished reading. It is in German, and entitled Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl. It concerns the White Rose Society, a group of young, idealistic anti-Nazi activists in Hitler Germany who were brave enough to stand up and stare in the face of fascism. Author Hermann Vinke tells this captivating story with a focus on Sophie Scholl, a student leader of the group who lost her life but who now has a German school named in her honor. Vinke writes in simple, clear prose, which makes his a good book for a beginning-to-intermediate reader of German. Reading this book has been a wonderful opportunity for me to work simultaneously on three levels, deepening my understanding of history, considering the value of self-sacrificial political ethics, and scraping the rust out of my language skills.

For those who cannot read German but who wish to learn more about the White Rose Society, I suggest The White Rose: Munich: 1942-1943.

Posted by Theodiclus Lock at 10:12 PM. # (permalink)

Sunday, November 24, 2002
Who wrote the following quote?

Click here to find out!

"In order to guarantee that the United States meets the challenge of this new means of commerce, communication, and education, government must be careful not to interfere. We should not harness the Internet with a confusing array of intrusive regulations and controls. Yet, the Clinton administration is trying to do just that.

The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications. The FBI wants access to decode, digest, and discuss financial transactions, personal e-mail, and proprietary information sent abroad -- all in the name of national security. To accomplish this, President Clinton would like government agencies to have the keys for decoding all exported U.S. software and Internet communications.

This proposed policy raises obvious concerns about Americans' privacy, in addition to tampering with the competitive advantage that our U.S. software companies currently enjoy in the field of encryption technology. Not only would Big Brother be looming over the shoulders of international cyber-surfers, but the administration threatens to render our state-of-the-art computer software engineers obsolete and unemployed.

There is a concern that the Internet could be used to commit crimes and that advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?

The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. Two hundred years of court decisions have stood in defense of this fundamental right. The state's interest in effective crime-fighting should never vitiate the citizens' Bill of Rights."

Posted by Theodiclus Lock at 7:45 PM. # (permalink)

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