Stealing the interwebs…

It probably says something about me as a human being that I didn’t have many issues with the Patriot Act, but the prospect of the government being able to seize control of “critical” networks during what remains an Ill-defined future “cyber-emergency” makes me nervous beyond belief. One of the first steps in any well-developed plan is to take control of or destroy enemy lines of communication. In the olden days that meant a would-be revolutionary needed to control the airwaves either by blocking transmissions, occupying the local TV and radio stations, or simply destroying them. In the 21st century, controlling communications basically means taking down the Internet and cellular capability.

Ponder it for a moment; no email, no cell phone, no VOIP, no SMS, no Blogger or Facebook. Now, how do you communicate beyond the people who happen to live next door? Yeah, I’m scratching my head on that one too. Now take into account the other everyday things you do online – like banking, ordering prescription refills from the pharmacy warehouse somewhere in Iowa, or looking at porn. How do you do those things in a world after a declared cyber-emergency?

Are you worried yet? You should be. Take away the Internet and all the other elements covered under the proposed cyber security bill and we’re basically only seperated from 1957 by the lack of tailfins and chrome. In a world built on the rapid transfer of data from one place to another, steal the Internet and you’re well on your way to launching your own revolution… Or at least keeping the masses uninformed until you’ve gone too far for them to do anything about it.

You know what causes that, right?

I’ve been trolling around the internet for the last few minutes and was struck by an article stating that the global population will reach 7 billion in about two years. That’s seven billion, with a “B.” It seems to me that the general consensus is that, really, the planet was basically full two or so billion people ago. If you really want to do something to save the planet, slow down with the procreating. Seriously, you know what causes that, right? I’m looking at you here third world. Yeah. I’m telling you to lay off the scrumping until you have the infrastructure and food to manage more people wandering around your countries looking for work or food or magic beans or whatever it is people look for in your country.

And just in case you think this is only going to be a rant about the poor developing nations, let me put my right wing friends on notice too: I’m not letting you off the hook for this. If you want foreign aid that might help some of these countries that are being overwhelmed by poverty and disease and generally being the ones most responsible for adding to the world’s population, tell your member of Congress that you’re in favor of packing up a few pallets of condoms and sending them overseas. In terms that we understand best, the bottom line is that there are a finite number of resources to go around. The more people there are on the planet, the smaller the sliver of the pie will be for all of us… So lets do our patriotic duty and get on board with some social engineering!

Come on, surely I’m not the only one out of slightly less than 7 billion who thinks exponentially larger populations are a bad idea.

Side effects…

Let’s pause for a moment and forget that this weekend I spent more money for five days worth of doggy antibiotics than I spend on a months worth of the drug that keep my stomach from exploding… Let’s also pretend that I know nothing about medicine (less of a stretch there) and for purposes of argument, we will assume that i have the mental capacity of an over-ripe eggplant. Now, I was reading the little print out that came with the antibiotics… Which is strange, as I don’t even read that crap about the medicines that I actually take myself. The very first side effect was “may cause diarrah”… Which gave me horrible flashbacks to earlier this spring when the steam cleaner came to live in my garge. That isn’t an unusual side effect of course. However, the last side effect listed was “may cause constipation.” OK, now you’ve got my attention… The all night vet has given me a miracle drug that either causes explosive pooping or no pooping at all. Isn’t that something that a fancy big city doctor could maybe narrow down a bit? Look, I understand all drugs have side effects, but in this case could we at least come to a consensus on whether it’s going to stop things up or blow them wide open? It’s just nice to know what enemy you’re going to be up against for the next few days, that’s all.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, at the end of 24 hours, the answer is neither. Go figure.

Simple…

I’ve never been one to subscribe to the “simple man with simple dreams” nonsense. I’ve lived with myself long enough to know better than that. Life is too complex to be distilled down to something as simple as a white picket fence… Or in my case a Berlin-esq wall patrolled by Blackwater. It’s got to be more complicated than that, right? It’s not that I object to simple, though… Just that if it’s so simple a caveman can do it I’ve never seen the point in wasting time with it.

At the moment, though, I’m starting to think that simple is what I need for a while. My thoughts turn to hopping a flight to somewhere with sandy beaches and a rum economy. Or better yet, to morning espresso on a Florentine piazza. In any case, there’s something appealing about just picking up and going. All the old classic signs are there that it’s time to take a break… Now it’s just a question of finding the time to make that happen. Looking at the calendar between now and the end of the year is not hartening. Knowing what I need is simple as pulling out a map and throwing a dart… Trying to figure out how to get there, now that’s hard.

Connected…

Time was when I wanted to be connected to everything. I mainlined cable news, devoured newspapers and magazines with a passion, and lived and died by the coverage strength of my BlackBerry. At the moment, all I want is to take a few days and manage to get disconnected. Even the iPhone is a bit odious at the moment. Of course now I’ve been jacked in to the grid for so long I don’t know that I’d even know what to do if I did manage to cut loose from it… Although I suspect it would involve some kind of convulsions or perhaps the development of a nervous twitch.

Fact is that I’m mentally worn out from unreasonable expectations from above and disappointing performance from other quarters and from too many factors that are well beyond my ability to control or account for. I know I’m not performing as well as I should be… Certainly not as well as others expect of me and far, far short of what I expect from myself. I’ve always believed in fighting the battles I could win and leaving the others for another day, but lately there have been far too many losing propositions; fights that could have been won if I would have been able to turn my attention towards them in time.

It’s a situation that is simply unsustainable and the solution isn’t to disconnect. I know that. The answer can’t be to throw up my hands and declare it all too hard to do. The only answer I know is to get it all back in focus and then to press forward. The “how to” on that is a little fuzzy at the moment… Rest assured that I’m working hard to figure it out. To be sure, it’s not going to involve disconnecting. For all the aggravation of being tied-in all the time, the thought of not being connected is that is quite simply more terrible than I can bear.

Get Un-American…

I promised myself that I was going to keep my peace on the healthcare debate; that I wouldn’t wade in and simply watch as the accusations and counteraccusations played out… and I’ve managed to keep it shut for a week, which may be a personal best record for me. The fact is that I’m not even sure if I need to be weighing in on this. Anyone who has checked in with any regularity knows where I’m going to fall on the subject. The issue that I’m most impassioned by isn’t the proposed healthcare plan at all, but rather that those who feel passionately about it and who speak out are labeled “un-American” by a Speaker of the House of Representatives.

There are crackpots everywhere. They control the far left of the Democratic party and the far right of the Republican party. They are everything from socialists to religio-fascists. But they have no less right to be heard than those of the silent majority who have remained relatively docile and have avoided staking out a position on either end of the political spectrum. The fact is, I think most of the country finds itself somewhere in the middle and tends to get embarrassed when the extremists on either side get too loud or gain to much press attention. Lord knows, I’m a proud conservative (at least on fiscal issues), but I cringe every time James Dobson or Dr. Laura show up with a microphone in front of their face. It infuriates me that they are the popular image of the American conservative, but I digress.

I like that the House website has nearly buckled under the strain of traffic that this debate has driven to it. I like that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are taking their elected representatives to tasks on both side of the aisle. I like that the administration has been struggling mightily to regain control of the message and make its points. It’s all together right and proper that all sides make their points and that this storm blow long and hard across the land. It’s the very lifeblood of America and gives me the vaguest sense of hope that the country has not become too passive to take on the hard issues.

So yes, friends, we owe it to ourselves to do what is hard. Read the bills that are before Congress and tell your elected representative what you think, not what the talking heads on CNN of Fox tell you. Do your homework and get informed. And if that means I’m un-American, I guess I’ll be ok with that.

My name is Jeffrey D. Tharp and I approved this message.

Aftermath…

I dearly love seeing my old friends. Despite the wonders of the electronic age, we all still pretty much suck at keeping in touch with one another. And nothing is quite the same as being together one more time and for a brief moment and putting aside our professional decorum, the responsibility of hearth and home, and for a while just being the guys again. No matter what anyone says, farts are still funny and there is something priceless in spending time with people who know all your mistakes and still put up with you.

Of course tere is also the aftermath of recapturing lost youth… when your body and brain remind you that despite your best efforts you’re not 17 any more… And there’s a reason you don’t stay out till 3 in the morning now. My gait was definitely a little slower this morning and I could have probably gone to bed right after dinner, but all things considered, I wouldn’t have missed this weekend for the world. Thanks guys!