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Has Orwell's '1984' Come 22 Years Later? 1272

Posted by Cliff
from the his-words-are-still-precient dept.
gabec asks: "This weekend my mother bought a grille lighter, something like this butane lighter. The self-scanner at Kroger's locked itself up and paged a clerk, who had to enter our drivers license numbers into her kiosk before we could continue. Last week my girlfriend bought four peaches. An alert came up stating that peaches were a restricted item and she had to identify herself before being able to purchase such a decidedly high quantity of the dangerous fruit. My video games spy on me, reporting the applications I run, the websites I visit, the accounts of the people I IM. My ISP is being strong-armed into a two-year archive of each action I take online under the guise of catching pedophiles, the companies I trust to free information are my enemies, the people looking out for me are being watched. As if that weren't enough, my own computer spies on me daily, my bank has been compromised, my phone is tapped--has been for years--and my phone company is A-OK with it. What's a guy that doesn't even consider himself paranoid to think of the current state of affairs?" The sad state of affairs is that Big Brother probably became a quiet part of our lives a lot earlier. The big question now is: how much worse can it get?
Am I just accustomed to old ways? Does the new generation, born with these restrictions, feel the weight of these bonds and recoil from my fears as paranoia? What can I, a person with no political interests--a person that would really rather think that the people in office are there because they're looking out for us, our rights, and our freedoms and not because their short-sightedness is creating a police state--do to stem the tide?"
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Has Orwell's '1984' Come 22 Years Later?

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  • Peaches? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcore (705121) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:57PM (#15803882)
    I don't think you can claim that the store told you that four peaches was a "restricted item" without at least explaining the situation a little bit further.
    • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Pax00 (266436) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:03AM (#15803905)
      Interesting thing about peaches is that they contain cyanide. [cdc.gov] From that respect I could see why the scanner would go off...
      • Re:Peaches? (Score:4, Funny)

        by TheDarkener (198348) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:37AM (#15804454)
        FTFA: cyanide is found in a number of foods and plants. In certain plant foods, including almonds, millet sprouts, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other naturally-occurring compounds.
         
        C'mon. I'd like to see you take all of this stuff up to the self-checkout and get a deep rooted anal search for it.

        What a day to shop.
      • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Eggplant62 (120514) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @06:43AM (#15805046)
        I think if I were confronted with that same situation, I'd say, "Excuse me?" I'd then say nothing more, leave the entire order there at the checkout, and leave the store.

        I refuse to shop with merchants who agree to help our currently corrupt government turn American into the Home of the Paranoid and Land of the Caged.
        • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Bogtha (906264) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @08:45AM (#15805284)

          I think if I were confronted with that same situation, I'd say, "Excuse me?" I'd then say nothing more, leave the entire order there at the checkout, and leave the store.

          That wouldn't do any good, you'd just get the person working the checkout calling you a crazy. If you're going to make a point, explain why you think it's stupid to the manager, and do it at the checkout queue.

    • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Funny)

      by filtur (724994) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:03AM (#15803906) Homepage
      I don't think you can claim that the store told you that four peaches was a "restricted item" without at least explaining the situation a little bit further.

      Maybe they were underage? :)
    • by StefanJ (88986) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:09AM (#15803935) Homepage Journal
      Please strip to your underwear and sit with your hands folded behind your head in preparation for a courtesy visit from your friends and fellow Class 1 citizens from Homeland Security's Produce Control Division.

      And stop thinking about goats when you play with yourself.
    • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:23AM (#15803989) Homepage Journal
      Besides peaches being a source of cyanide, also note that the only source of ricin [wikipedia.org], one of the most deadly poisons known to man, is castor beans.
      • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:12AM (#15804170) Journal
        Speaking of Ricin, US Patent 3060165 "Preparation of Toxic Ricin" is a famous example of a redacted patent. It is available from European sources [espacenet.com], though not from the USPTO.

        Although ricin has been prepared in crystalline conditions in the laboratory in small quantities, it becomes necessary for purposes of toxological warfare to prepare relatively large quantities in a high state of purity. This neccesitates that as much as possible of the nontoxic material present be removed in the process.


        This document [globalsecurity.org], however, implies that the production method described in the patent results in a impure mixture of various denatured proteins.
      • Re:Peaches? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Cappy Red (576737) <miketoon AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:44AM (#15804483)
        What's really interesting is that I would know about none of this if the scanner hadn't gone off and led to that anecdote.

        Not saying that that was why the scanner went off, or that steps must be taken to protect us from the fruits, but that high profile reactions to items perceived to be inoccuous can spread around information you'd rather stayed put.
    • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Funny)

      by binarybum (468664) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:41AM (#15804046) Homepage
      after oranges, peaches are known to be the second most popular weapons in Drive-by Fruitings [urbandictionary.com].

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:56AM (#15804311)
      1) Register error. There are things like alcohol that will flag a stop and check for ID situation, and of course it's controlled from the central inventory software. It's not like the register is concious of what you order, it just checks to see if item #X has an ID flag set. If it is, it stops the sale and asks the clerk to check ID.

      2) He's making shit up to try and be dramatic.

      I mean peaches certianly aren't globally restricted. We just bought some the other day, no problems, as I imagine millions of people did. You would hear about it if they were sending flags up all over.

      As for check ID items, it's up to the store how far they go. Like with alcohol I've had the entire range. Some simply dismiss the warning assuming fomr appearnace I'm over 21. Some check my ID each time. At grocery and convience stores they are usually more carefuly. Some check the ID and enter the birthdate in the register, some have you scan it in a little machine that checks. The most extreme case I saw was at a Frys which is near the university and a couple of high schools, thus lots of underage purchaes. They check your ID, record it, and make you sign the book they recorded it in.

      Basically it's the levle of CYA they feel necessary to not get fined/shut down. Fact of the matter is, someone will fool them and buy underage. Well if a fuss is made of it, the liquor board investigates. They then have to prove they took steps to stop that from happening. The liquor board deicded based on that if they were really trying and it was an honest mistake, or if they are being delibratly lax.

      thus the response depends on the store, it's not government mandidated, the government just says "You can't sell to minors and you are responsable for taking steps to make sure you don't." Up to you to determine the kind of steps and the proof you keep of them so you can defend yorself if need be.

      But ya, I am not seeing any federal peach crackdown here. If that's the case, we'd probably hear about it on CNN.
    • Re:Peaches? (Score:5, Funny)

      by 2Y9D57 (988210) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @06:11AM (#15804982)
      Peach seeds: ~40 ppm cyanide. Apricot seeds: ~500 ppm. Lucky you didn't buy apricots, or you'd be in Guantanamo by now.
  • by alshithead (981606) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:57PM (#15803883)
    "What's a guy that doesn't even consider himself paranoid to think of the current state of affairs?"

    First thought...more educated and informed than the masses of sheeples?

    Seriously, I think a lot of us feel the same way and see that we aren't on a slippery slope any more. We are plummeting down a sheer drop off. The way I see it the government and big business will control more and more of our every day life as we lose more and more privacy and individual choices. Some of us will get sick of it and cash out and go live off the grid in the most remote boondocks we can find and some of us will suffer in relative silence and reminisce over the "good old days" before we lost so much of our privacy and constitutional rights. Others will never notice they lost anything. Maybe there will be another American revolution some day to try and put back into place a government whose altruistic ideals can be effected indefinitely. Hell, 200+ years is pretty good when looked at in the big picture of history but eventually power and money corrupt those who should be looking out for the good of everyone. I guess this sounds kind of defeatist but take the federal minimum wage as an example. How come 30 million people have to try to live on $5.15 an hour? How are their voices not heard? How are our voices not heard?

    Money talks and the politicians and big business have the money.
    • by r00t (33219) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:28AM (#15804006) Journal
      Suppose we raise it to $60 an hour. Better? Would you still have a job?

      OK, that's too much. Well, how many lost jobs are acceptable? Can you give a number? If we raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and lay off 15% of the workforce, is that good?

      More money is great as long as YOU don't lose your job. Everybody, even those already on minimum wage, thinks it'll be the other guy who loses his job or that some rich guy won't be so rich. Sure, and pigs fly really well.

      To pay the cleaning people their new minimum wage, we can get rid of one web developer. The other guys can work overtime to make up the loss. Then again, maybe it's just time for the company to go bankrupt and get rid of EVERYBODY.

      It goes the other way too. A smelly drunk isn't likely to get hired at $5.15 an hour, but his value might be above zero. He deserves a chance to work. The same goes for the fat girl with acne that makes people feel ill, the guy who stares inappropriately, the lady who has conversations with her knuckles... They all deserve a chance to work.
      • by megaditto (982598) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:38AM (#15804036)
        I've got a better solution, which will also address the outsourcing issue: how about we raise the minimum wage in all countries outside America to $10,000,000,000/hour.

        And if they refuse to comply, we nuke them!

        There, solved it for you.
      • by miskatonic alumnus (668722) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:03AM (#15804134)
        Well, something has to be done. Take for example the poor man who can't afford health insurance: he waits until his health problems escalate, then goes to the emergency room. Not being able to pay, the hospitals increase their rates, and the insurance companies pass it on to their paying customers. So, those who can afford it will end up paying for the poor guy ANYWAY. Furthermore, if his problem stems from microbial infection, he may have the opportunity to spread the misery through the workforce before getting treated. This costs people and businesses even more money.

        The variance of the payscale needs to be reduced. The janitor's function in society is just as important as that of the CEO of Exxon, and he should be compensated at a level that enables him to pay for housing, utilities, health care, transportation, and a little extra for some fun. Why should extremely gifted or the extremely lucky be the only ones to partake of what life has to offer? It's a sad commentary on the history of human civilization that after 5,000 years we still haven't evolved beyond exploiting one another.
    • by ivan256 (17499) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:41AM (#15804051)
      Others will never notice they lost anything.

      You can't lose something that you give away.

      Most of those things he mentioned people think are great, because those things mean that they either get a bargain, or that they're protecting 'the children'. The rest of them people either don't notice or wouldn't care about even if you managed to successfully get them to understand why it is that you care about them.

      Maybe there will be another American revolution some day to try and put back into place a government whose altruistic ideals can be effected indefinitely.

      Yeah, right. Most of that stuff in the post didn't even have anything to do with state or federal govenrment. It was mostly corporate and people giving their privacy away under their own accord.

      The best part was where he described journalists as 'the people who are supposed to be looking out for him'. What a hoot. Somebody needs a lesson in capatilism, and some friendly advice not to be so trusting lest he look in the mirror and find out he's one of the people giving away bits of himself for no good reason.

      How come 30 million people have to try to live on $5.15 an hour? How are their voices not heard?

      Here's a hint: More than half of them aren't even old enough to vote if they wanted to (and if they were, they'd be statistically unlikely to vote anyway). The minimum wage is a heart-string issue. The Democrats tote it out to get emotional votes out of the section of their base that hasn't engaged their brain. It's the Democrats' version of school prayer.

      Not everybody needs to earn a living wage. Some people are dependents to other people, or are children. It is important that low wage jobs exist, or it would be difficult to get that first job that lets you start climbing the ladder. Stop and think, and read a bit. You will find that politicians and armchair economists are the biggest supporters of a minimum wage hike. It's never the people who are supposedly harmed by the low minimum wage crying for an increase, and most of the groups that advocate for those very same people think it's dumb too.... All those people want an expansion of the EITC [irs.gov] instead.
      • by plasmacutter (901737) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:18AM (#15804753)
        Here's a hint: More than half of them aren't even old enough to vote if they wanted to (and if they were, they'd be statistically unlikely to vote anyway). The minimum wage is a heart-string issue. The Democrats tote it out to get emotional votes out of the section of their base that hasn't engaged their brain. It's the Democrats' version of school prayer.

        wow.. you just trod all over your own argument.

        that leaves 15 million people who are earning below poverty wages who are NOT dependents of others... in other words they NEED a living wage and are not getting it.

        I have news for you people who complain about welfare leeches... half the time these people are pushed into that because if they make above a certain level of income.. they will be denied welfare, but their jobs will make them less than welfare!

        maybe if you raised the minimum wage, their jobs would make them more than welfare and they would not feel compelled to remain unemployed.

        So no.. it's not "the democrat's version of school prayer", it's a valid issue of exploiters paying sub-poverty wages, then lobbying for a "free market" whenever there is a push to raise those wages to a point where people can.. i don't know.. buy food AND a pay rent at the same time?
        • by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @08:01AM (#15805198)

          There are lots of arguments against rising minimum wage [house.gov], but let me give you mine:

          Money isn't free. If wages are raised (and it's not only the minimums that will be raised. Anyone with a half-decent employer or union will also get a raise) then everything has to go up in price so that employers can pay the new wage. It will provide a temporary respite for minimum wage earners, but in the long run, it provides nothing. Everything will balance back out, and in a capitalist economy, it will happen pretty fast. If the raise is announced beforehand, it might even drop before the wage hits so that it is balanced WHEN the raise hits, instead of after.

          I fully agree that something needs to be done about the millions who cannot earn a living no matter how hard they work. But maybe the problem is at the top instead of the bottom. Sports and movie stars that earn 10 million dollars per year ... Hmm, maybe that's a problem.

          Or maybe tax reform? I keep hearing about this 'flat tax' ... Assuming it's as fair as its proponents claim, maybe that should happen.

          Or quite a few other things that actually improve the situation for the people we are trying to help, instead of just looking like it improves the situation.

  • Just walk away (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndroidCat (229562) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:59PM (#15803887) Homepage
    Id for grille lighters and peaches, huh? And why didn't you just walk away loudly commenting on the store's idiotic policy?
    • Re:Just walk away (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:28AM (#15804009)
      Id for grille lighters and peaches, huh? And why didn't you just walk away loudly commenting on the store's idiotic policy?

      The peaches incident was probably a register mistake. But in a number of states you need to be 18 or older to purchase a lighter by state law. I tried to purchase one once when I was 17 so I could burn the trash out back like I had done every week for nearly a decade, and I was denied. Apparently the law presumes that lighters will only be used for smoking, and couldn't be used for things like, you know, burning trash, or making smores. It's another classic example of lawmakers restricting a wide spectrum of basic freedoms to fight a single pet cause of self-endangerment.

      This is the same mentality as occurs in sweeping laws to fight "child pornography", and sweeping laws to fight violence in video games, and sweeping laws to protect people from the internet, or the prevention of pseudophedrine purchases for fear of meth labs getting it. If we could get people to stop asininely voting for politicians on the basis of those pet causes, then freedom would not be encroached nearly as much as it currently is.

      What we are living in is a culture war between people who want personal freedom, and people who are immersed in irrational emotional fear.
      • Re:Just walk away (Score:4, Insightful)

        by misanthrope101 (253915) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:27AM (#15805626)
        It's another classic example of lawmakers restricting a wide spectrum of basic freedoms to fight a single pet cause of self-endangerment.
        That's like blaming lawsuits on lawyers, not on the people who hire them. Government by definition will try to expand its scope and power. The problem is when you have a population that is too stupid, or is ideologicaly polarized, or has too short of an attention span, or is too ignorant, to think of it as a problem. The U.S. is a bit strange right now, because the very ones expanding government power the fastest are saying that they believe in small government, even as they expand government. You have a nation of people who are failing to notice the blatantly obvious. Even when issues like the NSA wiretapping case, or torture in Iraq, shine a glaring, flashing, bright light on the issues, people just refuse to talk about it. People just don't deal well with complexity. They can't reason out a position, because they have been cornered into a black and white, good-vs-evil worldview where there is just no nuance to be had. People are discontented, but most of them are going to vote Republican anyway because of abortion or gay rights, so their objections to the deficit, or to Iraq, are irrelevant. But they have to be internally consistent, so once they've decided to vote Republican, they can't really object with any enthusiasm to the wiretapping case, or to torture in Abu Ghraib, or anything else. The same applied to Clinton supporters, and probably applies to politics everywhere, but it's always galling to witness.

        The book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini has a great chapter on how people can be made to agree to big things they wouldn't otherwise support by getting them to agree to little things that seem innocuous, and even unrelated, earlier on. Once people are brought on board via their objection to gay marriage or any other social issue, they can be expected to buy the rest of the platform, bit by bit, because they don't want to abandon their original committment. Well, that and the fact that they don't want to be associated with Michael Moore, which I can completely understand.

  • IT'S GO TIME BABY!
  • by aldeng (804728) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:02AM (#15803900)
    "The big question now is: how much worse can it get?" Wrong. The big question is what are we going to do to stop this. It's our government, dammit.
    • by StefanJ (88986) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:24AM (#15803994) Homepage Journal
      No, I'm not a libertarian.

      I would be if they were balls-out scrappers for freedom and liberty for all humans. But too often they stop at property rights, and assume that a good round of deregulation and tax cuts will fix everything else.

      Freedom and rights have to be fought for. The enemy isn't just the government; it includes corporations.

      Human rights must come before corporate rights. Too many Libertarians I know seem uncomfortable with that.

      So, which party to turn to? Right now, there's no clear choice. But for now, the first step is denying Bush the convenience of a rubber stamp congress.

      That means holding your nose and voting Democratic this fall.

      And stop being afraid.
    • by Almost-Retired (637760) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:44AM (#15804061)
      "The big question now is: how much worse can it get?" Wrong. The big question is what are we going to do to stop this. It's our government, dammit.

      The only way is to clean house, senate, and white house all in the same general election. Otherwise the old boy network continues uninterrupted because at the end of the day, the party affiliation doesn't mean as much as just maintaining the so-called elite group in power.

      The last time around I couldn't stomach either of the republicrat parties candidates, gave it a bit of thought & voted libertarian. ISTR My wife felt the same way & voted green. So they got one vote each in our home county. Big fscking deal. OTOH, if enough of us have had it with these lying jerks to do something about it, THEN WE CAN FIX IT. BUT, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO GET OFF OUR COLLECTIVE FAT ASSES AND DO IT! DON'T JUST VOTE IN THE LESSOR OF THE 2 MAIN EVILS, VOTE IN SOMEONE WHO HONESTLY THINKS AS WE DO, THAT THE POLICE STATE GEORGE ORWELL DESCRIBED IN '1984' HAS GONE FAR ENOUGH AND ITS TIME TO SWING THAT PENDULUM THE OTHER WAY. And I frankly don't give a damn if a few wanna be Ken Lay's jump out of 40th floor windows as things get back to an even keel.

      Go talk to the candidates face to face, and if you cannot get that close, then they are too damned paranoid and don't deserve your vote. I've stood literally nose to nose with the govenor of this state, telling him his pet project was going down in flames (and it did) but neither of us had any worries about that nose to nose confrontation. He is an honest, approachable human being that despite our differences, got my vote the last time based on his performance in that situation.

      Participation in the political process is what this country was founded on, and those that sit as couch warmers, and base your votes on party lines, what Bill OReilly says, or other mainstream media propaganda artists, fully deserve the traitorous, sell out to the highest bidder, representation you'll get. This may be the last time we get a chance to fix things because if it continues with the present erosion of private, personal freedoms at the present rate, you won't recognize the election as a democratic process by 2012 unless you are one of the sheeple we denigrate here on /. so often...

      The choice is ours to make, and we should make it as wisely as we can. We, as a whole, voted ourselves into this box, and hopefully we can vote our way out of it. We at least owe the republic a try at fixing it.

      --
      Cheers, Gene
    • by nitsew (991812) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:01AM (#15804331)
      yeah right...

      #begin redundant Thomas Jefferson Quote

      "When the Government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the Government, there is tyranny"

      #end Thomas Jefferson Quote

      I fear the government. It is no longer ours.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:03AM (#15803902)
    Don't forget that it's not just about privacy. The government basically has to create a state of perpetual fear, stir up hatred of the enemy, torture people, have an ongoing war, control information, and basically convince you to willingly see things that are false.

    Now, don't get me wrong, but I don't think we've come to that yet.

    cough cough fake terror alerts hussein abu ghraib war on terrorism fox news wmd in iraq cough
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:44AM (#15804062)
      Now, don't get me wrong, but I don't think we've come to that yet.

      How will we recognize it when we do?
    • Perpetual war (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zoeblade (600058) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:56AM (#15804519) Homepage

      The government basically has to create a state of perpetual fear, stir up hatred of the enemy, torture people, have an ongoing war, control information, and basically convince you to willingly see things that are false.

      In terms of the American government making their whole country's citizens paranoid that even their neighbours could be some kind of enemy against their ideology, wasn't this achieved in the fifties using the buzzword "communist" a long time before it was done using the buzzword "terrorist?"

  • Listen closely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DesireCampbell (923687) <desire.c@gmail.com> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:05AM (#15803911) Homepage
    This isn't a real question, this is a thinly veiled attempt at getting a conversation going about how terrible the US government is.

    Yes, there's a lot of censorship and surveillance going on. Yes, we have to be vigilant about everything we've heard.

    My fear is, the fact that we find out about these domestic wiretaps, secret European prisons - means that the people put in charge of these things are morons. Most people in the position to be doing important secret 1984-type dealings are smart. The things we know about are pretty bad - how much worse are the things we don't know about?
    • Re:Listen closely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zCyl (14362) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:16AM (#15803957)
      My fear is, the fact that we find out about these domestic wiretaps, secret European prisons - means that the people put in charge of these things are morons. Most people in the position to be doing important secret 1984-type dealings are smart. The things we know about are pretty bad - how much worse are the things we don't know about?

      So are you proposing that we should or should not keep electing morons? Your argument could go either way...
  • defend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MECC (8478) * on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:06AM (#15803913)
    Defend freedom of information from government and corporate influence.

    That's what really protects freedom, liberty, democracy, and people's rights. If you're lucky.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:07AM (#15803919)
    The sad state of affairs is that Big Brother probably became a quiet part of our lives a lot earlier.

    Disagree.

    Most of these things came from the Bush administration. The last 6 years has been a cancer eating away at the very fabric of what it used to mean to be american.

    Phrases like 'truth, justice, and the american way' ring very hollow these days...especially to the rest of the world.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:07AM (#15803921) Homepage Journal

    1984 was about the state controlling everything. In the current situation, the state is peering more heavily into everything we're doing because a lot of people are so afraid of Islamic terrorists that they're willing to give the state more power. This may or may not be a temporary situation, but the state obviously hasn't reached the level of control that Big Brother did in 1984.

    As for corporations watching what you do, the real question is whether Microsoft checking to see if you're using a pirated version of their software is somehow going to affect your political rights, or if it is just a stupid move on their part that will only push customers away from their products. After all, you only have one state. You can choose software vendors.

    • by honkycat (249849) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:24AM (#15803995) Homepage Journal
      I'm not a huge fan of sippery slope arguments (although I do think the sentiment is often in the right place), but do you think we need to wait until things are as bad as they are in 1984 before reacting? The real government may not be as authoritarian as the one in the book, but a major element that allowed that in the book to enforce its rules was the existence of the surveillance technologies. We are clearly at or very near a point that matches the technical sophistication in the book.

      We need to be careful to keep this technology from being used for ill. When something that's "kind of bad" is proposed, we need to react STRONGLY. Rights have a way of being chipped away and it's usually through violent conflict that these rights are regained. Better to protect them in the first place.

      Further, it doesn't really matter who it is that's doing the surveillance. If Walmart has the information, it's only a subpoena from being in Uncle Sam's hands...
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:08AM (#15803926) Journal
    What can I, a person with no political interests--a person that would really rather think that the people in office are there because they're looking out for us, our rights, and our freedoms and not because their short-sightedness is creating a police state--do to stem the tide?
    It should be obvious, but I'll spell it out:

    Get some political interests

    Sticking your head in the sand will not help. So pull it out, shake out the sand, and get involved. And I don't mean you should flip a coin, pick the red team or the blue team, and blindly follow them.

    I mean that you should get active in holding your elected officials accountable for their actions, regardless of their party affiliation. Keep up on the issues and be vocal about them. Read and listen to opposing points of view and try to form and propagate valid opinions. Make sure your representatives know that someone is watching them, and follows what they do. If they lie, cheat, steal, or sell you down the river, nail them. Vote them out in the primary if you can, and in the general if you can't. Cross party lines if you need to, because you are far better off with an honest member of the opposing party than one of "your own party" who is willing to sell you to the devil for a few hookers.

    And, for that matter, do the same with your news outlets. And your local ballot boxes. If we paid half the attention to keeping the system honest that we do American idol or celebrity babies, we wouldn't have this problem.

    --MarkusQ

    • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:00AM (#15804124) Journal

      If you're interested in reading the account of someone who started out pretty much where you are, except that he's an attorney specializing in constitutional law, you might want to check out How Would a Patriot Act [amazon.com]

      From the back cover:

      Glenn Greenwald was not a political man. Not liberal, not conservative. Politicians were all the same and it didn't matter which party was in power. Extremists on both ends canceled each other out, and the United States would essentially remain forever centrist. Or so he thought.

      Then came September 11, 2001. Greenwald's disinterest in politics was replaced by patriotism, and he supported the war in Afghanistan. He also gave President Bush the benefit of the doubt over his decision to invade Iraq. But, as he saw Americans and others being disappeared, jailed and tortured, without charges or legal representation, he began to worry. And when he learned his president had seized the power to spy on American citizens on American soil, without the oversight required by law, he could stand no more. At the heart of these actions, Greenwald saw unprecedented and extremist theories of presidential power, theories that flout the Constitution and make President Bush accountable to no one, and no law.

      --MarkusQ
  • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:09AM (#15803932) Homepage Journal
    I particularly enjoy how I can't shop for good deals on my doctor-recommended loratidine with decongestant that I take every day for my allergies. Apparently, if I purchase more than 15 pills of 240 mg pseudoephedrine each in one day I am obviously running a meth lab.

    I never knew. I guess the government knows me better than I know myself. Thank you, government, for stopping me from creating a narcotics lab that I never knew I wanted!

    The peach situation baffles the hell out of me though.
  • by amrust (686727) <marcrust@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:11AM (#15803940) Homepage
    Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the WalMart front. In honor of the massive overfulfillment of the ninth three-year plan... it's been announced that the NASCAR T-Shirt ration is to be increased to 3 per month!

    DoublePlusYeeHaw!
  • by Zelph (628698) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:11AM (#15803945) Homepage
    I was ID'd for a lighter the other day. Now, I am a bit younger looking, and I know that restricting lighter sales is the first step to restricting consumption of other products. In California, and at a Walmart, at that. The real issue that would make me start to worry is data aggregation. And that is where I think it all falls apart (knock on wood). If they could aggregate all the data of my purchases, communications, etc, I would be a lot more worried. If you ARE paranoid, a major step to eliminate tracking is to go cash only. Stop using electronic payments of any kind. Stop using grocery discount cards too. They track spending habits.

    But again, data aggregation is key, and they don't have that yet.
  • by grapeape (137008) <(moc.rr.ck) (ta) (7epopm)> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:17AM (#15803967) Homepage
    just about the only freedom left is the right to free speech and even that is at times questionable. I used to concider myself a libertarian but leaned republican in elections, now im so ticked off at the state of the world my friends all think ive gone all Che Guevara. I'm just sickened by all the steps taken to "secure" me, what good is it without freedom? I guess im in the majority but I would rather take my chances a bit than deal with some of the BS that is going on now.

    The constitution isnt perfect but its alot better than what we have now.
  • We're at 1983 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pjt48108 (321212) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `80184tjp'> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:23AM (#15803993) Homepage
    1984 is when the authorities catch a clue.

    Or, as Benny hill once said in a sketch, "My dog likes to chase cars, but if he ever caught one, he wouldn't know what to do with the damn thing!"

    Right now, the powers that be are dogs chasing cars, but they are close to figuing out what they'll do when they catch one.

    Enjoy this moment while it lasts.
  • What privacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MoneyT (548795) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:25AM (#15803996) Journal
    Let's take a way back machine a little bit. Way back before big faceless corporations, people shopped at corner stores, where the manager knew them by name, knew what their regular order was, and for the habitual customers even had the order ready before the customer came in the store. You couldn't get yourself into too much trouble because everyone in town knew you on sight and all of your local relatives. More often than not the cops knew you by name, and not because you were in trouble but because they were as much a part of the community as you were. Privacy hasn't gone anywhere. If anything the world today has given us MORE privacy than ever before. The difference is not the level of privacy but the range of interested people. Before you worried about the local cops. These days, you only wory about them because they can pass the information to the feds whom you're really worried about. Privacy really honestly does not exist, unless you act in a way to preserve it. In the old days that meant shutting your blinds and not leaving your house. Well you have to do the same thing these days, just electronicaly. Sorry, you can't have a credit card if you want privacy because it isn't your money, it's theirs, and so they have an interest in what you buy. Likewise for your internet and phone connections, use a public service, expect it to be public. The only way to have privacy is to keep to yourself. People don't keep to themselves because it's anti social and destructive. But like it or not, there really wasn't ever any such thing as privacy.
  • eightyfour (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BandwidthHog (257320) <inactive.slashdo ... icallyenough.com> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:25AM (#15803997) Homepage Journal
    It wasn’t really about the surveillance. That was merely a plot device. It was about a state of mind and the means to achieve that state.

    In the superficial sense, i.e. electronic surveillance, much of what you mentioned has fallen into place over the past ten to fifteen years. And most of it has been implemented by commercial interests. As for the mindset? I, and I’m sure a whole lot of others around here, would say that the overwhelming majority of it has sprung up in the body politic within the past 58 months.

    May you live in interesting times, comrade.

  • by Catamaran (106796) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:29AM (#15804010)
    Orwell was writing about contemporary society. We have been living 1984 for a long time.
  • by ptaff (165113) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:34AM (#15804026) Homepage

    Everytime you play the proprietary software game, you lose a bit of your freedom and get nearer to Orwell's world.

    How can you be sure your software is not spying on you? For 1 caught Sony case, how many lesser known applications violate your privacy? Not even counting keyloggers and other obvious malware. XP phones home. How many other apps do that?

    Even in the political world, proprietary software brings us closer to 1984. Seems every voting machine provider uses closed software, supposedly for "security". How can we trust these black boxes?

    In the good old days of desktop computing without a network, closed source software could be trusted to keep your privacy; there was not any way to transmit the information anyway. But now, any trivial program is able to report your activities to the whole world.

    Seems to me proprietary software is a dead end when privacy is involved.

    If I told my great-great-great-great-grandmother that in the year 2006, most homes would have a box spying and reporting people activities, backed by the richest company in the world, she'd probably laugh. I'm not.

  • by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange&alumni,uchicago,edu> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:41AM (#15804047) Journal
    What needs to happen now is for people to understand what is going on. This kind of activity has a draining effect on society, basically sapping them of their notion of "freedom." Ask your neighbors, your parents, your kids, your peers: many of them will tell you that they don't mind that they are being treated like criminals. "Why worry if you're not doing anything wrong?" is the typical response. These people don't understand what "freedom" means. These days the word has come to mean "freedom to love America" when in fact it's the opposite we need to allow. So you can start by making sure the people you know, and others if you can, that if our freedom does have a chance of disappearing, and you need to educate them as to what that means.

    I'm not saying that this is happening now, though. We're getting closer, but the real danger comes from people who will welcome it when it comes. The single most important battle to be won is in the battle of ideas - that's politics these days.

    The other thing you can do is begin securing all aspects of your life. Try and use encryption over the internet; encrypt your emails and messages. Start using cash to buy stuff - the Japanese do it all the time; paying with credit or debit at a store is pretty much rare in Japan. Refuse to buy from the grocery store if they require your drivers license to prove you won't make cyanide when you buy peaches (are peach trees illegal now??).

    But important: if you DO make a fuss, DO NOT LOOK LIKE AN ASSHOLE. This is probably what most of you are capable of doing. If you do "fight the man," please do so in an orderly, respectful, and unannoying manner. If you get asked for your license at the grocer's, don't scream about it - people want to get through the line. Simply refuse to purchase from the store, and explain to those around you that you are being asked for your driver's license to buy peaches. The worst thing that can happen is for your ideals to be tied in with obnoxious behavior (this is what happened to liberals).
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:45AM (#15804272)
      "Why worry if you're not doing anything wrong?" is the typical response. These people don't understand what "freedom" means.

      The kind of argument to which you refer is really kind of fascinating, when you probe into it. It is often given by otherwise intelligent people, and yet it belies an astounding trust and faith in remote authority figures who are presumed to be always honest, diligent and conscientious. Our overseers always have our best interests at heart, and would never seek to harm us for their own greed or avarice.

      Wherever do you find that kind of blissful relationship with authority? Why, with your own parents, of course, when you were a small child.

      The "intelligent" people that give this argument often don't literally believe in the incorruptibility of authority. But what they are doing is to create a comforting fantasy for themselves in which unseen government officials take the place of mommy and daddy, watching over us all and guaranteeing their safety. Once this fantasy womb has been created, it becomes unimaginable that they might ever be the target of abjectly malicious government authority. It would be like your loving parents turning on you with no cause or warning.

      It is ironic that this most often afflicts conservatives, who otherwise like to rail on about the "nanny state" in economic contexts.

      The more we are fearful, the more likely we are to construct this parental fantasy around our government. This is something that people like Karl Rove understand all too well.

  • Wrong dystopia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apflwr3 (974301) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:53AM (#15804093)
    When's the last time you read 1984? The fact that you can post this question on Slashdot, that you can go to a store and have a selection of products (and have the money to pay for them), even the fact that you have a girlfriend suggests we aren't living in the totalitarian "future" of Orwell's book. Orwell was reacting to Stalinist Russia, and we're about as far in the opposite direction now as you can get from that-- it's a lot more like the capitalism-run-amok chaos of a Gibson or Dick novel.

    Hell, many of the examples you gave are about corporations trying to peg exactly who you are to market to you, not some Big Brother entity who wants to enslave you. I would even venture to say that the powers-that-be aren't really afraid of outspoken political speakers any more. It's become so easy to express your thoughts to the world, and there are so many people doing so, it's almost impossible for one person (no matter how charismatic or persuasive) to sway enough opinions to matter.

    I could be wrong, and the jackbooted thugs and black helicopters could be waiting around the corner... But I don't think so. I think the reality is everyone just wants your money. And they want your data, but only because it will lead them to your money.

    • Re:Wrong dystopia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Politicus (704035) <salubrious@ym[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:16AM (#15804377) Homepage
      The analogy was correct with respect to newspeak, "Healthy Forests Initiative", "Clear Skies Initiative", "Operation Iraqi Freedom", surveillance, indoctrination, militarism, "The US has always been at war with Al-Qaeda", nationalism, political use of fear and hatred and institutionalized ignorance, "Intelligent Design", "Stem cell research is murder". The only aspect that doesn't fit the analogy is socialism but you can have both right and left authoritarian societies. For every Stalin and Saddam, there's a Pinochet and Franco.

      If you are comfortable living in a space 10' a side, then you'll never notice the 12' square cell that you're in. American statism has been so successful precisely because controls are hidden since overt controls foment discontent. People are indoctrinated with American exceptionalism from birth. It is a very powerful myth and the backbone of control. Conformity is constantly being reinforced by your employer, church, school, college, customers and the media. Commercial consumerism is the modern day soma, to borrow from another dystopia.

      The main difference between 1984 and 2006 is that the state doesn't bother dealing with those who try to affect it rather than submit to its power because it only needs to neutralize effective dissidents. So, Noam Chomsky, for example, is allowed to do his thing because his message is neutralized by lack of access to mainstream media and the media's noise thrown up against it. Those who can't be reigned in by typical controls are incarcerated, disappeared or killed, "suicided" is the CIA term, as in any traditional authoritarian regime.

      * WAR IS PEACE

      * FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

      * IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @05:05AM (#15804852)

    What can I, a person with no political interests--a person that would really rather think that the people in office are there because they're looking out for us, our rights, and our freedoms and not because their short-sightedness is creating a police state--do to stem the tide?"

    You would rather think that X is true -- even if you know that X is not true?

    As Dilbert once said to a girl while on a date after she said she believed in something that most of us know to be crazy, "since when did belief become a substitute for fact?"

    Why should elected officials give a damn about you? Look at Congress: they have a 92% re-election rate. If you had an "A"-grade chance of re-election, would you be particularly-concerned with what a few of your paranoid, nuttier constituents think? Of course not. If you care at all about your constituency, you follow what the majority wants and give it to them: pork-barrel projects and security from whatever boogeyman-of-the-week may be.

    Elected officals have very little incentive to look out for you or your freedoms. The history of the U.S., to say nothing of the history of virtually every other nation in the world, ought to be evidence of that. And the history of un-elected officials is even worse.

    Go start a religion if you cannot handle reality. You can't handle the truth. But to answer the question: there's nothing you can do. See below.

    Am I just accustomed to old ways? Does the new generation, born with these restrictions, feel the weight of these bonds and recoil from my fears as paranoia?

    I am between the ages of 18-25. Do I qualify as a member of the "new generation"?

    If I do, then I can say that the sort of post-9/11 pro-security, anti-privacy, anti-freedom paranoia is rampant among my generation. We saw 9/11 and said "where's Big Brother to save us? We've got to do whatever it takes to stop all terrorism!!" (yes, I actually had one person my age say this to me) -- as if that is somehow an achievable goal. I make my usual libertarian arguments, and I occasionally find people who are sympathetic, but by and large, people my age don't give a rat's ass about privacy, and will routinely make fun of privacy-minded people (like me, natch).

    Terrorism is the new communism, and it's easier to be blinded by emotion than to run life through the filter of rational, critical, unemotional thought, and so the fear of terrorists overtakes the fear of information abuse that results from invasion of privacy.

    Of course, over time -- and by that, I mean over the course of 3-4 years or more -- I find more and more of them very-slowly coming to the conclusions about privacy I came to a decade ago; only, I came to them deductively and predictively, not reactively; I haven't yet been severely-burned by a lack of privacy, whereas some of them have. ("The best revenge is living well", I suppose.)

    But none have approached my level of distrust for authority (whether government or business), and I'm not nearly as paranoid as many people on Slashdot: I don't wear tinfoil hats, I don't route my Internet traffic through Tor, I don't reject the advancement of RFID chips in ID cards (although I vehemently oppose national ID systems, such as the U.S.'s REAL ID Act, and the national IDs of most other nations around the world). I no longer GPG-sign my email, and no longer run a node for encrypted, application-layer-routed P2P network. I use encryption whenever possible, but I don't demand that friends and family use PGP/GPG, nor that they use encrypted IM clients. They will never adhere to such demands, and requiring them would leave me friendless.

    All my most privacy-conscious friends/family are computer geeks; all my least privacy-conscious friends/family are (largely) computer-illiterate. I do not believe this to be a coincidence.

    The truth of the world is that you cannot trust anybody until they prove themselves

  • by blackest_k (761565) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @06:15AM (#15804988) Homepage Journal
    it's not much different here either, except perhaps the ASBO or antisocial behaviour order. These didn't seem to bad as they were applied to individuals, well some were farcical asbo to stop someone with tourets swearing. asbo to stop someone going in thier garden in a bikini. perfect for every niggling little nieghbor dispute...

    however there is another side to the asbo, the asbo that gets applied to an area
    I bring you skegness's asbo
    http://skegnesstoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?Secti onID=809&ArticleID=1652470 [skegnesstoday.co.uk]

    now whats the big deal, well for one it gives police the powers to arrest anyone within that area for anything - you do not need to break any law. If they think you might break a law at a later point its enough, more than enough to satisfy the conditions of the asbo order. To be honest there is no restriction on the police at all because legal illegal it doesn't matter, since enter the asbo controlled area and you could be fined £5000 or go to prison for 6 months. It all depends on the individual police officer.

    saving britain for decent folk thats the excuse

    now how more 1984 do you get than that, when there are no criminals you make them. what is even more alarming is that this is just not being reported. The skegness standard is not widely read even in skegness. This is a complete change in the rule of law and no one appears to give a damn everybody assumes it will not apply to them but they don't see that before the difference was they broke the law and you didnt. now that distinction doesn't apply.
  • by master_p (608214) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @08:56AM (#15805316)
    Right now we are on the verge of our society (internationally, not US only) collapsing, historically speaking: there are many conflicts around the world, and the potential for a global war breakout is big.

    But this has happened again. In history of Greece, Athens was the mighty superpower that dominated the rest of Greek cities; but the Greek civilisation died a slow and painful death with the Peloponnisian war that lasted 30 years and destroyed everything (and it was a war filled with hate; no rules obeyed).

    But then a new world emerged. After a few centuries, it was the Roman empire that fell: divided in two, conquered by Islam and the tribes from the North. Kings reigned Europe and the rest of the western world, for a long period of time; people were opressed by religion and the various kings that had a right of life and death over their people. But this world collapsed too: the French revolution, the American revolution and others brought down the old world.

    And then another new world emerged. The world of capitalism...the world of enterprises. The world of profit, where profit is God and machinery is King. Democracy and human rights were given a stronger presence in this new world...it is the world we are today.

    But it is not gonna last long. It will fall down, just as the previous worlds. Greed and hunger for power will destroy this world too. People want to control other people, and technology helps them to to do.

    The future holds great revolutions, by the people who have nothing to lose; by all those living in the gutter, in the streets, under bridges. Right now these people are a minority..but when they are a majority, the dawn of a new world will be close.

  • Wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grimwell (141031) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:20PM (#15806169)
    Cliff [mailto] writes The sad state of affairs is that Big Brother probably became a quiet part of our lives a lot earlier. The big question now is: how much worse can it get?

    That is completely the wrong question. The question is NOT how much worst can it get, the question is when are we going to doing something about it! When are we going to stop accepting and starting refusing?

    Asked for identification when buying peaches?!?!? Fucking blow me, Bitch! Raise a fucking stink, in a very loud voice tell the clerk you won't provide ID so you can buy peaches. Make the clerk get the supervisor/manager and explain what an asinine policy they have. Show up every day with a shopping cart full of stuff plus eight peaches, then when asked for ID say no and just walk out.

    Fucking Christ on a crutch! Get a god-damn backbone, America!
  • by Slur (61510) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:53PM (#15806314) Homepage Journal
    Freck: "I got a lot of problems no one else has."

    Barris: "More than you think, and more every day. This is a world becoming progressively worse, can we not agree on that?

    "What's on the dessert menu?"

    [[ Welcome to Rome 2K. Welcome to the Brave New World. Welcome to the Animal Farm. Welcome to 1984. Blind, unrestrained capitalization naturally tends to squeeze every drop of humanity out of its core machinery to achieve its primary profit objective. Humans who seek to co-exist peacefully, cognizant of their environment, in order to achieve their ethical social aims in the course of their personal and professional lives, are free to expend energy and affect material gains and losses with impunity.

    Defense spending makes no one wealthy except reptilian industrialists whose profits from war and disaster are used to effectively prop up a puppet government: Now they can effectively appoint the rulers, compose the rules, shape the debate with poison pills and straw men, and to write the official history. They have placed themselves in control of Government, and in getting away with so many overtly illegal actions have at last proved that their formula works.

    And once in control, what's their vision for Humanity? Well, they haven't got one. Every ounce of energy goes into developing strategies, getting money, currying favor, and making deals in order to remain in power, ad nauseum. They have no plan for the general improvement of the body politic. These are cattlement and ranchers, intermingling with reptilian wealth.

    Whereas a Human despot might take over the country and start instituting a mandatory educational program -- as Saddam Hussein was wont to do -- American despots would prefer a generation of mindless sycophants, kneeling to salute the American God Machine, drugged, diabetic, deceived, and dimly fleeing (in blessed petrol-powered vehicles) to state-mandated churches and recruiting stations.

    Our lives go on, largely unmonitored as long as we comply. Every year over 45 thousand Americans die in automobile accidents. We die in vast numbers, ground up by a capitalist machine that doesn't even pay into the system that maintains the roads. And yet, instead of rationally fearing the drive home, they would have us fearing terrorists, dirty bombs, and Saddam Hussein.

    If we want to end the cycle of power, surveillance, despotism, totalitarianism, the way is clear. Remove the influence of the corporate wing. Just as the constitution bans the marriage of Church and State due to its irrational tendencies, it must ban the marriage of Corporate and State to insulate government from usurpation by a machine of rampant, heartless exploitation. In other words, to insulate we the people, the body politic, from Fascism.

    Do we already have Fascism in America? I think it is clear that we do. Right now in the United States hate-mongers who demonize intellectuals, spread lies and propaganda daily, parrot one another ceaselessly, and bury all meaningful discourse have become well-known -- even popular -- media figures. This Executive branch has been unprecedented in giving an air of validity to these figures, appearing on their programs (where they won't be challenged or questioned) while pretending that they are in a rational, impartial, and objective forum.

    Meanwhile, everybody knows what's going on. We know the game they're playing. We know everything they say is on a propaganda track, and not a track of rational inquiry. We know they are going around the world, sending the people's military to foreign lands to act as human targets, to guard the bases and pipelines they're building for themselves. Everybody in the solar system knows George Bush has no real opinions, interests, or power, that he's just a good lackey who can do what he's told, that the real policy-makers are unknown and unaccountable.

    Substance D. Deception.

    When we finally care enough to do something about getting screwed-over by the powerful, what will we -- you and I, Joe Citizen -- be al

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