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

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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  • 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.
  • Re:Big "OH Brother" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:04AM (#15803910)
    I think the point is, his examples are definitely exaggerated. Anybody work at Kroger's care to comment?
  • Re:Big "OH Brother" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:16AM (#15803956)
    maybe the peaches issue was just a data entry glitch, but the rest of the items are true. I myself am very angry at the absurdity of age/license checks for purchasing cough medicine. As if the big drug dealers will be buying 6 oz bottles of cough syrup to make the hundreds of gallons of narcotic. "But a few high school students made small amounts of drugs with this!", cry the Nanny-State bleeding hearts! "Look at me, I care about the children, so I voted for this law", says the power-grubbing dirt bag politician. For that matter, I was recently at the grocery store behind a 50 year old man who was refused the sale of a bottle of gin because he forgot his ID. This society is going to get a big punch in the reset button real soon, as the rewards of this increasing collective stupidity are reaped. For the simple truth is, the government has neither the competence nor resources to protect everyone from themselves, from each other, and from the realities of life.
  • 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.
  • by MyDixieWrecked ( 548719 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:18AM (#15803968) Homepage Journal
    I smell BS. An ID for a lighter? Bah.

    Where do you live? perhaps I'd like to move there.

    When I used to buy cigarettes in NJ, they'd card me and jot down my license. When I purchase alcohol, some stores jot down my license number on paper or punch it into their cashier devices. I bought a set of markers a couple weeks back and they did the same thing to me. They asked for ID and wrote it down.

    Shit's going down, but I think it's regional. It's stupid.
  • 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 [], one of the most deadly poisons known to man, is castor beans.
  • 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.
  • Re:Listen closely (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:28AM (#15804008)
    That's just it.

    The fact that we know about these things make the information sometimes less obscure. Anyone in America can go to a local library and read about dirty actions the US has taken in South America, Asia, and every other corner of the world. Because there is so much of this information-- Halliburton, WMDs, 9/11, Afghanistan, Peru, Eastern European prisons, we get overwhelmed. Eventually, having the information in the open makes it so difficult to parse information that we just give up.

    That's basically what happened now.
  • 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.
  • It's closer than you think; many public transit systems already have the capability.

    The only thing stopping them from doing it right now is allowing people to purchase with cash. Cash is a problem, because it's harder to trace cash than it is to trace credit cards.

    I'll use for example the metro system near where I live, in Washington DC. It's an admittedly sophisticated system compared to a lot of other places, but it's nothing that futuristic. You can pay to use the metro (including buses) in one of two ways: you use either a credit card or cash, and you put the amount onto either a semi-reusable cardboard mag-stripe card, or a reusable RFID card. The RFID cards aren't (I don't think) stored value; they just chirp a serial number. So if you use one of those, it's fairly trivial to track you throughout the system, particularly if you load it with a credit card. Find the transaction where you added money to it, get the serial number of the card you put money on, and then follow that serial number around as you use it.

    With cash the problem becomes one of identification. You can still track someone around the system using their stored-value mag-stripe card, but identifying someone as they come into the system if they pay with cash is still a significant problem. The way to get around this would be either by requiring everyone to use some non-anonymous form of payment to get in (which might mean scanning a government photo ID when paying with cash) or automated face recognition. Since most public transport is filled with cameras as is, the latter might be the way to go.

    Of course none of this keeps you from buying a ticket (RFID or regular) and handing it to another person, so it wouldn't be foolproof, but I would be surprised if the police haven't used the electronic ticketing systems to figure out where suspects under pursuit enter and leave already. It's such an obvious use of the technology I can't imagine that they haven't, especially given the very high-crime areas that public-transport systems tend to run through.

    Personally, I feel that it won't be very long in the future when using cash is the mark of someone suspicious. (It already is, in large quantities and in certain places -- bought an airline ticket with cash lately?) That is, anyone using cash to purchase anything from food to movie tickets will be forced through additional scrutiny, not to mention odd looks from "honest" people (using their Visa cards as God intended).
  • 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 [] instead.
  • Re:Go Fig (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:44AM (#15804064) Journal
    My view is this. If we had a perfect government with perfectly just and compassionate laws, then I would submit to total observation by the government. But we don't have a perfect government or a perfect world. Therefore, I do not want total observation.
  • by BitwizeGHC ( 145393 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:06AM (#15804147) Homepage
    "FYI, man, you can do like absolutely nothing... and your name goes through like, 17 computers a day, man. 1984? Yeah, RIGHT, man, that's a typo. Orwell's here now and he's livin' large. We have no names man, no names! We are NAMELESS.... Can I score a fry?"
  • 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 [], 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 [], however, implies that the production method described in the patent results in a impure mixture of various denatured proteins.
  • 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.

  • by friedmud ( 512466 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:51AM (#15804292)
    Firstly, I'm not saying that everyone needs to be rich... or should even want to be. We all have different goals in life, some people would love to work a part-time minimum wage job as that would afford them lots of free time to devote to their hobbies and friends.

    Others would like to purchase things to make our lives more comfortable/easier. A place to live (with air conditioning! Man it's hot this summer!), a T.V. to be entertained by, good food to make our tongues happy... and so on. These people work harder (or should) at gaining more capital for the purposes of buying the things we cannot make ourselves. That doesn't mean we're greedy, it just means we want some things that we don't have, so we do something for someone else (work!) and in return we recieve the ability to get what we want.

    That process doesn't "push other people into poverty"... it just gives me the ability to get what I want... everyone else has the same opportunity (or they already have a headstart because someone in their past worked... and decided to pass that capital on... which is their perogative and shouldn't be held against the current recipients).

    The problem comes when some people don't want to do the work to give themselves what they want. They work the same minimum wage job as the happy hobbiest above... but blame "the system" for screwing them... when in reality it was their own decisions that led them to this point. They yell and scream that they don't have enough money for [insert whatever good/service you like] and that they are "entitled" to that good/service and the government needs to provide it for them... which in our current culture happens fairly often.

    But where does all the money come from to provide these people who don't work with things they don't deserve? Oh, that's right, from us people who actually made responsible decisions with their lives and are doing well at providing both the things we want and the things [we/our families] need. Now how is that right?

  • by jonniesmokes ( 323978 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:52AM (#15804295)
    Ahahh. You're right that studying hard/working hard should produce a nice compensation. FYI, janitors work very hard, as do flight attendants, cooks, checkout clerks, delivery folks, and machinists; just about any profession as a matter of fact. What you're describing is the market place of labor. Its always been the case that those in highest demand get paid more. That's why CEO's get $50mega bucks per year. Its not because they work any harder or have studied any harder than the construction worker (ye olde Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard in the first year). But is it fair? Of course not. Life isn't fair. Communism was a pathetic attempt at making life more fair. The minumum wage is a reasonable attempt at making life more fair.

    I resent your implication that janitors have kids on welfare. Get that silver spoon and troll out of your lower class hating mouth.

    Here is a reason to support making life more fair: If you don't, then poor people who have been taken advantage of will eventually stop listening to southern accent affecting Presidents and their church preachers and will burn your rich ass into a pile of ash in that brand new exurb of yours. Its happened in many many places when the wealth balance gets too whacked. That's why rich folks should support the minimum wage. Its also why they should pay more in taxes, because they benefit the most from a structured society. Its called nobility, and only snobs don't have it.

    On the other hand if your going for the revolution - then by all means, get rid of all work place protections and put those 7 year old WICK program/AFDC kids to work in a debtor's prison. I'm just one of those terrible libral's who's studied history and would like our society to go on another 200 years.
  • by aersixb9 ( 267695 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:56AM (#15804312)
    People are only willing to let it happen because the media has been censored. Remember that there are very strict laws on what can and cannot be printed, said, distributed via the internet, or shown on television or in the movies. In particular, there are laws on liebel and slander that prohibit the saying or writing of untrue things. Since the truth is not always obvious, it is the liars that have pushed these laws and made the telling and writing of true things illegal.

    If no person can say, write, televise, or otherwise distribute any information that is contrary to the information that the government distributes, then everybody will agree with the sole source of information. There is no information to the contrary, at least that is distributed to the masses. It is very easy to win a one sided arguement, especially when the source of all information is under strict, and violent control.

    All of these spying tools, although probably in existance, are unnecessary. Each person in society must follow a very strict standard. That standard is waking up before the alarm, soloing, morning routine, school & work, lunch, more school & work, then store shopping and the evening routine, including a group meal and daily discussion (this is the only meal where meat is consumed, milk is consumed in the morning, and possibly at lunch), then the evening television watching begins, adults may have beer at this time, then the evening soloing, sleep, and again at 3am. This pattern repeats, until the weekend patter, upon which people are required to follow an equally rigid routine that varies due to bilologial differences in humans.

    Deviation from this routine is trivial to detect, and since humans must have contact with other humans the social networks can easily detect a person becoming different or weird. These people are tortured and eliminated from society in a secretive and efficient way. You probably know people that have disappeared. Small deviations are met with physical pain, usually in the form of piercing and cutting.

    When you ask a person if they agree that things should be the way they are now, they know they must agree. Since they have never seen any information outside of what is allowed, and since they have also seen what happens to deviants and people that are not satisfied with the way society is, they say that they are happy with the way things are. To do otherwise is to die. Luckily, we appear to be on the verge of changing the way things are, perhaps, replacing the old routine with a new routine that will cause people to meet all of their needs and wants, and to have extra posessions and true freedom, the ability to do what they want when they want to.
  • Re:Just walk away (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:01AM (#15804329)
    Sometimes if you need the thing you're buying badly enough, you just have to put up with the shit. I remember one time I was in a small, poor country -- I don't want to offend anyone by naming names, it isn't really important anyway -- and wanted to buy an AA battery for my alarm clock. I was out in the suburbs and the only shop I could find selling batteries was an electronics shop specialising in larger items, like stereos et al. So to buy my AA battery I had to fill in two forms, give address and phone number, etc etc ... but I needed it so that my alarm would go off next morning so I would wake up and catch my plane. I've no idea how places like that stay in business though.
  • 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 Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:03AM (#15804341) Homepage Journal
    The only thing stopping them from doing it right now is allowing people to purchase with cash. Cash is a problem, because it's harder to trace cash than it is to trace credit cards.,39020645,213507 4,00.htm [] and,1848,59565,00. html [] come to mind, everytime I pull a fresh crisp note from the money machine. In Amsterdam (Netherlands) public transport is switching to a mag-stripe card system. Things are getting worse and worse, every failure of law inforcement results in stricter regulation for the rest of society. Internet, phone, transport: nothing is excluded from spying and prying eyes.

    Ira Levin wrote a nice story, This Perfect Day, describing a society in which every action is attached to a person, []. I said nice, not brilliant, but entertaining.

  • Re:What privacy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mverwijs ( 815917 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:43AM (#15804478) Homepage

    Privacy hasn't gone anywhere. If anything the world today has given us MORE privacy than ever before.

    You should read this: GP.html []

    A quote:

    But when the United States Constitution was framed, the Founding Fathers saw no need to explicitly spell out the right to a private conversation. That would have been silly. Two hundred years ago, all conversations were private. If someone else was within earshot, you could just go out behind the barn and have your conversation there. No one could listen in without your knowledge. The right to a private conversation was a natural right, not just in a philosophical sense, but in a law-of-physics sense, given the technology of the time.

    -- mverwijs
  • 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?"

  • by viking2000 ( 954894 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:01AM (#15804538)
    First, the government is going to process the data to get a good profile of you.

    Secondly they are going to use it extensively in all interaction with you.

    Norway does this today and a lot more. They have a benevolent(?) government, and people live and eat well, so nobody complains much.

    Here are some examples of Noway today:
    1. The tax office does your full tax return for you since they have all your info anyway. You are sent a copy to confirm that all is correct, and it usually is.
    2. Everyone has a personal number assigned at birth. The registry is part of the tax office. To get many benefits like free healthcare, and by law, you must report your address.
    3. All public services have full access to your information. This simplifies qualifying for various programs as there is nothing to fill out.
    4. Many services are only payable electronically, so a searchable database is easy to build.
    5. Tollstations are fully automatic and prolific. Your movements are logged. If you drive through without an electronic tag, a camera snaps, and you are mailed a request for electronic payment. How do the find you?
    6. Electronic photoboxes are installed throuout the country to catch speeders.
    7. Government controlled free(subsidized) -health care, -education, -childcare makes sure they know everything, as your they are closely involved in all of your familys life.
    8. Most norwegians are forced members of a union. The unions political arm, the labour party controls the government as well. The unions often offer benefits such as vacation homes. The government owns the majority of shares in the largest companies. (So i guess the union are on both sides of the table in negotiations) The government also have majority control of other big businesses such as banks.

    So your job, your vacation, your representative at the salary negotiation table, your bank, your university, your retirement saving, your doctor, the daycare etc are fully controlled by the government.

  • Re:Go Fig (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot@cPERIOD ... minus punct> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:14AM (#15804576) Homepage Journal
    This is interesting, since you seem to feel quite superior to the rest of us that think it's a very relevant piece of work.

    It was an anti-communist rag written with characters shallow and plot weak even by science fiction standards. If you think I'm being superior just because I think that book is no better than its contemporary critics held it to be, well, then you may want to rethink your position.

    Surveillance and control are intimately linked.

    They are, but not in the way that you think.

    The manager of an amusement park must survey his park in order to control it. The Red Cross at an American Prison can survey all they want, but they don't have any control at all over the prison that the warden doesn't give them.

    1984 would work if you removed the double-screen and just used technology that was contemporary to Orwell's day. In fact, it did work for the Soviet Union, Communist China, and Cuba. But if you turned Big Brother into a democratically-appointed survellience system that could only watch and didn't have the Thought Police, well, then Orwell's story becomes about as spooky as Minority Report. Less, even.

    If at any moment it is possible that you are being observed by someone - anyone - aren't you less inclPined to exercise your freedoms?

    Nope. I presume that someone, either man or God, is observing me every minute of every day. I exercise my freedoms as I see fit, with the full expectation that someone will observe and, eventually, I will be called to account for my actions. (This is one of the surprisngly modern parts of Christianity, btw -- "and what you whisper in shadows will be shouted from rooftops" and all that.)

    If you are less inclined to exercise your freedoms when you are being observed, well, then you probably are confusing "excerise your freedoms" with "break the rules of good behavior". Please go back to kindergarten, I think you missed a few lessons on how to operate in civilzied society.

    (There, now I'm being superior.)
  • by toccoa ( 206164 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:48AM (#15804680)
    The news reports said there is a device in the house that tells people when to get up, when to go to bed and praises the leader. And they will cut power to an apartment complex so police can see what video tapes are trapped in the VCR. I think that is a lot closer to 1994 than these annoyances.
  • by Steeltoe ( 98226 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:58AM (#15804710) Homepage
    Visit the link in my .sig. By learning the Art of Living, you can bring more awareness into your own life and into our own world. Ok, we probably got too much awareness now you might say, right? There doesn't go a day we don't hear about something awful about this world.

    Right awareness is focusing on what is good, positive. Around you and otherwise in the world. Media is filled with negative awareness, which we should fight actively to turn both in our daily lives and globally. Of coure, for this to happen also, we need something positive _action_ to happen :-)

    First you have to strengthen the individual, so this can go as a positive force out in the world. Every human has capacity to love and nurture eachother, but our stress is a layer in our body and consciousness.. Deprive a man of sleep for 3 days, and even the most harmonious and joyful being will become the worst... So we need to find ways to relieve stress and come back to ourselves again.

    With breathing excercises, precious knowledge about life and much more, the Art of Living course is just fantastic in my experiences. It is unique in that this volunteer organisation is handling the very issues that we're facing in the world today: erosion of human values, how to rebuild faith in humanity and bring every religion and faction together instead of destroying this beautiful world. We're all in the same boat, let's start acting like it.

    First rate. Just do it while you can!

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of Art of Living Foundation and International Association for Human Values, has been nominated for the peace price many times. However, just like with Mahatma Gandhi, there seems to be a strong resistance to letting Indians getting the peace price.

    Karma is excellent. If you really care about the world, maybe it's time to shift a bit of perspective?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:43AM (#15804799)
    the only flaw with your biased post is the fact many democrats are guilty of the exact same bullshit that republicans are.

    Want a good example? Look at california. Look at what Grey Davis did, look at Boxer and Feinstein. What have they done recently?

    oh right, everything that screws the people of the state around.

    Look at everything Feinstein votes for, everything that ensures that people suffer, she backs the Big corporate interests as well.

    What doesnt she vote for? everything that helps people and ensures the voters get to keep their rights.

    She also led a campaign when Davis was being recalled chastising the people and telling them what they were doing was illegal and wanted to have the right to recall banned. Some of you californian residents may remember some of the ads.

    Boxer is also on the same boat.

    And Davis? Hell, if you're familiar with california state politics, you dont even need an explanation here. To everyone else, he basically ripped off the state and kept outright lying about everything. He also used taxpayer money to fund his re-election.

    Also, guess who was pushing the draft to send in more troops into the big mistake in the middle east? Democrats. (so much for the valuing human rights thing, I see the draft as a violation of human rights, as it's basically a death sentence for many just so some rich assholes can play wargames in the 3rd world.)

    Democrats are no better than republicans, as they both have one interest in mind:


    Best thing to do is start voting on people based on who they are, what they stand for. Not what political party they're in. As far as I'm concerned, Republicans and Democrats are the same party, but just sell on different face values.

    People like you disgust me to the core. You're one of the people who are why we are discussing this.

    Also, if you were being a troll, I applaud you for a job well done. But I still want to make it clear to those who do think that voting for a party, not a candidate makes a difference.
  • by Max_W ( 812974 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:51AM (#15804819)
    I live in Ukraine. I've been in the USA. An I can confirm that you are right. Probably our societies learned from one another.

    In Ukraine the government got the "bloody noze" in 90s from people for poking it into private lives of population.

    Now we have got another exteme - the government is afraid to control any aspects of the society life, so we slide into some sort of anarchy. And I can tell that there is some truth in the saying that "anarchy is the mother of order".

    But recently the government powers begin to rise again. The problem is that bueraucrats look out for number one, and by doing it make problems for everybody else.

  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @06:15AM (#15804987)
    In a 'free market' scenario, patents will still exist in that the Monopoly will have the power to enforce its own 'patents' without the help of the government. Agreed?
    If one goes beyond the strict "free market" definition to include a government conformant with libertarian ideals -- trade secrets, yes; patents, no.

    In that case, the middle-ground would be some antitrust regulations, with some very light patent/IP protections (to ensure the adequate return on R&D investment)?
    The historical record with regard to whether patents promote or retard innovation is inconclusive. See [] -- which finds that rather than increasing the total amount of innovation, a patent system's primary beneficial effect is encouraging a wider variety of fields to be studied. There is evidence elsewhere that in several specific fields patents tend to retard innovation -- textiles is one of these, historically; I suspect strongly (but with a lack of experimental data) that software is another.

    Anyhow, I'm not personally in favor of a libertarian paradise -- but I do think patents should be available only in those situations and fields where their presence promotes, rather than harms, the public welfare; and I think that the case in favor of patent protection in general, while persuasive, is frequently overstated.
  • 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 onID=809&ArticleID=1652470 []

    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.
  • Re:Peaches? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @06:33AM (#15805030) Journal
    The extract from two beans off Ricinus communis is enough to kill an adult. However, it's often grown as a garden plant. Make sure your children know not to go chewing on this one!
  • by 15Bit ( 940730 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @06:43AM (#15805045)
    These ideas are not communist. They're as democratic and American as mom and the flag and apple pie.

    They may well be part of the democratic ideal, but they seem to conflict to some extent with the capitalist implementation. A completely free market economy seems to lead to a polar distribution of wealth. A completely communist economy (at least in the way it tends to be implemented) leads to the same. The problem seems to lies in our inherent need to be better than our neighbour. This is clearly a good thing in that it drives us forward to better and greater things, but if left unchecked you get the disparity which so clearly affects the US and, increasingly, other western countries. Society can only move forward as a whole, not in parts determined by wealth, and to achieve that some balance is required in which ambition and success are encouraged, but still capped.

    You are quite right in saying that the key to this balance is the variance in wealth distribution, and it is interesting that the countries with the lower disparity between rich and poor generally seem to have better health, longer lifespans and a higher standard of living. These are often (but not always) the more democratic socialist states, particularly the scandinavian countries [] ( These also rank high in terms of happiness, due to sensible work-life balance and employment regulations that don't force you to work every hour of the day. Not to say these countries have it right, but i only have one life and i'd rather enjoy it, see my family and live to a decent age. Even if it means i have a lower chance to strike it rich.

  • by Eye-of-Modok ( 991809 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @07:25AM (#15805124) Homepage Journal
    Of all places in the world, I feel happy as a clam in "Red" China, except for constant hassles circumventing the "Great Firewall of China." People here are amazed at my views against blind following of the agendas set forth by the oligarchies that control the world's largest governments, which in turn have nearly successfully consolidated all the little governments to create the first de fact world government - never mind it's done in the guise of trade agreements, debt "forgiveness", etc. In China, big government is all they know. All the "thinkers" here are eagerly embracing everything WTO, and I sometimes have to wonder... Has the US finally found another country to balance the power? Well, not for a good long while, that's for sure. With the EU in one corner, Africa in another, a dubious burgeoning alliance with India in the making, China has the potential to make a huge splash on the world scene, as long as they are willing to let the world walk all over them for a goodly while first. (Get cher slave labor here! Get it while its hot!) Twenty or thirty years from now, those who underestimated the sheer volume of Chinese influence will be wondering what happened. In the mean time, I live in a land where I can do pretty much anything I want without my neighbors looking over my shoulder or casting stones at me, eating great food for next to nothing. I do miss the beautiful clean streets of American suburbia sometimes though...
  • by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @08:32AM (#15805256) Journal
    It ain't that bad YET!?! When you have doublethink in real life, you're pretty much there. Think I'm overstating? Kerry had a spotless military record, Bush's was...amazingly appaling, to say the least. And still, Bush managed to run part of his campaign on a 'Kerry is a military pussy' platform. And many other political races are won that way...somehow making Rove's opponents strenghts work against them.

    As for the surveilance...well, that's pretty much an established fact. There's this whole 'war is peace''ve got an attorney general doing his damndest to legalise torture...deep administration ties to the military-industrial complex (you know, that thing many people including ex-presidents have been warning against) and established energy concerns (which is the only one which didn't make 1984, iirc).

    Then there's laws which favour drug companies, allowing them to not be sued through riders included in the USA PATRIOT ACT or the freaking national budget. And lets not forget the 8 billion dollar entertainment industry somehow getting the government to regulate a I-don't-know-how-many-hundreds-of-billions dollar electronics industry.

    Face it...Wells was right, only his definition of government didn't include the current state of fascism (merging of corporations and state) the USA finds itself in nowadays.
  • by emagery ( 914122 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @08:41AM (#15805276)
    I probably am a little paranoid about all this, but I try to counter that with reason. What I feel is important to say here is that, most of this really is rather inert when you remove the human element... the concept of Big Brother CAN be both a positive and a negative force, depending at how it is run and by whom. RFID chips have the power to help commerce, post-criminal enforcement, finding your keys ... beautiful things... and it has the power to allow a government and/or agency to watch your every move. Nanomachines can clean your artiries, kill cancer when it is just a cell big, and allow you to perceive the internet with all five of your senses, without implants, etc... and they can also be used to invade and spy on you, cause severe harm, kill... and (most unlikely of all) go grey-goo as people like to be idioticly paranoid about. There was a time when people were worried about how reading would dull the brain, that radio would destroy society, and that rock and roll was the work of the devil. But all have been positive forces in our history. Some kid's life was recently saved because of a alligator-deterring technique he saw on the discovery channel! And for all this talk of lack of freedom, here we all are, using the internet, to talk about it! The point I'm trying to make is... surveillances, RFID, call tapping, new technologies, government itself (big or small) are all completely neutral when unused... what we really don't know is... who is at he helm? Can we trust them? How realistic is it that they want to go so completely totalitarian on us? Until they take away our right to bear arms, I still have to withhold my inner paranoia. I've heard from at least 3 different sources (most of which are via fark or /. of course, but SEEM unrelated) about secret internment camps being built in the country... That's scary, but all I have is someone elses word for it. All I know is that, almost routinely, I go to bed each night having read some frightening new news... global warming, fascist america, complete lack of accountability with repub-voted biotech firms, all the lies bush has been caught in, the fact that MY country has turned into the bad guy... we're supposed to be the good guys, dammit. Where's all our military spending going, exactly, when we can't even send our guys into harms way (bs'd as that whole situatio is) without humvee armor, huh? Von Braun once said, near the end of his life, that there there would be four great lies told to the public to secure vast quantities of money for military production and research... first would be russians (the impending issue in his time), next would be a 'faceless' and borderless threat (can anyone say 'terrorism'? (frankly, the real terrorism is done in the name of fighting terrorism, as far as I am concerned))... so we've got two prophecies left to fulfill... asteroids (legitimate as the concept is) and then aliens. All I want is to lead a complete life, relatively free of fear, write some books, make some games, live in a relatively natural setting, etc... there's really no excuse for many of the great ills in the world today, but are some of these fears imagined, or are they real? Is it in the least bit possible that some of these 'edgy' services or technologies are being used more for their good rather than their evil (nuclear power is mostly a success after all, and we haven't destroyed civilization YET!). I dunno... I want to know... and that our government is no longer transparent, that our own 'leader's (for lack of a better word) have no credibility left... it doesn't help.
  • 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 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.

  • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:13AM (#15805356) Journal
    10% of the population controls 90% of the wealth.

    When you think of it that way, it should really come as no surprise.

  • Re:Big "OH Brother" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 29, 2006 @09:55AM (#15805505)
    We have (officially) had this open ended war on drugs for something like 25 years and drugs have been criminalized for much longer. And what do we have to show for it besides countless movies and TV shows glorifying the fight against drugs? Nothing. People still use drugs, people still die from drugs, drugs still come into the country, etc. etc. etc.

    Cigarettes are legal (mostly), but usage has been declining for a long much so that cigarette users are such a minority that non-smokers can dictate terms to the smokers (restaurant/bar/beach non-smoking laws in Florida and California, et al), but that's a different issue. And why is this? Education. Anti-smoking campaigns do not have nearly the resources that the government has been throwing at the drug "problem," yet they have been able to wage effective education campaigns. Showing a kid a picture of "smoker's lungs" has quite an effect. Knowing what chemicals are used to cut tobacco has quite an effect. Some people still choose to smoke, but there is still a net loss.

    So, instead of spending billions each year to fight the "drug problem," why not just make them all legal, subject them to the same FDA regulations as all other drugs, and let companies make clean versions that contain what users expect them to contain...because no one likes to be surprised by marijuana cut with PCP.

    Once you do that, the crime aspect is gone. Speaking as an engineer that deals with the FDA, the military is much easier for cartels do deal with than the FDA.

    Now start the drug education campaign. Show kids what meth will do to you. Show kids what PCP will do to you. Make kids watch Trainspotting. Make kids watch Requiem for a Dream. And then let them decide. Most will probably just stick with majiuana.
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:02AM (#15805532) Homepage Journal
    OK, keep in mind that 1984 was *fiction*. It was not a prediction, prophecy, fate or destiny. If the society we live in isn't a complete duplicate of 1984, that doesn't mean that we don't have less freedom, or that the government isn't spying on us without proper oversight, or even illegally. We could come into a police state that bears little resemblance of 1984.

    What you should be looking at is how actual, real dictators came to power and how real police states were formed. Yes, things are pretty good right now. No, that doesn't mean that it will stay that way, or continue to get better. Yes, we still need to work hard and remain vigilent to make sure that things continue to get better. America is not a magical place where all is good and must be that way. The same evil personality types that became dictators and created hell on earth in other countries exist here, and they are working mercilessly and without conscience to gain ever more power.
  • Re:Big "OH Brother" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:32AM (#15805650) Homepage

    Cigarettes were only an exampli gratia. When people get it through their heads that drugs don't make the pain go away, only getting off your ass and doing something makes the pain go away, (except in the case of medical painkillers, for the hard of comprehension) then we can talk about legalising drugs. Until then, people really do need to be protected from their own stupidity, or from the stupidity of their peers. Because trying anything once can be a terminal philosophy.

  • Re:Big "OH Brother" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Riverman2 ( 991512 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @11:48AM (#15806047)
    I disagree. I think you guys are getting way, way ahead of yourselves. In order for the police state to exist, there has to be a "New World Order". The United States is in competition for the best, brightest individuals. They come here for economic freedom and what not. If the trade-off was that you had to have a probe stuck up your butt when you crossed inter-state boundaries, I for one would move to Australia. I don't see the New World Order thing happening. Too expensive for the USA to conquer the world.

    I also think the Orwellian nightmare is fundamentally flawed. Imagine if someone invents a nuclear reactor type device that sits on your kitchen counter, like the food-maker on star trek, and you can jimmy-rig the thing to manufacture plutonium. Do you want to live in a world where people are given all the freedom they need to commit mass murder? Imagine if instead of cars, we ride around in aircraft at mach 0.95. Do you police DUI the same way, considering a drunk driver is capable of destroying 5 city blocks? Do you even allow people to drive without computer restrictions? Do you allow people to buy caustic chemicals in the grocery store? (it used to be commonplace) These sorts of questions are completely new and you can't apply the same reasoning to them based on your ideology. The governments whole purpose is to enforce order in society. If you want to build bombs you can: move out to the middle of nowhere, start digging until you find useful metals and stuff, build a chemical factory............. you can't have any help from society because society doesn't want to help you with that sort of thing.

    The world gets better and better. If you think the world was a better place when kings ruled and you could ride around on a horse chopping peoples heads off for sport, you are sorely mistaken. The smarter and more advanced we all get as a whole, the harder it is to implement oppressive institutions.

  • Re:Big "OH Brother" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... m ['eve' in gap]> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @12:05PM (#15806112) Homepage

    Well, let's see.

    Does the meth addict cost society more than ten dollars a day? Let's assume it costs a few thousand to bust a meth lab, that each mugging costs, in addition to whatever was stolen, at least five hundred dollars in police time, and that each burglary costs maybe two thousand.

    It's very hard to see how that could possibly average to less than ten dollars a day per addict.

    So, to rephrase in another way: The illegality of drugs is costing much much more than it would be if we just bought meth addicts all the drugs they wanted. At street prices, and I'm sure the manufacturing price is much lower.

    Damn yes I want to legalize drugs. There is no way to logically reduce the supply of meth to zero, and thus all 'stopping' it will do is reduce the supply and thus raise the price, thus resulting in more addicts who can't afford to pay for it. Um, duh. We've already see what happens with crack, let's keep meth affordable, shall we?

    And, incidentally, around here (the mountains of Georgia), teenagers and semi-random adults do make meth. Meth labs have replaced illegal stills. They just get their supplies from organized crime, or from other people who get it from organized crime, or at least mild-organized crime. You're right in that this idea of people buying large amounts of Sudafed and making it into meth is a bit silly...if people are buying large amount of Sudafed, they're just kids drinking it to get high. Meth is made from much 'purer' drugs that are usually either really stolen or 'stolen' with the help of doctors.

  • 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
  • by MKalus ( 72765 ) <[mkalus] [at] []> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @11:26PM (#15808918) Homepage
    Here's the difference. In 1984, Ingsoc had the resources and the devotees to go after every single Winston Smith. In real life, if your girlfriend buys 4 peaches and they take down her social security and mother's maiden name, what can the government do with that?

    They don't have to do anything with it (yet). They just need to collect this information for now.

    Right now the problem is that they have to operate within the constrains of the law, but they can change the law over time. Once they get it to a point where they have free reign in dealing with "terrorists" any way they see fit they don't need any due process, they print out a list and the man in black come by and that's the last time you've been seen.

    Can't happen in the US? How did the US get into the current Iraq War? Ah yes, Congress gave Bush Carte Blanche he could do anything he wanted with Iraq, even nuke it if he felt that this would have been the right thing even though the law does actually NOT allow for this (he has to put a vote up before congress before he can go to war, at least that's how it was in the past).

    The process is rather simple then:

    1. Collect Data on "trouble makers".
    2. Change law to permit you to deal with terrorists any way you see fit.
    3. Declare above mentioned trouble makers to terrorists.
    4. Profit.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson