Tag Archives: fiction influences reality

Star Trek and the NSA and paywalls

picard finger

I think it is totally messed up that the NSA spy dude General Keith Alexander built a replica Start Trek: Enterprise bridge.  HEY REAL WORLD SURVEILLANCE WARMONGERS: leave my fiction alone.  Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing explains using a quote from a Foreign Affairs article:*

When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a “whoosh” sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather “captain’s chair” in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

via Replica Enterprise bridge used to sell surveillance to Congress – Boing Boing.

*I couldn’t read the actual article because Foreign Affairs paywall was so dominating.  I guess I’ll have to read it via the school library server.  You know, paywall-mass-media-publication people: most of the nerdy people would read FOREIGN AFFAIRS probably can get a copy through their library.

It is convenient that I can follow the link from the Boing Boing article to the essay in question.  But if I open another tab, log into my school account, finding the article is a matter of a few more links.  So be honest, paywall-media-people, what you are selling is convenience.

Charge me convenience prices.  I just want to read one story.  Let me  drop ten cents (or a quarter!) of hard-earned digital cash for a nice story.  I don’t want to sign up, I want to pay for something the way you used to be able to buy a newspaper and not have to give your vital information.  Please mass media sources, get with the 2000s and make portions of your insightful work available to the public at reasonable prices.

And kick some of that digital cash to support investigative journalism.

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Filed under human rights, media, propaganda, representation, Surveillance

Bike Snob fakes out the Paris Review

I like the blog the Bike Snob.  I ride a bicycle a couple times a week and I’m a snob, so it fits.  The Bike Snob is heavy on witty trash talking.  One of his favorite techniques is to make something ridiculous up, for instance imagining the septuagenarian founder of the Paris Review, George Plimpton riding around on an ugly Trek Y-frame.

Anyway, when my friend (I do actually have a friend) forwarded me the Paris Review post, my first thought was, “So by some extraordinary coincidence did George Plimpton actually ride a Y-Foil?” Then I wondered, “Maybe I didn’t make up the quote after all and I just think I did because it seems like something I’d come up with.” Finally though, it became clear that somehow the current editor of The Paris Review must have come across my bullshit quote and accepted it as fact. Furthermore, now that it’s actually been published on their website, everyone else will accept it as fact as well, and thanks to a certain popular search engine poor George Plimpton will be forever associated with one of the ugliest and Fredliest bicycles ever made.

It really makes you think about the complex relationship between reality and absurdity. Take religion for example. Sometime back in the Iron Age some wiseass probably made a joke about milk and meat, and now thousands of years later Jews need to have two dishwashers.

via Bike Snob NYC: Foiled Again: Truth is Faker than Fiction.

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Filed under bicycle, communication, learning, media, representation