Thursday, June 13, 2013

This Blog is Not Dead Yet!

Where does the time go? I can't believe it's been five months since I - or more properly, Baxter - last posted. I miss reading everyone's blogs, but for some reason keep getting sucked into Facebook and end up in long conversations over there. One of the things I always liked about blogging was the conversations we have in the comments section, which Facebook seems to so easily supplant. However, I miss the effort it takes to actually think about a subject and write coherently about it, and even more so, read the excellent posts on other blogs. I must come over to the Blog World more frequently again.

So, for those who only know me from here, I apologize for being out of touch for so long.

I never did write a post on gun control as planned - as you can figure out, I am in favor of it - but did have some great discussions over on Facebook about it - so much so that one of my former FB friends unfriended me. She is a libertarian I had known from having worked together years ago, who had such strong feelings about the Second Amendment that she couldn't even bring herself to deal with me anymore.

We used to have what I thought were civil discussions about the issues we disagree on (which is most of them with the exception of some social issues), but apparently she just couldn't address the issue further and unfriended me! I was sorry, as I do value being able to discuss issues with people who don't agree with me so as to understand their perspective and also to know what the opposition is up to!

Now I have discovered a Facebook friend who friended me at some point is apparently an Islamist extremist, which I had no idea about until a post he made yesterday. I am thinking I should unfriend him before I find myself getting a visit from the FBI or CIA or something after they monitor my Facebook friends list!

Speaking of which, what are your thoughts about the U.S. surveillance program that Edward Snowden recently revealed to the world?

Personally, I was not shocked. It's not as if we didn't know the Patriot Act had plenty of questionable things in it that gave the government broad powers when it came to tracking terrorism.

But this does seem like a slippery slope, and I am disappointed that President Obama has supported these practices as well as other policies initiated under President Bush.

That said, I am very suspicious about this Snowden guy and how he happened to have access to the information he subsequently revealed.  Here's a high-school dropout who suddenly got a $122,000 a year job at a major government contractor, and immediately apparently had secret clearance (which usually takes a lot of time to get) - and then leaves after only 3 months to spill the beans to the world about what the government is doing to monitor American citizens' communications. Who is this guy? Who placed him where he had access to all this sensitive information, and why? I am not convinced he acted alone.

Now he's saying that we've been hacking into China's computer systems and the U.S. is afraid he may defect to China along with all the secrets he has compiled. While I understand some may applaud the revelation of the U.S. government surveillance program, this man has ultimately endangered the security of the United States and to me is more of a traitor than a hero. I'll be interested to hear others' thoughts about this.

In the next post, Baxter will tell you about his Great Escape on our recent trip to Cape Cod. More to come.


the yellow fringe said...

I'm not ready to raise Snowden to saint yet, I suspect he will not be the next Daniel Ellsberg. Lets hold off a couple months to decide if he is a god or a goat.

Tom Harper said...

I don't know why, but I'm just not that alarmed about the newest spying scandal. At some point I began accepting the fact that every conversation and every computer keystroke is probably being monitored by somebody somewhere.

I hope this doesn't make me a Good German, but the privacy issue just isn't one of my top priorities.

Mauigirl said...

Agree, time will tell whether he did a good thing or a bad thing - and whether someone else put him up to it.

Tom, I am kind of in the same boat. When I first started blogging, in fact, I was very self-conscious about putting myself "out there" and paranoid about people who knew me personally knowing who I was in real life and what my beliefs and politics were. But once Facebook came along, all of that privacy stuff went out the window and now I say whatever I want, knowing full well that anyone could be reading it. It's a shift in mindset, and yet in some ways it is good - but one way or the other, I would never expect privacy anymore now that the internet is everywhere and our phones know where we are.

susan said...

I'm glad to see you've come back to visit the ancient land of Blogtopia. Things haven't been the same without you but I know many have left for the same reasons as you and that's fine. If I FB'd I'd never get a picture drawn or a book read.

In the matter of Edward Snowden, I can understand why you might not find him likeable as a person but the main point that he's making, that has not been denied, is that governments are taking comprehensive data about everybody which they can use against them if they want to.

"Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the  President..."

When countering such allegations the first objective of the security services would be to undermine the credibility of the person making the claims to cast doubt and to give the sense that the story is exaggerated. I know various media outlets have been finding things to question about his personality and behavior but overall I tend to believe in his honesty and think he should be commended.

Remember, it was Ben Franklin who said "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both"

Kulkuri said...

The NSA snooping is nothing new, just using the latest technology. Snooping on people's lives by government and corporations has been going on since someone figured out having information on others was to their advantage.

While it is sad that Obama is continuing aWol's policies, nothing will change as long as people keep electing the same kind of idiot to Congress.

Sherry Peyton said...

I knew you would be back so always left you in my reader. I'm not much excited by the NSA thing, since as I understand they actually know nothing about anybody. Meta data is much less than what google and FB do already to mine you for what you click on. Face it, we live in a world that is no longer private. That's what I believe anyway. I know about the unfriending stuff. I've been unfriended by about 3 people so far, all fundamentalists who I do admittedly rail against as a great scourge upon the planet. lol...I'm not sure I would bother unfriending the radical Islamic. But if he says anything really bad, I'd bring it to the attention of the authorities surely.

KGMom said...

I understand how blogging has slipped a bit lower in priorities--it has done so for me. Hey, I too have a gun control blog circling around in my head--something to the effect of "Since when did the 2nd amendment upstage ALL other aspects of the Constitution and Bill of Rights?" but then John Oliver used that on the Jon Stewart show, so pffftt--there it went.
As for Snowden--I never trust anyone with visions of personal grandeur.
And, oh, we're spying on other governments? Really? When did that start?

Fran said...

Yes it does seem like blog land has faded... people on my blogroll fade from posting into weeks & months. How many social media outlets does one really need? I resisted FB for a very long time... but decided if I could keep in touch w my kids that way, I would subject myself to it. But now it seems to be a cool outlet-- not having to go to each individual site, but rather have the newsfeed to see new posts as they happen, plus you can choose which things go public... thus eliminating trolls.
Maybe I'll send you a friend request! I was stunned to see Christopher of "From the Left" not post in 2 months-- he was a daily blogger, w a very active site. What happened?
Anyway.... WE can change w social media too.. only wish FB had 21st century layout options, like various fonts, italic, bold.... nothing too fancy... the design & layout seems very bare bones-- but the price is right!
Take care-- Fran

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