Just look at corn and soybeans, subsidized with taxpayer money --creating a market that wouldn't otherwise make sense. Why? So agribusiness firms have cheap inputs to make processed food. the taxpayers are basically subsidizing corporations to make crap, when we could have grown real food on our own. But, of course, they've made growing food illegal now... How can people be free if they can't feed themselves without getting sued for patent violations? (Freedom TM pg 104)
I really recommend a listen to Daniel Suarez' talk at the Long Now Foundation, which I missed when it was first posted. Here's an eye-opening bit from the transcript:
Many of you have Bluetooth devices in your car but you may not know about the TPMS system; this is the tire pressure monitoring system. It was federally mandated by the 2001 TREAD Act. Thatís right. You all remember voting for this, right? It says that any car manufactured up to 2007 has to have wireless nozzle pressure measurement devices that communicate with the computer onboard the car to see that your tires are safely inflated. Now, they have to have a unique I.D. so that the computer knows your tires from the car next to you and of course, it is an open standard and makes it very simple to track the unique identity of an automobile; but of course, to do that you would have to have devices scanning. Fortunately, such scanners have started to spring up at choke points throughout modern cities. These are privately owned scanners with the data being gathered and stored again because itís cheap to store data, vast amounts of data. This data can be piled up along with your financial transactions and anything else and bots can go through it to find persons of interest or they just find patterns or even just to sell you stuff. Iíll give you an example of just a few such devices as a BlueSweep scanner and a BlueSweep scanner is a device that able to identify all bluetooth devices within its radius, identify what their capabilities are, and what exploits they might be vulnerable to. A BlueSniper can do this up to a kilometer away. Letís go a little further down the wall. Thereís the Bluesnarfer you were all expecting. Now Bluesnarfer can use an exploit and given to it by a Bluesweeper to steal your address book, your text messages, your calendar, your pictures of your kitties, and bluetooth car whisperer can push advertising into your car speakers through your carís bluetooth system. Now more worrisome, it could also be used to hook into your car bluetooth phone system to eavesdrop on conversations in the car. Now, if you combine that with something like the TPMS system or any future open standard device, you could pretty much track a car and listen to its occupants as they move throughout the city at any point in the future or at the moment itís happening. Now, so youíre walking through this gauntlet of scanning activity with all the wireless devices and again, Iím sure we were all aware of this, and then thereís of course financial transactions every time we buy stuff with a debit card or a credit card. Who, what, where, and when? Combine that with visual data and all of the other points that tell us who was there with you, where you were going can be used to tell some very interesting stories. So itís a great constellation of information being gathered on us at all times and then of course privately owned devices Hoovering up all these information. So this is the world you live in right now. Who knows what it will be like 10 years from now?
I've found Daniel Suarez' Daemon pretty satisfying on several levels, not the least of which are the stoking of my schadenfreudian and conspiracy-detecting proclivities. Suarez (who has been taken seriously by a lot of smart people) seems to get a lot of things about the world as it seems-to-be-going right enough to raise the hairs on the back of the neck every few pages, and here and there he comes through with bits of insight that link domains in novel ways. One case in point mixes digital geekery with mythology and folklore:
The mythmakers... were the ones who invented rhyme and meter --the programming language for human memory in preliterary civilizations. It was a cultural checksum --a mnemonic device. You couldn't fuck with the code or the rhymes didn't work; and if the rhymes didn't work, people noticed. And so the knowledge of a people was passed down intact. It was a shamanic code. If you fucked with the code, then society lost its collective mind. (pg 600)And so, having finished Daemon, I've ordered its just-published sequel Freedom, and confidently expect it to be as gripping and prescient.
Keith Newstead and Ralph Steadman collaborated on this one, 20 years ago:
Sez Keith Newstead: "It features God rising above storm clouds. Below the earth is supported on 4 elephants which in turn are supported by strange creatures. It was about 10 feet high and I have no idea where it is now."