Friday, September 21

Where’s our country going?

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It has been so frustrating lately watching the state of this country. I just read an article that made me laugh out loud, and seemed to articulate much of what has been bothering me lately, albeit in a much better way than I could have written it. Here’s a good quote:

“So happy fucking New Year, America. While we’re definitely way up shit creek without a goddamn canoe, there is one ray of hope: November 2006 is duck-hunting season in congressional districts across this great land. Lock and load, motherfuckers.”

I have been trying really hard not to fall into “well all those conservative voters are just ignorant” trap. It’s an easy one to fall into, when you see the stats about how many liberals are highly educated and all that, but it’s just not fair, nor is it likely to win them over. I have listened to Mike talk about his time in South Dakota, and it just sounds like it’s not really a long climb but rather a brick wall, and there’s just no getting through. The two sides are speaking different languages, and as outraged as the left might become, it seems like they are all speaking to themselves… like “yeah, bush sucks” and then “yeah, don’t you know it” but then our country goes off and elects a fully Republican Congress and we’re back to square one. I am living in Seattle, a really liberal city, and I feel like I’m surrounded by people with my own political beliefs and I’m unable to actually do anything with my anger that’s been building up. I try to take precautions for my own privacy, but not many, and it just feels like it’s impossible to fight the constant flood of information that builds up in this world, ready to be let out at the drop of a subpeona.

I worry about the ethical implications of my own job — Amazon is up there in terms of corporations that collect lots of data about their customers. I have personal access to all of that data, and the only thing stopping me from launching a massive mining campaign is an agreement not to, and a sense of ethical responsibility that it would be oh so wrong. That, and I can’t really see how I would benefit much from it for it to be worth the risk. And it’s not like we could even do our jobs without collecting the data — we need to know everything about every sale ever placed, in order to provide good customer service and write good software and know how our systems function. But I had an interesting thought — much like the government could make librarians turn over records, could they do the same to Amazon? By forming a business model that requires us to collect every bit of data about our customers (like every other online business ever), do we open them up to an increased risk of surveillance? As far as I know, the information is kept entirely in house, and I’ve never heard of a serious leak or of any government requests, but then again, those sorts of things aren’t exactly in the habit of making themselves known far and wide.

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