Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brains are exploding

Ever since Egypt’s President Mubarak disabled the country’s internet on Thursday, net buzz about a U.S. “internet kill switch” bill has revived. The “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” was introduced last summer by Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins and would give the president the power to turn off critical systems in the event of a cyber attack on the U.S.

Like a lot of citizens I’ve had bi-partisanship and harmony in political discourse on my mind lately, so I took a browse around a couple of right-wing haunts this morning. I thought this surely must be one of those occasions when the political spectrum might bend itself into a cylinder and left and right libertarians could connect. I did see a little of what I wanted to see: comments like, “Well, for once I agree with the ACLU.” The American Civil Liberties Union and 23 other groups came out against the scheme in June. (Letter, .pdf file)

More frequent were remarks that dig in on the left-right stand-off. On Free Republic a commenter mentions that Susan Collins is a “full fledged socialist/marxist that sides with the enemy every time.” The crowd over there often seems to get more steamed up about RINOs than it does about Democrats.

Freepers in the thread are also kicking around the idea of getting into ham radio, which fits with the apocalyptic survivalist rhetoric about food stores, ammo hoarding and gold that you see in certain circles. Am I imagining things or is there often a hopeful, wistful tinge to worries about mass deprivation? If there is, I think I understand it a little; one of my kids loves post-apok fiction and movies, maybe as part of a yearning for a simpler world.

At Glenn Beck’s The Blaze site, the talk is scarier. I made a screen cap of this comment because you’d think it might come down once moderators show up for work.

Please remember a very basic truth, and utter constant in this world: “If you shoot a FEMA NAZI in the right place, with a U.S. Caliber .30 Bullet, that NAZI will fall over dead and won’t give you anymore trouble.”

WHEN, the FED-NAZIS do finally get their marching orders, they will face no less than 30 million rifles pointed at them from behind every blade of grass in this country. The “High Entertainment” will commence the very nano second that this Communist Monkey in the White House, or any other, shuts down the Internet, or makes any one of several other “Trigger” moves.

Blaze commenters are not quite sure what to make of making common cause with the ACLU. One comes right out and states that if the ACLU is against the bill, he is for it, while another is more open-minded, stating that if the ACLU is against it, he’s really against it.

On both sites, any accord between the liberty fighters and the liberties union is grudging. A freeper says the ACLU might be right but he feels sure it is unintentional! A Blaze commenter remarks that a broken clock is right twice a day.

Oh well.


(By the way, I never buy that argument that you can’t judge an issue by blog comments. Sure, you can’t hold a blogger responsible for the opinions of her commenters, but I think a scan of comments to gauge the sense of a sub-culture is every bit as legit as polling or focus groups and more scientific than “man on the street” interviews. Why else would Karl Rove follow so many people on Twitter. You gotta think he’s crunching that data somehow—and that social media sentiment analysis will play a big part in the 2012 presidential elections.

Update: In fact, the coming deluge of election coverage by blogs, reported yesterday in the NYTimes media section, could benefit from a smart analysis of net sentiment. Tech types could invent a whole new category of insight measurement to complete with old-fashioned polling. Product marketers already have a start on this. Instead, the political blog focus will be the horserace. “Great!” tweeted NYU J-school Prof Jay Rosen. (It was meant ironically.) It’s an opportunity for a web programmer/journalism partnership like Jay and Dave Winer talk about on their Rebooting the News podcast. You’d need a gifted web database type—somebody who can make APIs stand on their heads and who can fashion out-of-the-box queries to put Twitter’s simple smiley or frowny attitude switches to shame.)


Posted by amyloo on 01/30 at 04:40 AM

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