Sticky digits

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

A July 12 story from CBC reports the Russian government, inspired by the scandals surrounding the leaking of secret documents by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, has decided to abandon digital and return to the typewriter. It is time to buy stock in Whiteout.

I wonder what is going to happen to Snowden. As of this writing, he is holed up in the Moscow airport contemplating asylum. Asylum is a cool word. It either means a safe haven or … an asylum – not always safe or a haven. Haven and heaven are the same word, if you look back a ways. It sounds nice: peaceful and secure. Copenhagen in Dansk is actually København. After a hard day pillaging it was nice to be home.

Of course, heaven, to Snowden, now means Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela or Russia – not exactly the Valhalla Snowden was envisioning when Wikileaks’ Assange was proposing Iceland as a haven.

I wonder what goes with asylum in Bolivia? I mean, do you get an allowance for life? Let’s say you get $100,000 per year and a free car and gas. Bolivia is about 420,000 square miles, which is 10 times the size of Iceland or a bit larger than Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a big place. The fishing on Lake Athabasca is phenomenal. However, if you had $100,000 per year and a car, it would occur to you that across every border there is an arrest warrant. You are stuck. You are in haven for eternity with nothing for company but the voices you hear in the betel nuts. And it’s hot, and the betel nuts stain your teeth brown.

Or, what happens if the government will give you asylum, but no money? If you were Snowden, it might be tough getting a job in government, given your history with state secrets. I am guessing they have enough government-car washers in Bolivia. Also, as established, you can’t travel.

I don’t know what hiring is like in the private sector in Bolivia. Maybe there is a demand for emaciated, pasty, monolingual Americans with an attitude. On the downside, if you were a private businessman looking to get a government contract, Snowden would be a big liability. Slipping an official the required recognition under the table would certainly be noticed and used against you. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu said of spies from the enemy offering to help, you should just kill them. That sounds harsh, but if you ran into real trouble with your host government, where would you turn? There is a U.S. consulate in Santa Cruz, but it’s likely they wouldn’t arrest you, even if you turned yourself in.

I hear Snowden thinks he is practicing civil disobedience. I am actually a fan of the “father” of civil disobedience, Henry David Thoreau. However, Thoreau said you should disobey a government that is doing the wrong thing. More importantly, though, you should take the consequences. Thoreau refused to pay his library tax, but he also went immediately to the jail and forced them to lock him up for it. Not much similarity between Thoreau and a betel-nut hallucination from hell, eh? On the other hand, Bolivia may have different policies regarding civil disobedience than do the U.S. and Iceland. They may lean more to the Sun Tzu theorum.

I have speculated many times on the value of the digital revolution. This may be the information age, but whose information? I told the story before about a trip to the Ligna show in Hanover some years ago. I watched as a bunch of Asian men kept a machinery salesman busy while one of their group crawled on his back under a display model and was taking pictures up at the works. From what I hear of the 3D printer, that photo can now be used to replicate the exact dimensions, angles and curves of every part.

For all digital’s perceived benefits, it looks to the Russian army as if digital is hopeless for serious work. Digital is tailored to theft and sedition.

The famed Bluetooth transmission system was named from Danish king Harald Bluetooth (from his love of blueberries). In fact, the runes of his name constitute the Bluetooth logo. Bluetooth technology may have been used by Snowden, using such practices as bluebugging, bluesniping and bluejacking.

Does anybody have a Royal electric typewriter for sale?

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