Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tinfoil Hat

"Why are you so paranoid, Mulder?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because I find it hard to trust anybody."
- Scully & Mulder, The X-Files, "Ascension"

I seem to have a habit of using either my clients or my wife's friend as anecdotes on my blog. It's a potentially dangerous habit if either were to read my blog. But, I don't use names and I don't know of any of my clients who are actually aware that I have a blog. And at this point in my life, and with me having my own business, even if a client somehow did figure out they were being ridiculed and took offense, losing their patronage would not bother me that much.

Usually, I use them to illustrate some right-wing or religious nuttiness. Well, I'm going to draw from the well once again, but this time it's on the other end of the spectrum. I used to frequent Democratic Underground, especially in the days around the last couple of elections ('04 an '06). There are discussion groups on the site for different areas of the country and I would occassionally lurk in the Arizona group. Sometimes I would join in. On one occassion, a poster asked for a computer consultant and I ever so humbly offered my services. It worked out well for that client and they have referred me to other friends on and off the Dem Underground site.

Now, I consider myself very liberal, but I'm friggin' Ronald Reagan compared to the few that I've met. They mean well, are very kind and active in their communities, but they all seem to have an unhealthy paranoia. I have a general mistrust of our current administration and do feel that our civil rights are being infringed upon. But my leftist friends are X-Files/black-helicopter/conspiracy-theory kooky. We're talking break-out-the-tinfoil-hat kooky.

One called me today to set up an appointment for this week. She believed that her internet connection wasn't working because her boyfriend had started a petition seeking to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio and this was the Sheriff department infiltrating their computers. I calmly explained that in my 15 years and thousands of computers that I've worked on, I've never seen such a thing. I'm not saying that the technology doesn't exist to facilitate it, but rather that if Sheriff Joe took the time to chase down and hassle everyone that has said anything negative about him, he'd never get a minute of sleep and would spend billions of dollars making it happen. One of my best friends used to work in the Maricopa County Sheriff's IT department and knew Joe well (she even got me this swell autographed poster). He was much more concerned with getting his mug on national talk shows than with anything important.

The lesson here is - it's good to have a healthy mistrust of your leaders. Don't take them at face value. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you. The last few years have certainly shown that to be true. But don't let that paranoia cripple you and temper it with some common sense.

"I was walking home one night and a guy hammering on a roof called me a paranoid little weirdo. In morse code." -- Emo Phillips


Laura said...

In the grand scheme of things, I try to stick to Occam's Razor: The simplest explanation is probably the right one...

I've met a few crazies here and there. If you read SME's blog at Blue Apples she runs into them all the time now. Ask SME about gangstalking... there's paranoia. I did meet a Streetwise vendor in our neighborhood (that's a local newspaper sold by impoverished and/or homeless people who get 75c on the dollar and job skills). We got to talkin about something outside the sandwich shop where she sits and she started telling me about FEMA concentration camps built underground where they put the subversives to work, and how they're injecting people with alzheimers and giving us invisible ink tattoos for scanning. And I was like "uh. ooook" I mean, I do think that much of our government is corrupt and that there is a weird sort of aristocracy when it comes to who gets to be President. But underground FEMA concentration camps?

wunelle said...

Yeah, this seems an unlikely explanation for her computer problems...

I guess I'm not really sure where I fall on the political spectrum any more. After the past eight years, every sane person (to me) seems to the left, and I surely am on some things; but I'm just skeptical of all political zeal, and nuttiness can be found everywhere.

CyberKitten said...

I used to work in IT support (2nd line rather than 1st line) & its amazing how many people jumped to the initial conclusion that any problem was caused by a virus. It was quite difficult to convince some users that computers just ain't that reliable!

That's not to say that I don't take reasonable precautions.. or as some people have told me *unreasonable* ones!

dbackdad said...

Laura -- It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that there have been conspiracies. I've always been doubtful of Oswald acting alone. But, as you say, in just about every case, the simplest answer is usually the correct one.

Wunelle said, " ... every sane person (to me) seems to the left" -- I tend to agree. Every time that I have seen a glimmer of sanity or honesty by someone on the right, that same someone would quickly disappointment me in something else they did or said (McCain, Paul).

CK said, "That's not to say that I don't take reasonable precautions..." -- It's better to be safe than sorry. The government, or anyone for that matter, certainly has the capability of snagging our info, even if they haven't done so yet.

Laura said...

Dback: We saw a really interesting show on HBO a couple weeks back - a foresnsic expert medical examiner who actually testified in the JFK assassination case explaining why he thought it was a lone gunman and that the botched autopsy (inadvertently screwed up by secret service and poorly trained medical examiners) actually was what spurred the theory of two gunmen. Very interesting.

Eric said...

How do we know Sherrif Joe hasn't taken over your computer, and posted this as you?

hockey thursday,
lets go 'yotes!

dbackdad said...

Me and Joe are tight. He COULD have written this entry.


A couple of pale ales and some bernaise sliders at the Yardhouse and then the Coyotes pasting Nashville -- sounds like a fun Thursday for a couple of aging computer nerds. We can still let the hair down occasionaly (though I have more to let down).

Though Eric did a pretty good job of having fun by himself in Seattle last week. Seriously, the man needs to write a foodie blog. He's got a gift for describing restaurants.

Scott said...

Arpaio is a legal Positivist tool.

dbackdad said...

"... legal Positivist tool" - lol. I just about sprayed when I read that. So true.

Blogger said...

Claim FREE satoshis from Easy Bitcoin Faucet. 11 to 33 satoshis every 10 minutes.