There Is Only One Batman In The World – Yes, It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, today is fact day on the fasab blog.

And apparently there is only one batman in the world.

That and other unusual offerings below.

Enjoy.

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fact 01

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In Germany you are not allowed

to run out of gas on the highway

 German autobahn traffic

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Although there are McDonald’s restaurants

in 119 countries,

40% of the total number are found in the US.

The only place in the continental US

that is more than 100 miles from a McDonald’s

is a desert in northwest Nevada.

 McDonald's sign Ruby Mountains Nevada

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The mayor of Batman city in southeastern Turkey

sued Warner Bros for using his city’s name

without permission.

“There is only one batman in the world”

he was quoted as saying.

 Batman

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The Museum of Non-Visible Art

sells art that only exists

in the imagination of the artist.

In 2011 a moron

– sorry, a woman –

bought one of their “non-visible”

art pieces for $10,000.

I wonder if she hung it on her imaginary wall

in her imaginary house???

 Empty-picture-frame Museum of Non-Visible Art

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In space,

about 10 billion light years distant,

there is an enormous water vapor cloud

that is estimated to hold up to 140 trillion times

the mass of water found in all Earth´s oceans.

 black-hole-quasar-water-cloud

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And still with space,

in typical bureaucrat fashion,

just in case life is found on some other planet,

NASA has an Office of Planetary Protection

already prepared.

 NASA Office of Planetary Protection

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The cardboard thingy that goes around

your coffee cup is called a ‘zarf’.

 zarfs

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The inventor of the diesel engine,

Rudolf Diesel,

committed suicide because he thought

his invention wouldn’t be successful.

 Rudolf Diesel

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Despite being the largest pre-Colombian American empire,

the Incas never developed a written language.

Thus there are no census records available

and estimates of the size of the Inca population has

varied widely from 4 million people to nearly 40 million.

 inca_man

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Karl Marx was once a correspondent

for the New York Daily Tribune.

 karl marx new york daily tribune

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Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination

just a few days before it happened.

He dreamt he could hear sad wailing in the White House

and, in getting up and trying to find it,

finally came upon a room with

mourners and his own corpse…

 Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination

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The first official fan-made music video

was Grégoire Pinard’s claymation video

of Placebo’s song “English Summer Rain”.

The band were so impressed that

they decided to make it official.

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The Only Way Is Up, Unless It’s Sideways.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Federal-Reserve-Seal-logo

It has been nine years since the ‘Fed’ put up interest rates in the US. Not a day goes by when some pundit or other is explaining why an interest rate rise is imminent whilst yet another is warning that the US dollar is about to collapse in a heap.

There’s even a fed funds futures market for people to bet which way they think it is going to go.

For what it’s worth, I think the US dollar will weaken from its current position because a lot of the support it is getting lies solely in the belief that interest rates are about to start going up.

Much of that dollar support is created by continual talk from Yellen and the Fed about raising rates. But the fact is that every time they reach the point at which they said interest rates would rise, they chicken out.

us dollar

So why does the Fed keep making big promises that it hasn’t the nerve to keep?

Good question, I’m glad you asked.

Although it might make them look a bit foolish, what their continual rate rise threats also do is to help to discourage speculation in US stocks and bonds – not a healthy thing for any economy.

If they do, do it, I don’t think they will until very late in 2015 – maybe not until 2016.

2016?

But wait.

2016 is an election year.

2016 US Election year

Will Obama deliberately burst Hilary’s Democrat Party bubble by allowing interest rates to rise? He might do it out of spite I suppose. There’s no love lost between them since Obama beat her for the candidacy and then won the Presidential election eight years ago.

But I think the election year may mean we are looking at 2017 for those rate hikes.

So who is right, me and people who think like me or the great unwashed of the media who are still predicting an imminent rate hike.

I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but I think I might risk a few zero interest dollars that they are wrong and I’m not.

Stay tuned for some gloating or a big spoonful of humble pie come June this year.

humble pie

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Some Baby Facts Included Today.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, baby facts and a lot of grown up facts too in this selection.

Hope you find something of interest.

Enjoy.

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did you know2

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In spite of their crying sounds,

babies tears don’t begin to flow until they

are around 4 to 13 weeks old.

 baby crying

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Anne Parrish, an American writer was browsing

in a Paris bookstore one day when she came across

a book called, ‘Jack Frost and Other Stories’.

She began to tell her husband how she loved

the book when she was a child.

He took the book, opened it,

and inside the cover were written the words

“Anne Parish, 209 N Weber Street, Colorado”.

 Anne_Parrish,_children's_author,_head_shot

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The Titanic had its own newspaper

called The Atlantic Daily Bulletin.

 The Atlantic Daily Bulletin

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The term ‘Geek’ first showed up in northern Britain

in 1876, when it was used to refer to a fool.

Americans tweaked the meaning and by 1957 it meant

‘an unsociable and over-diligent student’.

Of course, once computers turned up in the 80’s,

‘geek’ took on a second meaning as

‘an expert in computers or science’.

 Bill_Gates_Paul_Allen_1981

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The first modern lighter was invented by

German chemist Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner in 1823,

three years BEFORE the match was invented

by John Walker in England.

 Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner

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One of the most iconic military vehicles of all time has to

be the Willys MB Jeep, manufactured from 1941 to 1945.

This small four-wheel drive utility vehicle has

a maximum speed of up to 65 mph (105 km/h)

and an operational range of 300 miles (almost 500 km).

It was used by several countries in WWII,

including the US, UK, France and the Soviet Union.

 Willys MB Jeep

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Technically Europe is not a continent,

it’s separation from Asia was actually a Greek idea.

 Europe map

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While filming Lord of the Rings

in the mountains of New Zealand,

Sean Bean refused a helicopter ride to a set

that was high in the mountains

due to his fear of flying.

He instead hiked up to the set

in his full Boromir armor

every day that they shot up there.

 boromir

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In Indonesia the government has restricted some

lanes of traffic to only cars with 3 or more people

to try to cut down overcrowding on the roads.

Some poor people from the city outskirts

take advantage of this law by offering drivers a

Professional Hitchhiker service,

so they can drive in the fast lanes.

 Indonesia traffic jam

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Genghis Khan believed that a man could be measured

by the number of children he fathered

and consequently his harem included thousands of

women with whom he had a great many children.

So many, in fact, that geneticists have found

that roughly 8% of men in Asia carry his genetic legacy

in their Y-chromosome.

 Genghis Khan  descendents map

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127,000 trees are chopped down every day

in order to keep up with the global demand

for toilet paper.

Holy S***!!!

 toilet paper

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The original ER movie was to be directed

by Steven Spielberg until he became more interested

in another of Crichton’s projects: Jurassic Park.

Spielberg Jurassic Park

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It’s The Movie, Math And Mud Quiz!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

Welcome to this week’s quiz.

Movies, math and mud do feature, as do many other topics.

Is it easy? Is it difficult? Depends on how many answers you know.

But don’t worry, if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz host

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Q.  1:  What is the official language of the United States of America?

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Q.  2:  What bird has only two toes on each foot?

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Q.  3:  On which river are the Victoria Falls to be found?

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Q.  4:  What city is known as ‘Muddy York’ ?

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Q.  5:  What type of creature is a Devil’s Coachhorse?

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Q.  6:  The Lakota call it the Battle of the Greasy Grass. What do we know it better as?

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Q.  7:  What town is also known worldwide as the “home of golf” ?

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Q.  8:  The Bennet family appear in which famous Jane Austen novel?

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Q.  9:  What is the mathematical series that starts 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 called?

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Q. 10:  ‘Alopecia’ is a condition causing the loss of what from the body?

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Q. 11:  What is the device, used mainly nowadays on small engines like those found on lawnmowers, that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine called?

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Q. 12:  What is the usual color of copper sulphate?

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Q. 13:  Which form of cloud has an anvil shape and is associated with heavy showers and storms?

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Q. 14:  What is defined as “Any rock or soil material that has remained below 0°C continuously for two or more years” ?

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Q. 15:  Which insect found in Africa is the host for the parasitic organism that causes sleeping sickness?

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Q. 16:  An Astronomical Unit is the mean distance between which two bodies?

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Q. 17:  How is the fossilized resin of coniferous trees from the Middle Tertiary period better known?

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Q. 18:  Which son of a weaver was a major benefactor of public libraries throughout the UK and US?

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Q. 19:  Where would you be in if you were at the Cresta Run? (A point each for correctly naming the town and the country.)

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Q. 20:  In which movie did Humphrey Bogart say, “We’ll always have Paris”

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  What is the official language of the United States of America?

A.  1:  A bit of a trick question to start with, the United States has no official language.

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Q.  2:  What bird has only two toes on each foot?

A.  2:  An Ostrich.

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Q.  3:  On which river are the Victoria Falls to be found?

A.  3:  The Zambezi.

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Q.  4:  What city is known as ‘Muddy York’ ?

A.  4:  Toronto.

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Q.  5:  What type of creature is a Devil’s Coachhorse?

A.  5:  It is a Beetle.

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Q.  6:  The Lakota call it the Battle of the Greasy Grass. What do we know it better as?

A.  6:  We know it better as the Battle of Little Big Horn.

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Q.  7:  What town is also known worldwide as the “home of golf” ?

A.  7:  St. Andrews, Scotland.

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Q.  8:  The Bennet family appear in which famous Jane Austen novel?

A.  8:  Pride & Prejudice.

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Q.  9:  What is the mathematical series that starts 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 called?

A.  9:  A Fibonacci Series.

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Q. 10:  ‘Alopecia’ is a condition causing the loss of what from the body?

A. 10:  Hair.

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Q. 11:  What is the device, used mainly nowadays on small engines like those found on lawnmowers, that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine called?

A. 11:  A carburetor, or carburetor.

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Q. 12:  What is the usual color of copper sulphate?

A. 12:  Blue.

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Q. 13:  Which form of cloud has an anvil shape and is associated with heavy showers and storms?

A. 13:  Cumulonimbus.

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Q. 14:  What is defined as “Any rock or soil material that has remained below 0°C continuously for two or more years” ?

A. 14:  Permafrost.

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Q. 15:  Which insect found in Africa is the host for the parasitic organism that causes sleeping sickness?

A. 15:  The Tsetse fly.

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Q. 16:  An Astronomical Unit is the mean distance between which two bodies?

A. 16:  The earth and the sun.

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Q. 17:  How is the fossilised resin of coniferous trees from the Middle Tertiary period better known?

A. 17:  Amber.

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Q. 18:  Which son of a weaver was a major benefactor of public libraries throughout the UK and US?

A. 18:  Andrew Carnegie.

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Q. 19:  Where would you be in if you were at the Cresta Run? (A point each for correctly naming the town and the country.)

A. 19:  You would be in the winter sports town of St. Moritz, Switzerland.

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Q. 20:  In which movie did Humphrey Bogart say, “We’ll always have Paris”? 

A. 20:  The line is from the fantastic movie ‘Casablanca’.

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Watch This Space!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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classified space shuttle mission

Have you ever wondered what all those space shuttle flights were about? Not the headline grabbing ones, but all the others. Everybody is at it, the US, Russia, China, the EU….

That’s the ones we know about. There have been many others that are never publicized.

And then there is the question of what happens to whatever it is they put up there when they have served whatever purpose they were originally sent up there to do. They call that bit “space junk”. Except sometimes it isn’t junk at all. It only looks like it.

space junk

For example, the Russian government says it recently detected a group of satellites that are spying on Russia while orbiting the Earth camouflaged as “space junk”.

They made the announcement rather appropriately on April 12, which ever since 1961 is known as “Space Day”, when Russia commemorates Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering voyage into outer space.

There wasn’t so much junk about in his day. Now it is estimated that there are 100,000 objects orbiting planet Earth on any given day. So plenty of cover to hide your spies.

spy satellite

Apparently these ‘disguised-as-junk’ spy satellites are designed to collect signals from Russian telecommunications and other electronic systems.

So far the Russians aren’t saying who these junk satellites belonged to, or whether it had tried, or was going to try, to shoot them down or disable them.

Chinese junk

It would be rather appropriate given the name ‘junk’ if they turned out to be Chinese, but with America’s recent record for snooping on the whole world you’d find it hard to rule them out of the silent running.

Watch this space!

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The Quizzes March On!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The quizzes do March on and we are starting this month with a good mix of questions. Some you should get without too much difficulty and some you will have to think about for a while.

Oh yes, and one that I will be surprised if anyone gets the bonus points for. You’ll know it when you see it.

As usual if you do get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 05

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Q.  1:  ‘Solidarity’ was an important Trade Union in which country in the 1980s?

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Q.  2:  In lawn bowls (and its indoor version), what is the target ball called?

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Q.  3:  Which creature lives on mulberry leaves?

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Q.  4:  In the USA what cities are known as the

 a) Big D?    b) Steel City?    c) City of Brotherly Love?    d) Emerald City?

(A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if get all four correct.)

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Q.  5:  In relation to power what is the equivalent of 746 watts?

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Q.  6:  What word denoted the new policy of openness adopted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the Soviet Union?

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Q.  7:  What well known pottery form takes its name from the Italian for “baked earth”?

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Q.  8:  How long did Rip Van Winkle sleep for?

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Q.  9:  What term is given to a piece of rock or metal from space that reaches the surface of the Earth?

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Q. 10:  The suffix ‘stan’ is Persian for ‘place of’ or ‘country’. The names of seven countries end in ‘stan’, what are they? (You get a point for each one you can name correctly and five (yes, 5) bonus points if get them all correct.) 

a) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan  

b)  _ _ _ _ _ _ stan       

c) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

d) _ _ _ _ stan      

e) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan      

f) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

g) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan

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Q. 11:  What color is the most-prized variety of jade?

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Q. 12:  Whose theorem uses a 3, 4, 5 triangle?

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Q. 13:  Piraeus serves as the port for which major city?

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Q. 14:  Which insects communicate with one another by dancing?

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Q. 15:  What was the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine?

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Q. 16:  What creature is an ophidiophobe afraid of?

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Q. 17:  In the US and the UK what is the name given to the government department responsible for formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies?

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Q. 18:  Which of the 12 Zodiac signs start with the letter ‘L’ ?

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Q. 19:  Which English politician, when told by Lady Nancy Astor that if he were her husband she’d put poison in his coffee, replied that if she were his wife he’d drink it?

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Q. 20:  What popular song originated as the jingle “Buy the World a Coke” in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola? (A bonus point is available if you can also correctly name the group.)

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  ‘Solidarity’ was an important Trade Union in which country in the 1980s?

A.  1:  Poland.

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Q.  2:  In lawn bowls (and its indoor version), what is the target ball called?

A.  2:  Jack.

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Q.  3:  Which creature lives on mulberry leaves?

A.  3:  The Silk worm.

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Q.  4:  In the USA what cities are known as the

    a) Big D?      b) Steel City?      c) City of Brotherly Love?      d) Emerald City?

(A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if get all four correct.)

A.  4:  The correct answers are   

a) The Big D = Dallas     

b) The Steel City = Pittsburgh       

c) The City of Brotherly Love = Philadelphia            

d) The Emerald City = Seattle

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Q.  5:  In relation to power what is the equivalent of 746 watts?

A.  5:  746 watts is the equivalent of 1 horse power.

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Q.  6:  What word denoted the new policy of openness adopted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the Soviet Union?

A.  6:  Glasnost.

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Q.  7:  What well known pottery form takes its name from the Italian for “baked earth”?

A.  7:  Terracotta.

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Q.  8:  How long did Rip Van Winkle sleep for?

A.  8:  Twenty years.

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Q.  9:  What term is given to a piece of rock or metal from space that reaches the surface of the Earth?

A.  9:  It is known as a ‘Meteorite’.

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Q. 10:  The suffix ‘stan’ is Persian for ‘place of’ or ‘country’. The names of seven countries end in ‘stan’, what are they? (You get a point for each one you can name correctly and seven (yes, 7) bonus points if get them all correct.) 

a) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan   

b)  _ _ _ _ _ _ stan        

c) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan  

d) _ _ _ _ stan      

e) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan      

f) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

g) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan

A. 10:  They are in alphabetical order, 

a)  Afghanistan    

b)  Kazakhstan    

c)  Kyrgyzstan   

d)  Pakistan    

e)  Tajikistan   

 f)  Turkmenistan    

g)  Uzbekistan

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Q. 11:  What color is the most-prized variety of jade?

A. 11:  Green.

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Q. 12:  Whose theorem uses a 3, 4, 5 triangle?

A. 12:  Pythagoras.

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Q. 13:  Piraeus serves as the port for which major city?

A. 13:  Athens.

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Q. 14:  Which insects communicate with one another by dancing?

A. 14:  Bees.

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Q. 15:  What was the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine?

A. 15:  It was called the ‘Nautilus’.

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Q. 16:  What creature is an ophidiophobe afraid of?

A. 16:  Snakes.

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Q. 17:  In the US and the UK what is the name given to the government department responsible for formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies?

A. 17:  Treasury.

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Q. 18:  Which of the 12 Zodiac signs start with the letter ‘L’ ?

A. 18:  They are Leo and Libra.

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Q. 19:  Which English politician, when told by Lady Nancy Astor that if he were her husband she’d put poison in his coffee, replied that if she were his wife he’d drink it?

A. 19:  Winston Churchill.

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Q. 20:  What popular song originated as the jingle “Buy the World a Coke” in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola? (A bonus point is available if you can also correctly name the group.)

A. 20:  “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) by The New Seekers.

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I Spy With Your Little ‘i’ – A Free And Open Internet?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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internet surveillance

When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.

Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.

Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.

The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.

It was a free and open internet.

world wide web

So how could it ever go wrong?

Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.

During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.

The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.

A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.

google for profit surveillance

Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.

Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.

Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

ennesssseh

Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.

If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.

This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.

Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.

prism

The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)

The list goes on and on.

After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.

The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.

IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.

Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.)

And so it continues.

Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.

The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.

No doubt there is worse to come.

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