Doom of a different colour

Somewhat triggered by zadcat's livejournal entry, but of a less basic nature, I guess.
This appeared in my own livejournal in June 2002

As personal doom goes, I'm not doing so bad. Not yet 30, full-time employment, savings, health, and so forth. A girlfriend might be nice, or a better social circle (like, one that's social), but anyway.

I fear for the future. I'm looking at the encroaching nature of Big American Corporations, and America itself, and what it means for both my personal and professional lifestyles, and it depresses me.

The American Entertainment Industry is pushing to prevent me from doing what I want with music and movies I've paid for. They're telling me that my $15 spend on a CD does not, in fact, give me any sort of ownership of that CD that makes sense. I'm not to use it in my computer, I'm not to give it to my friends, I'm not to sell it second-hand, I'm not to fold, spindle, or mutilate it in any way that RIAA or ASCAP disapproves of.

I'm in IRELAND. EUROPE. Yet the RIAA, an American cartel designed to filter money out of public hands and into itself, with a pittance cast on the performers for whom the RIAA is ostensibly acting, is dictating how I can listen to music. And the MPAA is doing likewise for movies.

And that's just my personal life. Of more concern is my professional life. I'm a Unix geek (Hi AjD) by trade, and I am used to being able to tinker with the software and systems I work with if they don't do what I want. All you Windows and Mac people are stuck, more or less, with what you're given, and if you like it, that's fine, but personally I don't. This is not a political thing or a "human rights" thing or any other arbitrary flagwaving thing; this is what I do. Me, personally, and professionally. I tinker with computers, and people pay me for it.

Enter, again, the American Megacorp and its biggest backer, the American Goverment. Microsoft, Intel, AMD, IBM, all trying to generate yet more money for themselves (Microsoft has $40 billion in the bank, and they're adding to that. Even with loss-leading products like the XBox and Internet Explorer, they are adding to a $40 billion bank balance), have proposed a computer that can't be tinkered with. Oh, sure, you can tinker with it all you like, but if you want to interact with the real world, you'll have to have an untinkered system to do so. Buying books from Amazon? Sorry, sir, you've tinkered with your computer. Oh, sorry, that's personal choice. I was talking about my professional life. Trying to set up a website for any sort of online service? Sorry, sir, you've tinkered with your system. We can sell you an untinkered, untinkerable system for vast quantities of money, and a subscription - which you'll need, because last year's untinkerable system won't work this year - will cost you a bit more.

I try not to be pessimistic about this, but it's all about money. Not security, not tracability, not accountability, not protection of you and your data from TERRORISTS, the new favourite bugbear of anyone with a fucked-up agenda to push, no, it's about money. And a quick peek at any human endeavour since we got civilised and stopped killing each other in disorganised ways will reveal that if the key issue is money, then you can bet that the outcome will be the one that generates most or loses least dollars. Just this morning I read a fire chief's analysis of the WTC collapse, and summarising, he said the collapse was brought about by insufficient fireproofing, which was due to building codes that allowed for cost-cutting at the expense of safety. And it's been beaten to death that the nice men from the middle east carried out their mission unimpeded in part because the security guards who work at the airports are paid minimum wage and trained as cheaply as possible. And the plane burst into flames because it's too expensive to retrofit flame-retardent compounds into the fueltanks. And heck, if you want to get down to brass tacks, the presence of a 110 storey building in downtown Manhattan is in part due to the fact that the price of property there is so high that the only practical way of getting return on investment is to build upwards.

So I'm basically looking right now at a future where I will not be able to work at my chosen profession. Which is pretty fucked up, if you ask me.

Gah. Fucking AMERICANS. All this cool technology, and the best thing you can think of to do with it is fuck it up by slapping restrictions on it so you can have more money. Brilliant. And the best my own government can do in response is smile, drop their trousers, and bend over.

It's all about the money.