Posted by dizzy @ 6:23 pm on May 21st 2008

Letters from London: Big Brother is watching you…..

My dear merkin friends,

I know it has been some time since my last letter and I apologise for not corresponding regularly enough. However, my latest letter will be short and sweet because it is already written. You see, “Big Brother” in dear old Blighty wants to get get even bigger, but thankfully it will never work in the way he would like it too.

Should you be wondering what I am referring to, then may I take the opportunity to direct you to my Op-Ed piece that appears in The Times of London today.

Warmest regards



  1. In conspiracy theory parlance (or maybe I made it up), there’s a phrase for this that I find myself coming back to a lot: the myth of the hypercompetent government.

    It’s sort of the same conundrum that so-called conservatives face in America: if central authority is so bad at controlling society, why on earth would you think that wouldn’t extend to international affairs as well as domestic ones?

    In this case, if government is so incompetent at basic logistical and managerial affairs, why would we assume that when they turn their attention to nefarious below-the-radar schemes, they’d suddenly become supernaturally efficient and effective?

    However, there’s a tension here. For one, they don’t HAVE to be particularly effective to do damage, as you allude to in your final paragraph. The pie-in-the-sky Big Brother approaches may not work as hoped, but they certainly shore up a lot in making the attempt (not just in terms of money, but in terms of authority, precedent, etc). Eventually, though they may never meet their long-term goals, they’ll be stockpiling enough capacity that they’ll always be moving in that direction, and even settling for what is, say, a 10% practical capacity (or 1, or 20), that’s a helluva lot (and the capacity will always be increasing).

    And alternatively, their inefficiency can in some ways be worse. Absent being able to monitor EVERYBODY, they’ll have to make choices, and you better believe that the data points they choose to surveil are going to be the ones most vulnerable, i.e. the unpopular, the mistrusted, etc. The government might not be getting around to Unix sysads, but you better believe they’ll make a point to get to mosques, or anarchists, or what-have-you. Maybe that’s as it should be—it gets down to a question of profiling I suppose. But that’s small consolation. And, as I said, as their capacity rises, so does the net they’re able to cast.

    It’s useful to note that the pie-in-the-sky Big Brother schemes will never amount to everything, but they’ll almost always amount to something.

    Comment by Brad — 5/21/2008 @ 7:00 pm

  2. In other news, dizzy has an op-ed published in the damn Times. Which pretty much rules.

    Well done, that man.

    Comment by Adam — 5/21/2008 @ 7:42 pm

  3. Yeah, I’ll echo that. That is big-time, no two ways about it.

    Comment by Rojas — 5/22/2008 @ 12:56 am

  4. Cheers gentleman!

    Comment by dizzy — 5/22/2008 @ 3:46 am

  5. I met dizzy yesterday.

    He has lost weight.

    Comment by Adam — 5/24/2008 @ 5:21 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.