20 July 2010


In yesterday's Washington Post, Dana Priest and William M. Arkin revealed the startling growth of secret intelligence agencies and contractors. The article A Hidden World Growing Beyond Control describes the creation since 9/11 of literally thousands of governmental agencies and private contractors devoted to gathering intelligence related to terrorism. The resulting flood of information is uncoordinated, unsupervised, often overlapping, often irrelevant, and monstrously expensive. The sheer volume of surveillance and documentation is beyond the ability of any policy-maker, or group of policy-makers, to even read, much less correlate into a comprehensive view of events. Our justifiable concern over security has mutated beyond recognition into a paranoia which happens to present a financial windfall to those who would profit from fear.

Here is a useful map showing the locations of governmental organizations and companies within Top Secret America, with at least 2,246 government work locations and 7,046 company work locations globally. The map can be explored by city, and the bar graph across the bottom details numbers of locations for particular givernment agencies. Your tax dollars at play.

So is human warfare a trait which we inherited from our primate ancestors? The question is explored by Franz de Waal in his article An Academic War About War. De Waal has also put together a four-part video series on the violent side of the human condition. Collectively called The Bipolar Ape, each tw0-minute segment is concise and informative.

On a more elevating note (as it were), on this day in 1969 the first humans (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with Michael Collins remaining in lunar orbit) set foot on the moon, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon before the Soviets before the end of the 1960s. Alas, the Apollo Program only ran from 1961 until 1975. For 35 years the human exploration of space has been limited to Earth-bound observatories, to the orbiting (and soon to be deactivated) Space Shuttle program, to orbiting missions like the Hubble Telescope, and to interplanetary and interstellar probes. The vision of hands-on human space exploration has been subverted by politics, wars and collective myopia. If NASA enjoyed even one-tenth the budget which we devote to the military, we would be on our way to the stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment