Wednesday, 26 June 2013


the back of a race number 

The Snowden affair.

A man allegedly commits a crime against his homeland, in this case the USA. He goes on the run. He intends to seek political asylum. He turns up in China (Hong Kong). Then he vanishes.

The transit area of an airport in Moscow is where he next appears. Perhaps he hopes the Russians will approach him with some kind of offer.

They, as far as we know, do not.

He has flown there directly from China (Hong Kong) and he is said to be on his way to Ecuador, Cuba, Iceland or some other final destination.

The Russian president is asked to comment.

Snowden has arrived in Russia unexpectedly. He has not crossed the state border. He has no visa. He is in the airport transit area. Russia has no extradition treaty with the USA.

The president explains the intricacies of the situation.

"The sooner he decides on his final destination and goes there the better it will be for him and for us," says the president. 

Then he adds, explaining his non-interest: "It would be like shearing a pig. A lot of squealing and not much fleece." 

The president wishes to maintain what he calls an "international business relationship" with the USA and the international community unlike certain bellicose voices in the US who constantly engage with the world at a less intelligent level.

Since the advent of the internet I have taken it as par for the course that we are all being spied on all of the time. I don't need a fugitive to tell me the obvious.

There's nothing to be done about it. We live in the world of Big Brother. It's fait accompli.

One day electronic chips will be in everything, even our shoes.

When I cross the finish line in a mountain race a chip on my race bib records my time and position. When I use my phone the phone company records my location. I take it to be so with passports, computers, plastic cards, gps devices, expensive cars, valuable machinery and much more. In fact the list is probably almost endless.

I suspect my TV company can tell you which channels I watch. And which programmes.

The supermarket knows what I eat.

We, who live in towns and cities or travel from place to place by whatever means have our image and location captured hundreds of times a day.

Every time we go to the hole in the wall our photo is taken.

It's the same when we go to the public library, the theatre, the football stadium. There's no escaping it, short of becoming a hermit or recluse.

In years to come we will doubtless put the computer chips in all the babies at birth. We already do it with our dogs.

"So it goes," the author of the firebombing of Dresden novel Slaughterhouse Five often points out. Kurt Vonnegut means that things are the way they are whether we like it or not.

Whatever is invented will be used. And whatever has not been invented will be invented.

My barber Gordon, may he rest in peace, was an insightful man and could predict when our local football team would have to piss against the wind.

I never saw him shave a pig.

The consequences for mankind are unimaginable.


  1. I must say these thoughts crossed my mind when I heard the story Gwilym - although not in quite such a poetic way. Frankly - if GCHQ wish to read my e mails and blog - please do - they will fall asleep with boredom.

  2. Pat, I'm sure not.

    They would find your daily blogs about life on a Pennine farm as delightful as I do.

    I'm reminded of a visit I made to an historical exhibition in the Austrian Parliament a couple of years ago. It was explained, which I already knew, that in the Nazi era schoolchildren were 'encouraged' to spy on their parents and report on them to their 'teachers'. And that's Europe within living memory, just 70 years ago.

    We shouldn't be surprised at anything that goes on but we must be alert to the potential dangers even if there's not much we can do about it.

  3. Anybody remember Nixon? Impeached for some domestic spying but not on the whole world.

  4. what bugs me is how he pays for all these flights - what baggage (physically) has he got?


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