5/3/7, year 1899 PPE.
There were protests tonight. There are protests on a lot of nights, but when it happens on your own street it’s different, somehow.
Now I’m not political – I’m really not. But I suppose when the local mood changes, you can just feel it, and that’s the way it’s become in the last few years – it started with unhappiness, then a sort of greyish drabness, and then it moved on to discontent. Today was probably the point where it tipped over into anger. The problem is, I don’t think the government’s doing anything about it.
“They’ll have a plan,” Kerayenz told me.
“What if they’re the problem?” I asked. “People can’t just be protesting, for no reason.”
“Well, that depends on whether their protests are accurate, or… maybe they’re just wrong.”
He had a point, but of course, it was one resting on an assumption that the government was, and still is, right about what it’s doing. But of course, I don’t know – I haven’t been paying attention. It makes me feel a bit stupid, to be honest. Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way, but events right now are starting to creep into my worldview whether I want them to or not.
It seems that there is much about reality that never goes away, however much denial kicks in.
There’s got to be some kind of truth behind this. I think I’ve got to find that out. And when I do, I suspect that I’ll have to take sides.
5/3/7, year 1899 PPE.
“Did you see the protests this afternoon?” Perriper asked me.
“Sure did,” I replied. How could I not? Something crazy is going on around the city. Planet Centris generally seems to be tipping over on its axis. Of course, the protestors had a fair point – the decline of civil liberties in this country does seem unwarranted, and the government’s justifications are getting ever more tenuous. It seems to be a vicious circle, though; the more the protests persist, the more the government cracks down, and as a consequence, the protestors have more reasons to protest. Not to mention that people see these protests – it’s still a free press, after all – and decide to join in.
Not me personally, of course. I’ve got Perriper, we’re thinking about kids, we’ve got a house, and in general we’ve got too much to throw away. I guess that’s the problem; as long as plenty of people are in my position, then, well, the government can only claim it’s a minority of people who oppose them, or even care about these issues.
It bothers me, but obviously I’m not going to do anything about it, and that bothers me too. I suppose there’s always that tension in people between what they want for themselves and what they should do, or the world they want and the world they live in, or something, but – I don’t know. It all seems like far too much to think about.
1/4/7, year 1899 PPE.
I guess it was only a matter of time. Which doesn’t make it any less shocking, but all the same, we’d heard about other attempts before, and now it’s finally happened.
The government claimed it was some group – they call themselves Operation Spark Lance, or some such name. Apparently they’re some extremist group that aimed specifically for the main government buildings in Centris City’s central district, but they were off, and the rock they brought down from the nearby asteroid belt two planets out was also too large.
There’ll be public outrage, no doubt, and not incorrectly. O.S.L. is a name I recall from before; they were initially active during the last Progressive Future government, but died down somewhat as Traditional Values came in. They were apparently responsible, some while back (I think it was 3/3/5, but I can’t be bothered with checking this log) for the Nayan Shemm Risa Incident, which of course killed nobody, and the Temfannaina attack, which similarly failed.
Those asteroids are of course a bastard to aim.
Naturally, I checked the networks afterwards, and it’s absurd how many people are on them, blathering all manner of stupid speculations. If only they would just think, for a second. Government conspiracy? Hardly. The rock missed the President by a few hundred metres, and like I said, these things aren’t easy to aim; one wrong move by a fraction of a degree, and the President would have accidentally assassinated himself. I’d be tempted to believe these rumours, but they don’t stack up.
The thing is, as terrible as it is, I was, and am, about four major cities away; it was never going to hit me or anyone I know, and along with hundreds of thousands as a death toll, it shocks to the point of numbness; I just don’t know what to do about it. When I saw the news, what really struck home was how close Spark Lance were – debris and detritus had naturally blown up around the resulting crater and scarred the government buildings they had intended to hit. The President himself had already sent out a quiet announcement that, whilst any broken windows (read: most of them) would be repaired, any craters and marks on the walls that were not structurally compromising would not be. The message was clear, and it was one he would repeat in his main speech: The People Must Not Forget.
The speech itself was, of course, the usual platitudes. I’m guessing other people probably teared up and nodded and agreed with every word thanks to the emotion of it all, and I’m guessing that Spark Lance will probably wind up oblivious to the damage done to their cause. They’re protesting a forthcoming piece of legislation, and indeed they were intending to eliminate the government’s personnel and hence eliminate the problem, but there’s no way that’ll happen now, and there’s no way that not only that legislation, but any other, won’t pass now. We’re not too far away from the elections, either, so there’s another stupid move the Lance has made.
Hey, maybe there is a conspiracy after all…
3/4/7, year 1899 PPE.
Well, there was no ignoring what happened two days ago, and now there’s no ignoring the news, either, as every newspaper, every net-node, every television station drags a dozen pundits each in to comment on what happened and what it all means and what the future now holds. I want to support those who say the government are right on this, and that clamping down on Spark Lance will improve our safety, but I just doubt it. Spark Lance managed to pull something from outer space and splat a large part of Centris city, for fuck’s sake – how is the government supposed to keep up with that? And if they do, won’t the terrorists work around it? Of course, I ask these things knowing that I don’t know the answers, and I also ask knowing that anyone I know doesn’t know any better, either. There’s something really, really awful and shitty about that. Not as bad as the strike itself, of course, but even so – here we all stand, on the edge of the crater, and all of a sudden no-one knows what the fuck to do.
I feel like other people should be more alarmed about that than the mere event, but I guess you can’t chastise people for subconscious choices they can’t control.
3/4/7, year 1899 PPE.
Well, this is going to get nasty, fast. I can see it already – we’re obviously in the middle of the cycle of escalation. The government naturally has to, or will think it has to, respond at some point, and when it does, it’ll hurt far more of us than asteroid terrorism ever has. Progressive Future, always ready for a big opportunity to sell out its support base, will naturally back anything and behave like utter pillocks to show just how much they care about this, and how they’re totally not the soft types who give in to terrorists. Traditional Values, of course, will slander and bullshit their way into pretending that no, these new draconian policies aren’t a continuation of what the previous government did. They’re not draconian, either – I mean, are you supporting Spark Lance or what?
It’s like I said before, though: people won’t act. They either don’t care, or they don’t know, or they’ve got too much to lose. I feel like there has to be some kind of solution. I’ve been a third-party voter for years, but every time I do more than that, get out there and advocate, people tell me it’s a wasted vote. Of course, it is a wasted vote, especially around my area, but it’s a wasted vote because people think it’s a wasted vote, the old self-fulfilling prophecy.
I guess a vote is only worth as much as anyone is willing to ascribe to it.
Is that a bit pretentious, by the way? Or is it actually insight? Not sure. Should probably think about that.
6/6/7, year 1899 PPE.
Public Debate tonight. They went for the town-hall style meeting, amphitheatre setting, only a couple of hundred in the audience but plenty of people lobbing questions in over the networks. Of course, having that kind of setup means that the audience contains the minimum number of agitators and the questions from elsewhere can conveniently be screened. In ninety-nine – no, let’s be generous, ninety-five per cent of cases, this isn’t necessary anyway; I swear people just don’t think, or if they do, not in multiple dimensions. Conspiracy theorising idiots are the only real dissenters, and so, even if they get through – there was one token question, there – even if it happens, they can easily be dismissed as being some bug-eyed loon raving about a load of bullshit.
No, the Spark Lance incident – and everybody knows and repeats the name “Spark Lance” now, where it was rarely used amongst members before – the Spark Lance incident was not a conspiracy, but it’s useful all the same. Anyone paying attention beforehand would have seen the trend leading up to now, but of course, the politicians have long since figured out that shiny logos and making things personal is an excellent way to distract from the issues. Another way, of course, is to then insist that it should be about the issues – the old hidden-in-plain-sight thing.
But yes, the whole debate was depressing, to say the least. At no point was the question “is this bill necessary?”; always it was “will it protect us?”. No, stupid, of course it won’t. When an asteroid comes tumbling out of the cosmos, it’ll take more than a few hundred pages to stop it.
It’ll take someone to pay attention and think beyond soundbites, platitudes and one-sentence summaries. But the only ones who do are the conspiracy nuts, and they do it by stitching all of the aforemention together.
6/6/7, year 1899 PPE.
I feel like I learnt nothing tonight. Every argument, counter-argument and counter-counter-argument starts to make every aspect of what’s going on feel like a bottomless intellectual well of some kind, where knowing more information somehow makes things less clear, instead of more. But in any event, the party leaders, the public, those on the networks, and the presenters, all somehow came together and guaranteed that any normal person watching would… not have the slightest clue what was going on. Well, there’s accomplishment, right there, of a sorts.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s anyone I can turn to about this. I don’t seem to have friends who know shit – a lot of them pretend to, but you know when people are parroting the usual lines and trying to pass themselves off as experts. The networks are a nightmare for this, although there are some (yawn-inducing) places that tend to specialise very tightly on these sorts of things.
Even then, though – how do I know I’m not being fobbed off with someone’s opinion, rather than real analysis?
It’s all so damn confusing.
3/8/7, year 1899 PPE.
OK, so now the government finally wheels the process round to actually debating the new bill amongst themselves. This, of course, will be total bullshit, beyond what normally occurs. Progressive Future will accuse the current government, repeatedly (until it all gets very, very boring) of being too weak, and of needing to strengthen the bill. Traditional Values will argue that it’s plenty strong enough. No-one will ask why it is necessary, because of course, it isn’t – it’s simply a granting of more power to the government and the authorities, and that’s been the trend for some time now. I don’t know why that is. Maybe now they’ve had a taste of dictatorship, they need more. Is dictatorship moreish? It shouldn’t be. Not to a sane, reasonable individual. You might make the usual jokes about how the government aren’t sane and reasonable, but that’s an easy slur; the truth is, most of those guys are probably just honestly doing a job, and being led down the wrong path.
No, it’s the leadership I worry about. Are they fascists? Probably not. They do seem like the type, however, who have accepted their own dogma, which is of course the truly dangerous thing. The kind of leader who’s making an unashamed power grab – well, they’ll have their doubts, and they can potentially compromise themselves. The individual who tells himself there’s no alternative is the one who truly oppresses, because there’s never a moment of faltering there.
We are going through some dark times right now. For me, there’s no doubt that, in my lifetime, opposing the government will become a crime.
At that point, I’ll be the most eager criminal possible.
3/8/7, year 1899 PPE.
I’d say there’s something odd about the new government bill, but there seem to be several “something odd”s about it. Here I was, day off – wasting it, to be honest, just lazily watching the debate and somehow thinking that it might be relevant.
The first something odd, of course, is that it all sounds a bit draconian. Security in place of freedom? Fair enough, but we’ve – or at least, I’ve – heard this several times now. And things never seem to get any more secure – how many of these compromises are necessary?
The second something odd – and this seemed to get to me more than the first – was all the talk of private funding. I wonder if I sound like some conspiracist loon, being bothered by that – I mean, all governments (a lot of businesses too, actually) outsource, so the concept of it isn’t wrong. It’s probably more, now I think about it, that making money off this seems to be a step too far.
Still, once again, there’s nothing I can do.
4/1/8, year 1899 PPE.
The fucking Public Order, Safety And Prevention Of Terrorism (POSAPOT) Act has passed. Now the government can pretty much check anything, including this. Luckily I have encryption. There are people, good people (and to be fair, probably morally questionable people) who are ahead of the game. Terabit encryption, distributed, mixed with noise and quantum-based algorithms – the stack and combination of methods is quite something. Apparently, even the underlying principles of the encryption are in constant flux; the government could have the finest equipment, and they wouldn’t get through, because they aren’t me.
That’ll stick it to them.
4/1/8, year 1899 PPE.
OK, so now I’m getting scared. This whole POSAPOT thing has seemingly gone through, and now there are riots – and I’m talking riots. Things are properly on fire. I swear I’ve heard some sort of explosion out there. I think a tank rumbled past. It’s all just getting too fucking crazy.
At the very least, I’ve got to move out of the city. Perhaps even off the planet. Isn’t there (I know you won’t answer, being a log and all, but I’m trying to ask myself) some kind of theory saying that you can reach anyone, no matter how power their position, or how rich they are, just so long as you go through someone who knows someone who knows, et cetera? I’m tempted to run along that string of people until I find a wealthy man with a spaceship. If that guy can dogwhistle a Qareen ship then all the better. Otherwise I’ll just have to hang around in space for a while. Probably years, actually. But that’s OK. I’ll pay the rent, if need be. If I can work for the guy, that’ll be fine.
You see – just as I wrote all of that – there’s some office building about six blocks away that just went up. That’s how ugly things are getting.
Even if you’re the government, just please fucking tell me that you’re on the right track with the POSAPOT – Act? Bill? Whatever it’s called?
Because if you’re not, then I’m doing a runner. I’d like to say that I’m joining them, but I don’t have the balls to.
4/1/8, year 1899 PPE.
The riots begin, then.
I’m not surprised. I’m also not surprised by the rumours saying that the riots actually started a few seconds ahead of the bill’s passage, and that this suggests another conspiracy. There doesn’t have to be one – we all knew that the bill would pass; it was pretty much common knowledge. 354 members of the government wrote a letter to every major news source stating their intent to vote for it, which meant there was instantly an open and visible majority.
No, there’s no conspiracy here. What there is – and here’s the depressing bit – what there is, is a chance a) for the police to use this law immediately, and b) for the government to push for further laws.
I despair of this place. And now it’s on fire.
1/2/8, year 1899 PPE.
Shayemba wasn’t at work today. At first I thought he’d taken part in the riots, but Kelchun came in and told us all that she was leaving the company, and then the truth outed: they’d come for her too, but he had taken every effort to hide her, and then sacrificed himself in the process. They took him away, and now – well, I’m not sure where Kelchun went; she didn’t say. That was probably for the best. She did say, though, what was wrong.
Apparently, Shayemba wasn’t at the riots, but he had been sort-of involved, with a few degrees of separation. We all just knew him as the IT guy for our team, but apparently he’d set up his own side business selling encryption services, which were then bought by – who else? – the rioters.
The thing was, apparently, those encryptions were just too good. The government hasn’t unmasked a single person through them, so they went for Shayemba instead. He knows where Kelchun’s going, so apparently, there can be a good ending to this. She’s sceptical, though.
I remember there was only one response I had to that story, and that’s why I’m writing this in a hurry.
“I’m coming with, if that’s OK,” I said.
Kelchun isn’t really who I’d have called a best friend, but she probably is now. Tomorrow, the pair of us are out of here. Today, this log stops. Goodbye to anyone with the permits to read this – but I’ve just got to go. I’ve got the time and the date up here, in my head, and from then on… I don’t know. But it has to be better.
2/2/8, year 1899 PPE.
I’m laughing my fucking ass off.
Not at the rest of the Shayemba Systems guys – that’s sad and wrong and unjust and all manner of terrible things. No, the real news is that even after they captured him, they can’t find a single damn client. They can’t find ’em because the product’s too good, and it was used itself in the purchasing process, so Shayemba himself can’t say who he’s sold it to. His office apparently contains nebulous messages – also encrypted – which suggest that he’s sold not merely to individuals, but major companies too. Pirated copies of the software are spreading across the networks.
The bill has been defeated, because of course, as usual, the networks are one step ahead.
We’ve successfully stuck it to ’em. Personally I’d like to see the fuckers crushed, but suggesting it over the network has been met with reluctance, at most. Most people seem to be arguing that, hey, these guys have been democratically elected. Yeah. By a sham of a democracy and an ill-informed electorate, who rely on the media and their lies to make a decision. Hobson’s choice and misinformation – how democratic is that?
Still, they’ll come to agree with me sooner or later.