Sunday, 13 October 2013

The cyclists are building a surveillance state: a real one

We have just discovered Richard Wellings, a comedian who pretends to be part of a think tank, IEA.

This is funny: he's running a spoof think tank, a bit like The Thick of It without the swearing. More like the coalition side of the series, where they all go on some off-site meeting and compete on daftest ideas: "lets bill poor people for having spare rooms!", or "let's make it legal to run over pensioners", going round this in circles until someone says something like "let's stop building a nuclear submarine fleet for ICBM delivery as the cold war ended in 1989" and then there's one of those silences round the table as the person who said it looks slighly embarrassed and someone else has to step in .

Anyway, This Richard -is he a new Ali G? The Borat of Politics? - is trying to pretend that there is a mass lobby of cyclists secretly trying to build a mass surveillance state?

Look at this tweet:
Massive increase in surveillance and regulation advocated by cycling lobby:

See? Imagining the cycling campaigners, who can't even stop their councils painting over bike lanes, building a police state? Clearly a spoof.

Because if he wasn't a spoof character, if he really wanted to show where the cyclists were building mass surveillance infrastructure, he'd look away from London and over to Silicon Valley, to Mountain view -a city that goes so far as to say "bicycle friendly" by the side of its wide and unblocked cycle lanes

Looking on the Stevens Creek cycle path, we can a small child pedalling on their own, helmetless.

That's bad enough, but it's not what we are talking about -we are looking at the buildings either side of it.

What is that set of buildings on the right?

It's The Googleplex, the mountain view site that hosts the core engineering teams.

What does the Googleplex offer its staff to get around? Hoverboards? Autonomous Cars? No: bicycles. Shared bicycles. Sharing capital items is clearly communism, sharing bicycles is an attempt to destroy society.

Now look in the other direction, to the eastern edge of mountain view. Strange looking buildings going off into the distance.

This is Moffett Field -a military, government science and private airfield, hosting, amongst other things
  1. NASA Ames research center: the buildings to the right are wind tunnels for testing rockets, be they designed to go into orbit or merely fly over the north pole to deliver their uranium payloads.
  2. The 7th Psychological Operations Group: a psychological warfare unit from the Vietnam War era to keep the country compliant.
  3. Larry and Sergey's Google jets: accessible via the bike path or a 20 minute drive.
  4. Until recently, the Sunnyvale Blue Cube, believed to be downlink and processing point for all the US government spy satellites.
  5. The California National Guard keep trucks and fly planes & helicopters in and out
  6. Until the mid 1990s: Orion planes used to hunt for nuclear submarines in the Pacific
This is the Military Industrial Complex viewed from a single path. One side: the engineers building the systems to store all our personal emails. The other: the NSA, the US army, NASA and its various "secret" space shuttle projects, plus psychological warfare groups.

A short distance away from each other: close enough that you could hook up direct fibre optical links from the NSA buildings to Google -the kind of thing you'd do if you wanted access to the emails.

And what is not so much dividing the area as uniting it, as joining the two together?

That's right: a bike path.

These are the cyclists building a mass surveillance state, and your spoof think-of-it think-tank minion is claiming that its the UK cycling campaigns, well, you're clearly out of your technical depth.

Come up with some that is vaguely realistic and so can entertain us, like, say, having Badgers move the Goalposts or something

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