As I write these words I am sitting in the living room. Technically, it’s a porch but the easy chair, glass of afternoon beer, and somewhat stable net signal make it feel like more of a living room than the actual living room which consists of a TV too old for words and the folded mattress where I’ve been sleeping.
Technically, the porch is outside and the living room is inside, but these kinds of distinctions become academic in a situation where all doors and windows are kept as far open as they can possibly be in the hopes of promoting a cross breeze all day and all night. The porch/living room, kitchen, and living room/bedroom may as well all be pavilions in a gazebo. Only my hosts’ bedrooms are ever really sealed and only when they’ve got overnight guests. (Not that it matters, the walls are old and thin.)
Some kind of mysterious transaction just went down in the back alley. I’m not supposed to have noticed it, says Aton. Best not to notice anything around here. But it was broad daylight and how could I not hear the low growl of the engine? It sounded like a gas engine, a real guzzler. Could have been a roadtone, I know, but it sounded genuine to me. I think I even saw smoke.
Last night, we went down by the canal and lit a bonfire. It was pretty nice, though I found it hard to get into at first – too nervous about cops showing up. Samantha laughed at me, said that there was nothing to worry about. Showed me how you can rewire a temp-permit and fix the dates with the right kind of data-paste. She says people leave expired permits all over. I didn’t ask where she got the paste.
In the end it didn’t matter. No one showed up aside from more friends and friends of friends. Late into the night a group split off to go to a place called something like WARHOGS or whatever, Samantha left but I decided to stay behind. Lay in the grass with a few of the quieter folk, trying to spy stars through the clouds. Had a long inchoate debate about whether the clouds or stars were moving and if it was the stars, were they really satellites or one of the stations? I tried holding my finger still as a reference but by that point everything was too wobbly to really achieve much in the way of scientific accuracy.
I wandered home in a pleasant haze.
Did I tell you? They’ve got real records here. Like antique ones, not the cheap retro ones that you can get in any old onDemand outlet. Aton says that the old ones sounds better, even though they can’t hold as many songs. They’ve got more character, he says. They last longer. I asked about their carcindex, but he just laughed. There’s a lot of really great stuff here. Bands I’d never heard of. I’ve taken some pictures and I’ll try to assemble a collection for you sometime this week.
This morning, Sam took me up on the roof to see the stills. It’s an astounding network of tubes and tubs. I tried to follow the line from rain collectors, through to the casks on the other end. I kept getting lost in the tangle. Sam says that if I stick around long enough, she’ll show me the ropes (pipes).
Pretty much everything involved comes from the rain (don’t worry, Sam made to point out their quadruple filtration and reverse osmosis system) or the freedom garden which is run by a New Organist collective just up the street. They supply the supplies and Sam supplies the resulting booze.
They’re completely illegal of course and the patchwork of tarps and scrap material can’t possibly be hiding them from Constellation. Sam says that out here we’re barely worth bothering about so they just don’t. Aton muttered something about a million eyed-god being blind.
We talked a little about tactics last night. Aton says that the privacy war is over and that the people lost. He says that our only real remaining resort is to inefficiency. It’s like when those guys flew those planes into America. Apparently, the echelons of power already knew it was coming but they knew so much other stuff as well that the information just got drowned out on the way to a decision getting made.
Aton says that when you get pick-pocketed, they get away with it because they put pressure somewhere else on your body at the same time, so you are too busy feeling the one thing to notice the other. He says the only path to freedom is to put so much pressure on the system all over the place, that it can’t notice anything at all.
Apparently there was an old philosopher who hated the government too, who used to say “starve the beast” but Aton says that’s all passed now. You could cut half the surveillance feeds at the swipe of a pen (as if!) and we’d still have more than enough information being fed into the echelon – it wouldn’t impact things at all. So he and Sam are taking the opposite approach.
We’re going out tonight, with bags and bags of sensors and cameras that we’re going to set up and donate to the public feeds. Some of these devices are faulty in all sorts of really interesting ways. We’re going to put them up all over the place, in the least interesting places possible. We’re going to do this for weeks and weeks, just adding more and more mud to the stream.
I also heard Sam say something to Aton about the Russians renting some time on one of their botnets. I think the plan is to put those spam engines to emancipatory use, replacing sex ads with Home Sec keywords. I heard a rumour that their analysis engines are already months behind in processing. They’ll stay that way so long as we can keep the heat on to deny them future budget expansions (all the more reason to ask our brothers and sisters in the capital to redouble their lobbying efforts).
I don’t know if it’ll amount to much in the end, but it seems like the only path we’ve got left.
“Drown the beast.”