Several years ago I read the National Security Administration (NSA) purchased word and phrase monitoring software for their Internet and telephone systems. At the time I asked my frequent correspondence counterparts to "cool it" on what they wrote to me or said on the telephone.
My reasoning was simple - sometimes at hunting camp or in other private discussion there are things said which are exaggerated. Whether it is old friends bragging, the alcohol, or whatever, sometimes things take on a little extra bravado. That there would be such use of hyperbole in these situations is hard to believe, but unfortunately true.
The problem is should the conversation constitute a threat against a federal official, then it might be a felony. I had a guy once tell me he was going to shoot at my car if I drove too fast. I told him that he had probably just committed a felony by talking like that and that he should calm down. You just can't go around verbalizing threats against folks.
Today, if you say that stuff on the Internet or on the telephone then the NSA can pick it up out of billions of words. I not only believe that they do this for calls overseas, I also believe that they monitor all calls in the United States. After all, who knows where a threat against the President or the country might originate? To be safe, I believe that all calls are monitored.
I'm not agreeing nor disagreeing with this new practice. I'm saying: "Watch your mouth in public."
Along those same lines, I object to Letters to the Editor which just point out a "wrong" or a "slight" or which use phraseology like "well, everybody knows" There's a lot of bad stuff in this mean old world and the information we need in your letter is how to fix the problem. Write all and anything that you wish but it would be helpful to offer a solution rather than to expound endlessly the effects on whichever horrific problem is being addressed. I want to read solutions not problems. We should remember we are enjoying the best standard of living ever experienced by humankind.
Changing course, we have the incipient start of a new cold war confrontation in Syria. President Barack Obama has decided to send munitions to the rebels while the regime side is getting aid from Russia and Iran. This isn't a "real" war, it is a "proxy" war so that each side can say that they really aren't at war. Let's understand that war is unimaginably expensive. Basically, the Vietnam War was paid for by replacing the bonds held by the Social Security Trust Fund with a promise to pay at an unstated later time. Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts were bought on issuing credit to ourselves to the tune of about seven trillion dollars.
When we measure the total debt against Gross Domestic Product (GNP) which is the value of all goods and services for a year, we are at about the same point as Greece or 100 percent.
I have to wonder where the cash is going to come from. If we got results from this nation building it would be laudable but I read that the Shiites and the Sunnis in Iraq are killing each other with bombs at an alarming rate. It appears that we declared victory and moved on without much to show for our effort.
The best thing that's happening this summer is that two aggressive high school girls and I are staying well up toward the front of the sailboat racing fleet as we crew together. Iraq, Iran, and Syria seem a long way off when you are up towards the front at the first buoy.