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"The Flying Wi-Fi": Working Out the Bugs

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Message Bernard Weiner
My Silicon Valley friend, one of the most innovative scientists in the country, the one who invented the truth-spray "B.S. Away,"* ushered me into his lab.

"This new invention is only in its trial phase," he said, eyes gleaming in excitement. "But if the current tests are any indication, this device will revolutionize spying, journalism, the whole concept of privacy, everything. I call it 'The Flying Wi-Fi'."

Since his expected patent hadn't come through yet, he swore me to secrecy for how this insect-drone worked. He needn't have bothered, as I couldn't follow his jargoned explanation of nano-technology anyway, but I can tell you this much: The Flying Wi-Fi is about the size of a small moth, it can stealthily hover or remain stationary almost
silently in any location, and it's equipped with an ultra-sensitive wi-fi camera (with an amazing wide-angle lens) and microphone.

"Do you get it now?" he asked me. "Basically, with miniaturized, improved wireless technology components, it sends signals back to the computer base. The data can be viewed, listened to or transcribed into text. Want to see how it works?"

He didn't have to ask me twice. We stepped out into the garden, where he dispatched the Flying Wi-Fi to a house halfway down the block. It hovered outside a second-floor bedroom screen; back at our garden base, we were able to aim the camera and listen to a husband and wife arguing about how they should deal with their teenage daughter's affinity for
smoking marijuana in the school bathroom.

I was amazed, but horrified at the same time. "There isn't any privacy anymore!" I shouted. "Even in your own bathroom or bedroom, someone can overhear what you're doing and talking about!"

"Bernie, don't be so naive. That kind of directional sound-collection technology has existed for decades; you see variations of it every week when TV covers professional football -- those guys on the sidelines
with their primitive round sound-collectors aimed at the action. The difference here is that you get clear visuals, too, and you don't need
a whole team of cops or spies or sound- and camera-men; you just send out your little Flying Wi-Fi drone and sit back at your computer base
and everything comes to you, without anybody being the wiser."

"That's the part that scares me," I said."Currently, at least you might be able to spot somebody across the street aiming a sound-collector toward your house. But with this little guy, it will be seen, if at all, as just the proverbial 'fly on the wall,' no need to worry."

"Well, I told you that this was going to revolutionize the concept of privacy," he said, "but don't forget that it will also totally alter the way journalists and bloggers gather information and dispense what they learn. The democratization, and instant dissemination, of information. Government officials better watch what they say."

Three days later, we were in Washington, D.C. (he paid for the airline tickets) for a more meaningful test run. What follows are snippets of
conversations we overheard all over town by sending our Flying Wi-Fi into or close to private offices, departmental buildings, officials' homes and cars, and so on.


Unidentified Staffer: Oh you're good, Karl!

Rove: Yeah, this time I've got their nuts in the cracker. If the Dems vote to support Bushboy's military tribunals at Gitmo, we win. If the
Demoncrats oppose the trials of those major al-Qaida prisoners, we just say they're supporting Osama bin Laden. It's a win win for us; either way, it'll pay off at the polls in November. We can worry about what the courts say about our in-their-face approach much later, and, if we have to, keep making adjustments until the cows come home. Christ, we
can probably play this out until after the 2008 vote!

We've still got a hell of a lot of work to do. True, we've got our dumbskull fundies; they're such True Believers they'd stick with us if photos appeared of Bush servicing a lonely sheep in the Oval Office.
But our poll numbers with the rest of the folks who usually vote Republican are in the toilet. We're doing the fear number and denouncing those who oppose our war policies as terrorist-supporters --
hey, did you catch the Swift Boating version of 9/11 on ABC? Right on schedule! But so far, the numbers aren't going up fast enough. Either the public is on to us, or we just aren't frightening them enough.
Seems like Americans move toward us only when they're scared out of their wits, as they were on 9/11. Hmmm. I wonderwhat might possibly happen this month or in October.

Might not even have to think about that. Our friends are active in so many states in making sure the voting rolls are purged of those who shouldn't be allowed to vote, if you get my drift. And the voting
machines are as reliable as usual -- which translates into being very helpful for our side. So come November 8, we should be holding onto the
House and the Senate. Not by much, but I don't care. One vote over 50% is all we need to continue on for another two years, full steam ahead. Those pinko suckers, as usual, will never know what hit them.


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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
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