Fear of Losing the Internet, Your
Religion & the Best Things in Life
There are times when we fancy ourselves as a sort of keepers of the world. We pretend that bad things skip a beat under our watch, or look the other way. It may be all silly, but lately we’re only able to function under the illusion that things won’t turn that mad when we’re around.
Take the past weeks when we were off, for instance. You may argue, things unravel, as they wont to do, regardless of who’s at the helm. But eyeballs in a trash bin? An anti-atheist postal bias? An entire continent severed from the Internet by a pair of scissors? There’s more.
Guess what item is the current hottest U.S. export? But we’ll let you crave about this one for a bit, while we litter your Friday with a bunch of weird news, and a few signposts along the way first. For it wouldn’t be fair, otherwise. After all, we’re not talking about nuke threats from a diminutive Asian dictator here.
In fact, we’re the ones craving about these odd splinters we eagerly collect from the daily grind. As we said before, our files are stuffed with them, begging to be let loose. The only ground rules we’d consider would be to group them with like-minded items, under the general rubric of a world that’s lost its lid.
Which brings us back to the undercurrent theme of this fair Spring day: who can keep up with so much musings and rantings about ‘what I think,’ or ‘what I’d do,’ or how many ways one could count to appreciate the wonder of being themselves. But we digress. The point is to offer you a ride, a spin if you would, and see what still stands, when all is said and done.
THE NET, ITS TUBES & THE DIVING CUTTERS
The biggest, albeit hardly noticed, Internet attack ever recorded happened just the other week, to dismay of those who, by now, take online access for granted. As it turns out, this megabillion bytes digital highway has so many vulnerabilities to make us all fear for its continuous operation, if such attacks intensify.
And they will, we’re told. But we won’t bore you with the nerd details you probably already know, other than saying that your computer was probably made part of it, as a zombie, along with its printer and, hey, even your toaster, for that matter. What we should be asking, though, is why bother?
That’s because three men caught off the coast of Alexandria proved that disrupting the Internet is way simpler than that, at least in theory (and if you happen to be a diver, of course). They were attempting to cut through the SEA-ME-WE 4 undersea cable. Talking about the tubes of the Internet, well, this is it.
Disabling such a prosaic piece of hardware would be disastrous for millions of people in Asia and Europe. It’d immediately cut off the Internet in France, Italy, north Africa, the middle east and Malaysia. Cables like this run all over the world, making sure you get your porn at the click of a bottom.
The latest digital attack, by a shady organization called CyberBunker, has clogged up a staggering 300 gigabits per second of the Internet, so the threat of disruption by hacking is still pretty scary. If it were directed at a major utility, or a nuclear defense system, for example, it’d be downright nightmarish.
But many other nameless thugs may lack the technical expertise to bring the world online to its knees. So the next best thing may be to physically dive for it. At the end of the day, there’s really not much difference between both lines of action for we all stand to lose if any of them succeeds.
POST OFFICE PULLS LEG OF ATHEIST SHOES
In Germany, there’s a company that manufactures shoes for those who don’t believe in god. Whether that’s just a gimmick, or they truly doubt that the universe is ruled by an all-too-powerful invisible being, is besides the point. Theirs is the business of selling shoes and the U.S. is a big market.
They’ve been shipping hundreds of their ‘hand-made, ridiculous comfortable, Bauhaus-inspired shoes.’ But a funny thing was happening on the way between their Alexandrinenstrasse, Berlim address, and the home of good godless Americans: some shipments were taking either too long or would never arrive.
Would it be that they are explicitly labeled ‘Atheist Shoes?’ Perhaps. So the company launched a study, to determine whether regular, more religiously-discreet packages would make to their destination faster than those not too shy to proclaim their agnosticism. And guess what? those were, indeed, taking longer than the bland ones.
And that’s tampering with a post, a federal offense in the U.S., the only country where such a strange display of overt religious candor have been displayed by anonymous postal workers. Decided not to get anyone fired (or going postal, if you indulge us the tiresome pun), they simply switched to non-brand packages and all is back to normal.
We leave to you to draw conclusions about this bizarre state of affairs, its possible implications to what’s going on in the American society right now, and whether we’re letting our personal beliefs to interfere with our sense of fairness. The shoes, though, are kind of nice, in a hipster, cooler-than-thou kind of way.
Which makes us think, how fast products franchised by, say, the Catholic church, fare with the U.S. Postal Service. Are they given undeclared preferential treatment? Would a Protestant worker object to that? Does that have anything to do with the threats, issued by many elected avatars of the religious right, to shut down the service? Then again, should we really care?
KEEP YOUR EYES IN THE TRASH BIN
We’re not in Kansas anymore, said Dorothy. Only in Kansas City, MO, where a gas station worker found a box, labeled ‘Keep Refrigerated,’ with a pair of less than fresh eyeballs in it. A surveillance video (isn’t there always one?) showed that two men in a Toyota pickup had dropped the box in the trash.
The eyes are human, and the box seems to be medical, but let’s not make too much out of it. They got lost, were from the wrong kind, some hospital worker forgot to disposed of them properly, there are a number of perfectly rational explanations that could take the mystery out of it, right?
Are you kidding? Who cares about ‘perfectly rational explanations’ about anything, anyway? We want the gory hints behind the finding, the slightly piercing expression of those two ocular globes staring at everyone. Were they extracted by force? Was there any sign of blood or struggle surrounding them?
The police is far from upfront about it, though, other than saying that no hospital or medical clinic has made contact, asking for them. So, as local TV stations would like to capture for their evening soundbites, ‘the investigation continues,’ or something to that effect. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for that one.
AND NOW THE ONE ABOUT THE ECONOMY
For those who’re patiently waiting for the answer to that quiz, what’s the hottest U.S. export at the moment, here’s what it is not: computer software, iPhones, AK15 Bushmasters, or drone technology, even though any of these or other items come very close. The item most in demand is (drum roll, please): sperm.
That’s right: in the land where some 40 million are living below the poverty line, and where religious organizations spend billions every year to prevent women from exercising their right to skip pregnancy, we’re becoming known as a nation of biological fathers of foreign fatherless children.
It’s a complicated subject, turned very simple and profitable for a multibillion global industry. According to a Brooke Jarvis story for The Verve, some 60% of all sperm processed by the Seattle Sperm Bank ends up abroad. And we’re talking about a lot of it here: the bank keeps some 15,000 samples, each containing millions of individual sperm.
Most of it will wind up fertilizing wealthy couples in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world, really. The disease-free ‘specimens,’ vital to start an otherwise impossible pregnancy, comes from a highly screened group of donors who have no idea who they’re fathering. They only collect hefty checks when that happens.
How come a deeply meaningful experience, that of having a baby, became such a big and impersonal business is akin to the current debate over abortion in this country. The more intrusive and intolerant it becomes, at times downright inappropriate even, the less attention is paid at preventing living, promising children from starving.
As it turns out, organizations interested in preventing abortion are pursuing an ideological goal, not a humanistic or even ‘Christian’ one. In the meantime, families around the world, who could afford raising orphans, prefer instead to invest in the industry of anonymous sperm donors, as far disconnected from their offspring as possible.
They say it’s all about the economy, stupid, but we don’t subscribe to that brand of pragmatism. Compared to the threat of losing the Internet, or finding body parts in the garbage, the possibility of religious dogma to rule over all aspects of society is way more weirder and terrifying.
An argument could even be raised about the unexpected, and frightening, consequences of sexual obscurantism, and its likely correlation to a growing industry of sperm donors. We can’t go that far, though. Ironically, this is, by definition, about one of the best things in life, but we’re no longer that naive to believe that it’s also still free.