This week I am sure you, like me, were terribly annoyed by the emergency warnings broadcast over our cell phones regarding the 911 system. I guess this was sort of a 911 about the 911. Besides the annoyance factor, especially since I was in my office surrounded by 25 or so cell phones that would all activate at the same time, there were two other thoughts that came to mind.
First, don’t you think it is kind of scary someone has the power to control our communications network? Even if you could opt out of getting the warnings (although on the phones I have at work there is no way to do so) you still have no control over what can be done. In my old blog(s) and here, I have talked about the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This was written back in the 1950s, and although some of what Rand predicted is a little off the wall, much of it has actually been coming true. Take the taking over of our communication systems yesterday.
In Part 3, Chapter 7, John Galt takes over the world’s communication systems to broadcast his message. Imagine when this was written, 1957, how far-fetched this must have sounded. There were no cell phones, television was still in its infancy, the first communications satellite wasn’t launched until 1960, other than for a few, this must have been unimaginable. Yet, here we are, it was done this week. Take some time this week to think what this might mean? True, this week I guess we can say it was for the “common good” after all, “If this had been a real emergency” we would have been given further instructions, but can we really be assured this will always be how this will be used? Or, are we getting even closer to “Big Brother“? Certainly, this gives us something to think about.
The second thought going through my mind, although on the lighter side, (“lighter” is a purely relative term) was the Civil Defence Air Raid Warning system used in the late fifties and early sixties. I remember when I was just a young lad seeing several of these around my little town of Southbridge, one was close to my elementary school, and one wasn’t far from my house.I also remember at least once, possibly a few more times, these being tested. I also seem to recall at least once doing the whole “duck and cover” routine. (See below)
I asked myself, “Self, are these sirens still used?” and I found the answer to be “Yes and No” or more accurately “It depends”. Some of the sirens have been converted for use as tornado warning sirens, some such as in Hawaii, have been resurrected as nuclear attack warnings, and some have been left to rust away or been torn down.
I suppose one could argue these systems weren’t much different than what happened this week, but I would argue there is a big difference. This was not taken over the whole communication system. Yes, it could be used for nefarious purposes, but I think it would be easier to learn if there were really an attack coming. You would still have the old dial telephone (remember those?) and at the time they were all regionally owned. I am going to have to do some research locally as to whether or not the system in my town is still usable. I know there are still sirens around, including one down the street from where I now live.
I wonder if back in “the good old days” if there was any resistance to these sirens? ( I have learned there was) These were the days when most people still trusted the government and would blindly follow their lead. People certainly weren’t as vocal as they are today or pissed off, or miserable or…
Take some time to think about this, this week’s communications takeover, Atlas Shrugged, 1984, and other, at the time futuristic writings. Are they indeed coming true?