> Mission? Potrero Hill? Noe? East Bay?
> Just wind me up k thx?
She stopped winding.
> You scared?
> Safe — why do you care?
> Just curious
I was getting a bad vibe off her.
She was clearly more than just curious. Call it paranoia.
I logged off and shut down my Xbox.
Dad looked at me over the table the next morning and said, "It looks like it's going to get better, at least." He handed me a copy of the Chronicle open to the third page.
> A Department of Homeland Security spokesman has confirmed that the San Francisco office has requested a 300 percent budget and personnel increase from DC
> Major General Graeme Sutherland, the commanding officer for Northern California DHS operations, confirmed the request at a press conference yesterday, noting that a spike in suspicious activity in the Bay Area prompted the request.
"We are tracking a spike in underground chatter and activity and believe that saboteurs are deliberately manufacturing false security alerts to undermine our efforts."
My eyes crossed.
No freaking way.
> "These false alarms are potentially 'radar chaff' intended to disguise real attacks.
The only effective way of combatting them is to step up staffing and analyst levels so that we can fully investigate every lead."
> Sutherland noted the delays experienced all over the city were "unfortunate" and committed to eliminating them.
I had a vision of the city with four or five times as many DHS enforcers, brought in to make up for my own stupid ideas. Van was right.
The more I fought them, the worse it was going to get.
Dad pointed at the paper.
"These guys may be fools, but they're methodical fools. They'll just keep throwing resources at this problem until they solve it.
It's tractable, you know. Mining all the data in the city, following up on every lead.
They'll catch the terrorists."
I lost it. "Dad! Are you listening to yourself? They're talking about investigating practically every person in the city of San Francisco!"
"Yeah," he said, "that's right.
They'll catch every alimony cheat, every dope dealer, every dirt-bag and every terrorist. You just wait.
This could be the best thing that ever happened to this country."
"Tell me you're joking," I said. "I beg you.
You think that that's what they intended when they wrote the Constitution? What about the Bill of Rights?"
"The Bill of Rights was written before data-mining," he said.
He was awesomely serene, convinced of his rightness. "The right to freedom of association is fine, but why shouldn't the cops be allowed to mine your social network to figure out if you're hanging out with gangbangers and terrorists?"
"Because it's an invasion of my privacy!" I said.
"What's the big deal? Would you rather have privacy or terrorists?"
Agh. I hated arguing with my dad like this.
I needed a coffee. "Dad, come on.
Taking away our privacy isn't catching terrorists: it's just inconveniencing normal people."
"How do you know it's not catching terrorists?"
"Where are the terrorists they've caught?"
"I'm sure we'll see arrests in good time.
You just wait."
"Dad, what the hell has happened to you since last night? You were ready to go nuclear on the cops for pulling you over —"
"Don't use that tone with me, Marcus.
What's happened since last night is that I've had the chance to think it over and to read this." He rattled his paper. "The reason they caught me is that the bad guys are actively jamming them.
They need to adjust their techniques to overcome the jamming. But they'll get there.
Meanwhile the occasional road stop is a small price to pay. This isn't the time to be playing lawyer about the Bill of Rights.
This is the time to make some sacrifices to keep our city safe."
I couldn't finish my toast. I put the plate in the dishwasher and left for school.
I had to get out of there.
The Xnetters weren't happy about the stepped up police surveillance, but they weren't going to take it lying down.
Someone called a phone-in show on KQED and told them that the police were wasting their time, that we could monkeywrench the system faster than they could untangle it.
The recording was a top Xnet download that night.
"This is California Live and we're talking to an anonymous caller at a payphone in San Francisco.
He has his own information about the slowdowns we've been facing around town this week. Caller, you're on the air."
"Yeah, yo, this is just the beginning, you know? I mean, like, we're just getting started.
Let them hire a billion pigs and put a checkpoint on every corner. We'll jam them all! And like, all this crap about terrorists? We're not terrorists! Give me a break, I mean, really! We're jamming up the system because we hate the Homeland Security, and because we love our city.
Terrorists? I can't even spell jihad. Peace out."
He sounded like an idiot.
Not just the incoherent words, but also his gloating tone. He sounded like a kid who was indecently proud of himself.
He was a kid who was indecently proud of himself.
The Xnet flamed out over this.
Lots of people thought he was an idiot for calling in, while others thought he was a hero. I worried that there was probably a camera aimed at the payphone he'd used.
Or an arphid reader that might have sniffed his Fast Pass. I hoped he'd had the smarts to wipe his fingerprints off the quarter, keep his hood up, and leave all his arphids at home.
But I doubted it. I wondered if he'd get a knock on the door sometime soon.
The way I knew when something big had happened on Xnet was that I'd suddenly get a million emails from people who wanted M1k3y to know about the latest haps.
It was just as I was reading about Mr Can't-Spell-Jihad that my mailbox went crazy. Everyone had a message for me — a link to a livejournal on the Xnet — one of the many anonymous blogs that were based on the Freenet document publishing system that was also used by Chinese democracy advocates.
> Close call
> We were jamming at the Embarcadero tonite and goofing around giving everyone a new car key or door key or Fast Pass or FasTrak, tossing around a little fake gunpowder.