"He hoped the owner would forgive him for what he was about to do with his prized possession, but he doubted it."
Typical collectivist, stealing whatever war materials he wants from the war's victims. The bands of knights support their campaigns against other bands of knights by stealing from the peasants. The Camelot military industrial complex never achieves its stated goal of peace, because then the pork would stop. Why don't you write a chapter where a bandit leader gets killed by his victim's illegal and effective private security during his attempted tax collection? That would be consistent with liberty.
Anonymous -- September 20, 2010 10:47 PM
The polite anarchist would, presumably, go ask the owner who is otherwise unknown to him and might be a regime supporter -- after all, Steven Spielberg is a collector of World War II armor -- if he would lend the vehicle in an enterprise that, given the environment, the government forces might kill him for if they found out? War presents awful moral choices by its very nature. I toyed with inserting a line or two about leaving the owner a scrip promising payment after the Restoration, but the author of the criticism above would have found that equally hypocritical. I would welcome a discussion by readers of how one carries out a successful war of resistance against a totalitarian leviathan without soiling one's hands in regard to property. Taking life of course calls for a different and much higher standard, and rightfully so. But here the criticism is in regard to property. How does one fight the larger evil without committing smaller evils? The CO expresses remorse for stealing the vehicle, differentiating himself from the collectivists who take property as part of their world view entitlement. But is that enough?
Another question: The entire mission is an exercise in the destruction of government property which has been taken by that government from its people. Presumably, the regime will extort the value of its replacement from those same people. Does the anonymous critic find that to be morally repugnant on the part of the resister as well?
I repeat, how do you fight such a war without infringing, at least in some way, upon the critic's pristine property principles?
Then there is this from Dedicated Dad:
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the time is long past when destroying a single installation would serve to eliminate databases such as this...
First: At a minimum, all data is backed up to some removable media - more and more often of late this means hard-disks. Backups are taken offsite at a minimum, in many cases to hardened, secure facilities designed to withstand a nuke-strike.
And that's just for "everyday" business-data.
Something like MIOC *PROBABLY* has a huge storage-array -- think hundreds of disk-drives in a huge "farm" -- which has a twin somewhere far removed from "home base."
The hardware involved is usually designed to "mirror" the entire farm -- the change of a single bit of data results in said bit also being changed on the mirror farm.
Sometimes there's a lag - a few milliseconds to a full second or two - between the updates, usually depending on the bandwidth allocated to the mirroring operation, but that's about it.
Usually, there's a contingency plan in place - businesses may allow a few hours (in the event of total destruction of the main data center) to be back in play with all critical functions online.
One can bet that anything labeled "national security" already has a full-on, 100% functional(though perhaps virtual) set of servers sitting idle, ready to resume immediately in the event of failure or destruction of the main data-center.
Bottom line: Makes for good fiction, proving the Resistance could pull off such a feat might even make for some pretty amazing psychological warfare, but otherwise the net result of a mission like this against a NS-related target would be to inconvenience a bunch of geeks, and perhaps cause some hiccups for a few days while the undiscovered bugs were worked out of the stand-by systems.
Even total destruction of all systems would only hamper operations for as long as it took to restore their backups.
This is why so many nations are developing cyber-warfare strategies and capabilities -- something your fictional folk might want to think about as well....
G*D -- now I just seriously depressed MYSELF...
DD, you are pretty much correct technically and I knew that going in (I take my research seriously). So why did I write it the way I did?
First, recall that the entire point of writing Absolved is as a "useful dire warning," as David Brin puts it. Pat Frank wrote Alas, Babylon, for example, in the hope that if people understood how devastating a nuclear war with the Soviets would be that they would do their damnedest to prepare for one and hopefully by that preparedness avoid one.
But any story of "useful dire warning" has three audiences and a different message for each. For those who agree with the author and see the danger, it should spur their preparations for the perceived coming calamity. For those who were unaware of what was going on around them, the story should wake them up to the danger and begin preparations. And, perhaps more importantly, it should raise in the minds of the people who intentionally or unintentionally are driving the real-world conflict described in the story to the brink (whatever that is) the caution that such conduct may have personal consequences.
Pat Frank was no unilateral disarmament advocate when he wrote Alas, Babylon. Somewhere around this impending avalanche of a mess that is my office, I have an interview with Pat Frank right after his book came out that I found in an old yellowed newspaper. Asked who he wanted to read his book, he replied (And I'm probably paraphrasing here because I can't find the article and haven't read it in ages.): "The Russians. I want them to understand that no matter how weak the United States may seem or how indecisive some of our leaders act sometimes, that we still win our wars."
Now, with that in mind, go back and re-read the chapter Wolverines from the perspective of a mid-level bureaucrat in a fusion center. You may find it utterly fantastic, because it challenges everything you think you understand about yourself. You don't see yourself as a secret political policeman, even though you will admit that you and your agency do represent federalization of local and state law enforcement and thus puts them in the chain of responsibility for present or future federal tyranny. After reading it, you will still reject the notion that you are a traitor to the Founders' Republic, but you will be put on notice that others think you are. Others who are at least willing to discuss in a fictional setting the deliberate killing of people just like you. Remember Hannah Arendt's comment on Eichmann about "The banality of evil." Most Gestapomen were ordinary folks who kissed their wives and children goodbye in morning after breakfast, patted their dogs on the head and went forth to a JOB that they believed needed doing, like a municipal garbageman. They thought of themselves as patriotic Germans. They did not look in the moral mirror. And, like today's "anti-terrorism" cop, he thought he was on the right side of history, and, more importantly, the WINNING side of history.
What then of today's state and local cops who participate in the fusion centers? Merely introducing the idea between their ears that what they do is viewed as treason to the oath they took by others who will make it their business to reverse -- perhaps with personal consequences -- is a "goodness thing."
Count on this: Most of these folks who work in fusion centers are highly intelligent. They are also, the best of them, very curious. They wouldn't be intelligence analysts if they weren't. Now, one of the things that their federal bosses are convinced of is the "right wing terrorist." Apart from racial collectivists which they wrongfully (per the SPLC's "Narrative of 1995" which Prof. Churchill has indentified) lump in with constitutional militiafolk, they are, as we know our own hearts, absolutely wrong. We view ourselves rightly as the bulwark of ordered liberty, not a threat to it.
Ah, but here in this chapter of fiction is "proof" of their bosses' prejudices. Not seeing themselves as doing wrong in any way -- not even in some fictional showdown between federal tyranny and people who insist upon being left alone -- they will seize upon this chapter and distribute it to their fellows and subordinates. "Did you read this Vanderboegh thing about destroying fusion centers and killing cops?" they will ask. Missing the underlying point, they will still be circulating the message -- an inherently subversive message to their purpose -- to ANY and ALL fusion center employees, not just in Michigan where I'm SURE it is already fodder for water cooler chat, but EVERYWHERE.
Thus is the third audience of the "useful dire warning" recruited. Like a squeamish traffic expert bystander to a deadly car crash, they will not be able to look away from the fictional gore without first analyzing the facts presented, simply because they will perceive that it is one of them in the car. Merely getting a few of them thinking along these lines, if those few are well-enough placed, could help avoid the accident -- in this case, the accidental civil war.
Now, as Dedicated has pointed out, utterly destroying the physicality of a single fusion center, or group of fusion centers, will not likely destroy all the data.
But, in the first place, the data system is neither as "seamless" nor as "collaborative" as it seems -- something that the fusion center employees know themselves and something that the bosses and academic Heideggers ceaselessly complain about in public hearings and on the Internet. They demand more resources and more top-down "collaboration" to address the nagging inefficiencies at the Department of Pre-Crime.
Secondly (in our fictional future universe), the destruction of ANY fusion center, even if no data was lost to the federal domestic spies, would be a blow the entire system. Think. These centers represent hundreds of millions of investment in electronic and other infrastructure. The destruction of one, even only by EMP, would necessitate its replacement. And destruction by EMP, in a world of increasingly restricted government income streams and "meddlesome" politicians, would perhaps be even worse than by C-4. What do you do when you want to deny a bridge to an advancing enemy? You only blow it PARTWAY up. Enough so the enemy cannot use the damaged remains, but not so much that you help his reconstruction efforts by utterly destroying it. You leave enough useless wreckage that he has to waste time and effort and resources clearing it before starting the rebuilding.
A building left standing, but electronically gutted, would be an imposing piece of such wreckage. There is also the matter of will. Without the initial shock of 11 September 2001, they would never have received the acquiescence of the public to build such an Orwellian future. How then will they replace it when the taxpayers are tired, jaded and bled white?
In addition, there is the far greater psychological wreckage in the fictional fusion center employees' heads. Like the Doolittle raid was "a pinprick to the heart," an EMP attack (using a new technology demonstrating a hitherto unused Fourth Generation warfare capability on the part of the Restoration forces) on a fusion center would demonstrate to every regime employee that the enemy they fight is not as stupid or unsophisticated as they had imagined. If an enemy is audacious, brave and technically brilliant, he just may be smart enough to beat you. That thought, set loose among bright minds that have been intellectually surprised and emotionally shaken yet remain curious, is ultimately subversive to the purpose of their less intelligent, thuggish bosses who use their work product to target tyranny.
Finally, there are the limitations of posting a single chapter. In my head (and on paper) but necessarily unknown to the reader, the attack on the MIOC was mere cover for the larger plan to take down the tyrannical infrastructure on the part of my new Polish-American freedom fighter character, John Piasecki. (And yes, boys and girls, the name is no accident. Think about what a helicopter DOES.) All I can say is don't catch a cold while you are trying to work it out.
I hope this helps explain some of my seeming lapses.