A Majority of U.S Technology Professionals Would Accept Bitcoin as Payment Reports WSJ

There’s no telling exactly how accurate this survey is, and whether or not the participants are thinking in terms of part of their paychecks or the entire thing, but if the figures are anywhere near the reported 51%, it is a very positive signal.

People being paid in bitcoin represents a huge step in the process of the currency transitioning into something more akin to the role fiat money plays in everyday life. We may be much closer to this reality than many people think, particularly with the recent launch of the very innovative BitPay Payroll API, which makes it incredibly simple for employees to receive a portion of their wages in bitcoin.

From the Wall Street Journal:

A majority of U.S technology professionals would welcome being paid in bitcoin, according to a survey by event organizer Tech in Motion.

Out of 847 responses to a questionnaire sent to Tech in Motion’s 18,000 members, 51.12% answered “yes, absolutely,” to the question “Would you be interested in being paid for your work in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?” A further 18.06% ticked “Maybe, let’s see where Bitcoin is in a year or two,” with the remainder saying that they would prefer to be paid in traditional currency. Just 9.92% rejected the option because they “do not think Bitcoin will last,” and 1.18% said they didn’t know what bitcoin was.

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Schindler’s List Producer States: “I Never Feared My Government Until Now”

Earlier today, I wrote an article about the arrest of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem on charges of money laundering, and how it demonstrated that the rule of law is completely dead in America. All we have now is selective enforcement of the law, a situation in which a handful of oligarchs can steal with impunity, but politically unpopular or troublesome folks are pursued with tyrannical vigor.

However, Charlie’s case is not the only recent example of selective enforcement. Dinesh D’Souza is yet another. Despite what you may think of Mr. D’Souza (I watched his film and personally found it to be a very weak and superficial criticism of Obama), he is clearly being targeted in a political vendetta. This is obvious in the sense that banker thieves never, ever face prosecution for far greater crimes. Our descent further and further into Banana Republic status is accelerating.

From Newmax:

Gerald Molen, the producer of Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary film “2016: Obama’s America,” says he never feared his government before he learned that D’Souza is under federal investigation for election fraud. 

“I’m a little bit taken aback by the whole thing because he’s such a great American,” Molen said of D’Souza on Newmax TV’s “Steve Malzberg Show.” The conservative writer and commentator understands the process in America and how it works, Molen said.

Molen, who also produced the Academy-award winning “Schindler’s List,” said he has not spoken to D’Souza since he learned of the indictment, and wouldn’t make comments about the specific case until he’s learned all the facts.

Still, he said he would not be surprised if the probe is politically motivated. 

Asked by Malzberg if he ever felt threatened or had any feelings they should not have been making the film, Molen answered, “No. This is America. I’ve never had that feeling,” adding, “I’ve never had the occasion to think that I had to fear my government. I never had the thought that I had reason to think I had to look over my shoulder until now.”

But, he said, he wouldn’t be intimidated out of pursuing future projects.

“It certainly gives me reason to think about it, but no, I won’t back off,” he said. “I’ll keep on doing exactly what I’m doing.”

Video clip below:

Keep on fighting Mr. Molen.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Schindler’s List Producer States: “I Never Feared My Government Until Now” originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 27, 2014.

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Some Money Launderers are More Equal than Others Part 2 – CEO of BitInstant is Arrested

No man escapes when freedom fails, the best men rot in filthy jails. And those who cried, “appease appease” are hung by those they tried to please.

– Anon

Last May, I wrote an article titled: Some Money Launderers are “More Equal” than Others, which likened the U.S. government to the pigs that ruled the roost in George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm. In that article, I decided to compare the way the “authorities” used money laundering laws against Liberty Reserve, versus the way they tip-toed around massive money laundering for Mexican drug cartels that HSBC engaged in. Since I wrote that article, JP Morgan has been fined tens of billions of dollars for a cornucopia of criminal activities. Meanwhile, we have yet to see a single executive arrested or put behind bars. Why?

I think it is quite obvious. The United States’ “economy” has devolved into nothing more than a state-sanctioned criminal racket. A handful of oligarchs and the corporations they control, are immune from prosecution no matter what they do. They have a complete and total license to steal with impunity. Meanwhile, if a peasant is caught stealing 10 dollars or found with a dime bag of weed, it is jail for life. ‘Merica.

So now I turn your attention to the breaking news that Charlie Shrem, the impressive, young and very talented kid behind Bitcoin exchange BitInstant, has been arrested. I had a chance to meet Charlie in person last summer at the Inside Bitcoins conference in NYC (I will be once again attended their next conference April 7-8). In my wrap-up article on the conference I wrote:

The event kicked off with keynote speaker Charlie Shrem, founder and CEO of BitInstant. For those who aren’t familiar with it, BitInstant is one of the more convenient ways to acquire bitcoins for cash. Incredibly, he is a mere 23-years old and started the company while still enrolled at Brooklyn College. He shared his experience of pitching venture capital firm after venture capital firm, and his subsequent rejection by each and every one of them. He eventually convinced his mother to seed him the $10,000 needed to start the company.

Shortly after the speech, I was able to chat with Charlie in the hallway and he couldn’t have been nicer. He immediately pointed to my “Bought with Bitcoin” shirt and told me he wanted one. The shirt’s in the mail man.

In light of the above, it makes sense that the U.S. government wants him in jail. It has become quite clear that the “authorities” are intent of either putting all our greatest minds in jail, such as Barrett Brown, or driving them to suicide, as was the case with Aaron Swartz, or forcing them into exile, as is the case with whistleblower-hero Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, it is open season for oligarchs hunting peasants. USA! USA!

From Time:

Charles Shrem, who ran a New York-based Bitcoin exchange, was arrested Monday and charged with engaging in a money laundering scheme with a user of Silk Road, the notorious deep web black market.

In the federal criminal complaint, the Southern District of New York charges Shrem, the 24-year-old CEO of BitInstant, with three counts, including one count operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count willful failure to file suspicious activity report.  Robert Faiella, a Silk Road user who operated under the name “BTCKing,” was charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count money laundering conspiracy.

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Working Age Americans are the Majority of People on Food Stamps for the First Time

When people ask me to describe the state of the U.S. economy, what I always say is that it can best characterized as an ongoing state-sanctioned theft. This theft consists of the 0.01% oligarch class intentionally leveraging a corrupt monetary and political system in order to funnel all of the wealth of the non-oligarch rich and middle-class upward to them. The underclasses are kept quiet and in-line via food stamps and other forms of so-called “welfare.”

In reality, I have frequently maintained that food stamps are actually corporate welfare and that the stock market represents food stamps for the 1%. The entire economy is a gigantic bait and switch in which a handful of people rape and pillage everyone else.

With unemployment and GDP statistics hopelessly manipulated, we must look at other data points in order to gain an understanding of how things really stand. Data related to food stamp rolls is one way to gain real insight into the true state of the U.S. economy.

In an excellent article from the Associate Press, we learn several things.

  • For the first time ever, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps.
  • Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training.
  • By education, about 28 percent of food stamp households are headed by a person with at least some college training, up from 8 percent in 1980.

More from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps — a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients. 

Some of the change is due to demographics, such as the trend toward having fewer children. But a slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs also plays a big role. It suggests that government spending on the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program — twice what it cost five years ago — may not subside significantly anytime soon.

“High employment, stagnant wages.” Huh? Don’t these people realize we’ve been in a recovery for almost five years now!

Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training, a sign that the safety net has stretched further to cover America’s former middle class, according to an analysis of government data for The Associated Press by economists at the University of Kentucky. Formally called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, the program now covers 1 in 7 Americans.

Notice the statement, “America’s former middle class.” At least they are honest. The middle class is gone.

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Introducing “The Money Oscars” – Jon Stewart on Davos and Financial “Journalists”

Once again, Jon Stewart knocks it out of the park with his unique style of hilarious and cutting social commentary. This time he takes on the orgy of crony capitalists, vacuous celebrities and corrupt politicians that is the World Economic Forum in Davos, or as he calls it, “The Money Oscars.” This is the best Stewart clip I have seen since he recently took it to Chris Christie.

Enjoy.

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Introducing “The Money Oscars” – Jon Stewart on Davos and Financial “Journalists” originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 25, 2014.

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Why is a Gigantic War-Blimp About to Fly Above the Skies of Suburban Baltimore?

One of the most disturbing and relentless trends over the past several years has been the redirection of war technology and equipment from the battlefield abroad toward domestic use in the USA. This has resulted in a militarization of police across the nation and has encouraged small towns to use Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to purchase ridiculous items such as tanks.

Sadly, it appears this trend is only accelerating. With billions of dollars already spent, and failed wars abroad, the military-industrial complex needs to continue to generate cash flow. May as well just use it against the American people.

We find out from the Washington Post that:

They will look like two giant white blimps floating high above I-95 in Maryland, perhaps en route to a football game somewhere along the bustling Eastern Seaboard. But their mission will have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war.

The aerostats — that is the term for lighter-than-air craft that are tethered to the ground — are to be set aloft on Army-owned land about 45 miles northeast of Washington, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, for a three-year test slated to start in October. From a vantage of 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C., to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft so they could be intercepted before reaching the capital.

Interesting, I didn’t realize we were at war. When was the last time cruise missiles were shot into the United States?

Aerostats deployed by the military at U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan typically carried powerful surveillance cameras as well, to track the movements of suspected insurgents and even U.S. soldiers.

Defense contractor Raytheon last year touted an exercise in which it outfitted the aerostats planned for deployment in suburban Baltimore with one of the company’s most powerful high-altitude surveillance systems, capable of spotting individual people and vehicles from a distance of many miles.

The Army said it has “no current plans” to mount such cameras or infrared sensors on the aerostats or to share information with federal, state or local law enforcement, but it declined to rule out either possibility. The radar system that is planned for the aerostats will be capable of monitoring the movement of trains, boats and cars, the Army said.

“No Current plans.” What a bunch of assholes. You know they can’t wait to attach an ARGUS surveillance system to these puppies.

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The Ukrainian Government is Now Mass Texting Protestors with Warning Messages

Earlier today, I highlighted the ingenious use of mirrors by Ukrainian protestors to utilize non-violent, creative tactics to make powerful political statements. With violence escalating in the past 24 hours, it appears the Ukrainian government is now breaking out technological Big Brother by sending mass text messages to protestors warning them that they are being watched.

Remember: Your Government Loves You.

From CNET:

Your government wants to protect you. Because your government cares. Because your government works for you.

Except, that is, when you don’t like your government. That’s when your government works against you.

Take the Ukraine, which several people are trying to do just at the moment.

It’s decided to show what open government is really about. So it’s openly texting its citizens to tell them when they’ve been spotted protesting against the government.

As The New York Times reports, the powers-that-be are being powered by phone technology that identifies any cell phone that happens to be adjacent to where protesters are clashing with the uniformed officers of the state. (Protesting, you see, has suddenly been made illegal.)

Text messages are reportedly being sent that say: “We can see you!!!”

Yes, I have inserted quite some paraphrasing here. The texts actually say: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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The Ukrainian Government is Now Mass Texting Protestors with Warning Messages originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 22, 2014.

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A Chinese Rebellion – How Activists are Stamping QR Codes on Currency to Fight Censorship

One of the most productive trends I have witnessed in 2014 to-date, consists of the increasingly creative ways that activists around the world are fighting back against the status quo (Bitcoin stole the show in this regard last year). The first example of this emerged from within the Ukraine, where protestors are holding up mirrors in front of police forces in order to show them exactly what they have become and what they look like. Here are three powerful examples:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.16.36 AM Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.17.03 AM Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.17.17 AM

While I am not naive enough to think this simple act will change the world, it is a very good start and a tactic activists around the world should emulate. It is far more effective than running around in a violent orgy destroying property. The only thing that serves to do is encourage the police to meet violence with violence, and it also turns a large percentage of the populace against the activists. By reflecting their images back upon them through the use of mirrors, the police are forced to see how ridiculous they look in comparison to the poorly dressed, freezing cold serfs they have been paid to control by the ruling oligarchy.

Interestingly, Chinese activists have discovered their own form of non-violent, creative and effective resistance. They are stamping QR codes on the national currency with a message to ”scan and download software to break the Internet firewall.” Brilliant.

More from Boing Boing:

An anonymous anti-censorship group is stamping Chinese banknotes with a QR code and the message “Scan and download software to break the Internet firewall.” The stamps encode a URL for Freegate, a firewall-busting service. The stamps are widely suspected to be the work of Falun Gong, an outlawed religious sect that has a long history of supplying anti-censorship technology inside of mainland China, both to supply access to its own censored websites and to advertise the virtues of its belief-system to Chinese Internet users who are more interested in beating censorship than religion.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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A Chinese Rebellion – How Activists are Stamping QR Codes on Currency to Fight Censorship originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 22, 2014.

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Banks are Running Scared – Wells Fargo Bans Staff from P2P Loans

It’s extremely amusing to observe the welfare baby, bailout dependent, “Too Big to Jail,” parasitic legacy banking system squirm in the face of advancements in peer-to-peer financial technologies; whether they be Bitcoin, P2P lending or crowdfunding. It is becoming increasingly clear that humanity would do much better without this gigantic cancerous tumor on our backs, and we finally have the tools to move on. 

In fact, the largest bank in the U.S. is so concerned about peer-to-peer lending, it has banned its staff from participating.

We find out from CNBC that:

Wells Fargo has banned its employees from lending their own money through peer-to-peer loan platforms, in a sign of growing tensions between new “P2P” lenders and the largest U.S. bank by market value.

“Ethics administrators” at Wells Fargo decided to forbid staff from P2P lending after concluding “that for-profit peer-to-peer lending is a competitive activity that poses a conflict of interest.”

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Brave New World Revisited…Key Excerpts and My Summary

Under the relentless thrust of accelerating over-population and increasing over-organization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old formselections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the restwill remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorialbut Democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit. 

– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, published 1958

It’s always felt a bit bizarre and, indeed slightly embarrassing, that of all the books I have read in my days, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 classic Brave New World was not amongst them. Not only is the book frequently mentioned to make political and social statements about contemporary times, the novel’s concept always caught my interest. I just never got around reading it. Until late last year.

I loved this book and was very pleasantly surprised. I was prepared for a more fearful and overwhelmingly dark and twisted experience. While there were obvious elements of those things, it was a much more enjoyable read than I anticipated. Indeed, it was a very human book, as ironic as that might sound. As much as the “Controllers” in Brave New World were indeed in control, the human spirit still managed to bubble to the surface. To the point that the controllers had to designate certain islands for the iconoclasts which inevitably emerged from within the “Alpha” class. All of the drugs, brainwashing and conditioning couldn’t totally break the human spirit. As such, it was a much more hopeful and nuanced novel than I expected it to be. If you haven’t read it, I suggest making it your next book. If you have read it, read it again.

However, this post isn’t about Brave New World. While that book is indeed a creative warning, it is still fiction and a work of art more than anything else. Twenty six years after its publication, Huxley wrote Brave New World Revisited, in which he takes stock of the post World War II period. His analysis is grave. He saw the world progressing toward his nightmare much faster than he anticipated. Brave New World Revisited is a brilliant work of non-fiction and filled with almost incomprehensibly prescient predictions. It also provides a great deal of advice to future generations. Advice which we must immediately heed.

Of all the solutions Huxley focuses on in Brave New World Revisited, from proper education, to a simple acknowledgment of humanity as moderately gregarious animal not prone to over-organization; the most profound, and I think useful recommendation, is for us to decentralize. This has been a theme of mine and many other writers for some time now. Fortunately, through things like 3D-Printing, Bitcoin and other decentralized crypto-currencies, open source software, crowd funding, social media, etc, the world is moving from centralization to radical decentralization. People will be more connected than ever, but power will be more decentralized. We need to continue to push rapidly in this direction and a whole new incredible world will emerge. Indeed, it is being born as I write this.

Several years ago after reading Hayek’s Road to Serfdom I wrote a lengthy post highlighting key excerpts for those who were interested, but didn’t have the time or inclination to read the whole thing. Due to that post’s popularity and effectiveness, I have attempted to do the same with Brave New World Revisited. I hope this inspires you all to read the entire thing. Enjoy.

From Chapter 2: Quantity, Quality, Morality

And now let us consider the case of the rich, industrialized and democratic society, in which, owing to the random but effective practice of dysgenics, IQ’s and physical vigor are on the decline. For how long can such a society maintain its traditions of individual liberty and democratic government? Fifty or a hundred years from now our children will learn the answer to this question.

My Thoughts: Yes, indeed we are learning the answer to this right now. Just look around you.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

Under a dictatorship the Big Business, made possible by advancing technology and the consequent ruin of Little Business, is controlled by the State-that is to say, by a small group of party leaders and the soldiers, policemen and civil servants who carry out their orders. In a capitalist democracy such as the United States, it is controlled by what Professor C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite. This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country’s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to but its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communications, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody.

My Thoughts: If you talk as Huxley writes above in “polite society” you will be labeled a conspiracy theorist or kook.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

It is in the social sphere, in the realm of politics and economics, that the Will to Order becomes really dangerous. Here the theoretical reduction of unmanageable multiplicity to comprehensible unity becomes the practical reduction of human diversity to subhuman uniformity, of freedom to servitude. In politics the equivalent of a fully developed scientific theory or philosophical system is a totalitarian dictatorship. In economics, the equivalent of a beautifully composed work of art is the smoothly running factory in which the workers are perfectly adjusted to the machines. The Will to Order can make tyrants out of those who merely aspire to clear up a mess. The beauty of tidiness is used as a justification for despotism.

Organization is indispensable; for liberty arises and has meaning only within a self-regulating community of freely cooperating individuals. But, though indispensable, organization can also be fatal. Too much organization transforms men and women into automata, suffocates the creative spirit and abolishes the very possibility of freedom. As usual, the only safe course is in the middle, between the extremes of laissez-faire at the one end of the scale and of total control at the other.

My Thoughts: Huxley accurately notes that the “will to order” is a natural part of the human psyche. There are disciplines where the “will to order” is actually useful and necessary to human progress; however, he warns that in the social sphere it is deadly and usually ends with totalitarianism.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

City life is anonymous and, as it were, abstract. People are related to one another, not as total personalities, but as the embodiment of economic functions or, when they are not at work, as irresponsible seekers of entertainment. Subjected to this kind of life, individuals tend to feel lonely and insignificant. Their existence ceases to have any point or meaning.

My Thoughts: Huxley clearly sees the sprawling metropolis as incongruent with human nature and freedom. It is a theme he consistently returns to throughout the book.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

Biologically speaking, man is a moderately gregarious, not a completely social animal—a creature more like a wolf, let us say, or an elephant, than like a bee or an ant. In their original form human societies bore no resemblance to the hive or the ant heap; they were merely packs. Civilization is, among other things, the process by which primitive packs are transformed into an analogue, crude and mechanical, of the social insects’ organic communities. At the present time the pressures of over-population and technological change are accelerating this process. The termitary has come to seem a realizable and even, in some eyes, a desirable ideal. Needless to say, the ideal will never in fact be realized. A great gulf separates the social insect from the not too gregarious, big-brained mammal; and even though the mammal should do his best to imitate the insect, the gulf would remain. However hard they try, men cannot create a social organism, they can only create an organization. In the process of trying to create an organism they will merely create a totalitarian despotism.

My Thoughts: A simply brilliant and incredibly important warning.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

The impersonal forces of overpopulation and over-oragnization, and the social engineers who are trying to direct these forces, are pushing us in the direction of a new medieval system. This revival will be made more acceptable than the original by such Brave-New—Worldian amenities as infant conditioning, sleep-teachings and drug-induced euphoria; but, for the majority of men and women, it will still be a kind of servitude.

My Thoughts: Yep, he predicted our current neo-feudalistic state in 1958.

From Chapter 4: Propaganda in a Democratic Society

Given a fair chance, human beings can govern themselves, and govern themselves better, though perhaps with less mechanical efficiency, than they can be governed by “authorities independent of their will.” Given a fair chance, I repeat; for the fair chance is an indispensable prerequisite. No people that passes abruptly from a state of subservience under the rule of a despot to the completely unfamiliar state of political independence can be said to have a fair chance of making democratic institutions work.

My Thoughts: Would’ve been nice if we thought about that before we invaded Iraq (of course, the problem is our goal was never to bring Democracy to Iraq in the first place).

From Chapter 4: Propaganda in a Democratic Society

In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democraciesthe development of a vast mass communications industry concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.

For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of entertainmentfrom poetical dramas to gladiatorial fights, from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from concepts to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distractions now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio television and the cinema.

My Thoughts: This brings me to a short story I’d like to share. I was on the plane as I was reading this and I put down my book for a second to look around me. I had an aisle seat, and so was at a good vantage point from which to take stock of the plane. I was actually stunned to notice that there was not a single other person reading a book anywhere around me. I actually enjoy the lack of Wifi on flights as it forces me to engage in some old school book reading. To my surprise no one else seemed to see it that way. Horrifyingly, the only people that weren’t dozing off or watching television were still on their smart phones. Even worse, at least five of them seemed to be playing the same game! It looked like some sort of Tetris game with jewels. So despite the lack of Wifi, humanity’s ability for mindless entertainment and distraction prevailed. Wifi or no wifi, these folks were going to be on their “smart”phones one way or the other.

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