Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective

Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective, it is extraordinarily costly. … It breaks our technical systems, as the very protocols of the Internet become untrusted…. It’s not just domestic abuse we have to worry about; it’s the rest of the world, too. The more we choose to eavesdrop on the Internet and other communications technologies, the less we are secure from eavesdropping by others. Our choice isn’t between a digital world where the NSA can eavesdrop and one where the NSA is prevented from eavesdropping; it’s between a digital world that is vulnerable to all attackers, and one that is secure for all users.

—Security expert, Bruce Schneier, writing in the Atlantic in January 2014, taken from No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald.

known only in a series of subordinate clauses

He, too, must speak the Word everlasting. And over this resolve presides a woman who is nameless, faceless, known only in a series of subordinate clauses, ‘Who… / Who… ’, who walks with ‘the new years’, who restores his power to write ‘new verse’, and who bends her head in silent acceptance and gives the all-important sign that the Lord’s Word would come.

—from The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot  by Lyndall Gordon (p 235).

There would be no place to hide. Notice the date.

The United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through air… That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

—Senator Frank Church, Chair, Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, 1975.

Epigraph to No Place to Hide, Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S., by Glenn Greenwald.

It acts as a Conduit for what we call Sha

“Terrible Feng Shui here. Worst I ever saw. You two crazy?”

“Because of…?” Dixon indicating behind them, in thickening dusk, the Visto sweeping away.

“It acts as a Conduit for what we call Sha, or, as they say in Spanish California, Bad Energy.— Imagine a Wind, a truly ill wind, bringing failure, poverty, disgrace, betrayal,— every kind of bad luck there is,— all blowing through, night and day, with many times the force of the worst storm you were ever in.”

“No one intends to live directly upon the Visto,” Mason speaking as to a Child. “The object being, that the people shall set their homes to one side or another. That it be a Boundary, nothing more.”

“Boundry!” The Chinaman begins to pull upon his hair and paw the earth with brocade-slipper’d feet. “Ev’rywhere else on earth, Boundaries follow Nature,— coast-lines, ridge-tops, river-banks,— so honoring the Dragon or Shan within, from which Land-Scape ever takes its form. To mark a right Line upon the Earth is to inflict upon the Dragon’s very Flesh, a sword-slash, a long, perfect scar, impossible for any who live out here the year ‘round to see as other than hateful Assault. How can it pass unanswer’d?”

Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon (p542).

at present, owing to the pernicious Cult of Feng Shui,

“Mr. Dixon,” declares the Jesuit, “at present, owing to the pernicious Cult of Feng Shui, you would find it a Surveyor’s Bad Dream, — nowhere may a Geometer encounter an honest 360-Degree Circle,— rather, incomprehensibly and perversely, in wilful denial of God’s Disposition of Time and Space, preferring 365 and a Quarter.”

“That being the number of Days in a year, what Human Surveyor, down here upon Earth, would reject thah’,— each Day a single, perfect Chinese Degree,— were 360 not vastly more convenient, of course, to figure with? Surely God, being Omniscient, has little trouble with either…? all the Log Tables right there in His Nob, doesn’t he,—” Dixon, having been out tramping over the Fields and Fells for the past few weeks, with Table and Circumferentor, still enjoying a certain orthogonal Momentum, “and 365 and a quarter seems the sort of Division Jesuits might embrace,— the discomfort of all that extra calculation…? sort of mental Cilice, perhaps…?”

“Oh dear,” Emerson’s voice echoing within his Ale-can.

Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon (p230).

Aye, they go on living, but without dear old Grandam

“This is about Family, sure as the History of England. Inside any one Tribe of Indians, they’re all related, see? Kill you one Delaware, you affront the Family at large. Out there, if it’s Blood of mine, of course I must go out and seek redress,— tho’ I’ll have far less company.”

“Each alone lacking the Numbers, our sole Recourse is to band together.”

“These were said to be harmless, helpless people,” Dixon points out in some miraculous way that does not draw challenge or insult in return. Apprehensive among these Folk, Mason, who would have perhaps us’d one Adjective fewer, regards his Georgie Partner with a strange Gaze, bordering upon Respect.

“They were blood relations of men who slew blood relations of ours.” Jabez explains.

“Then if You know who did it, for the Lord’s sake why did You not go after them?”

“This hurt them more,” smiles a certain Oily Leon, fingering his Frizzen and Flint.

“Aye, they go on living, but without dear old Grandam,— puts a big Hole in the Blanket, don’t it?”

“You must hate them exceedingly,” Mason pretending to a philosophikal interest actually far more faint than his interest in getting out of here alive.

“No,” looking about as if puzzl’d, “not any more. That debt is paid. I’ll live in peace with them,— happy to.”

Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon (pp 343-44).

it is known as the Sterloop

When they see what is upon the Tavern Sign, Mason and Dixon exchange a look,— the Weapon depicted, Black upon White, is notable for the Device upon its Stock, a Silver Star of five Points, revers’d so that two point up and one down,— a sure sign of evil at work, universally recogniz’d as the Horns of the D——l. No-one would adorn a Firearm with it, who was not wittingly in the service of that Prince. This is not the first Time the Surveyors have seen it,— at the Cape, usually right-side-up, it is known as the Sterloop,— a sort of good-luck charm, out in the Bush. But ev’ry now and then, mostly on days of treacherous Wind or Ill-Spirits, one or both had spied upon a Rifle an inverted Star, much like what they observe now, against the Sky, plumb in the windless Forenoon.

Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon (p342).

Catfish is packing a Lancaster Rifle

Mason sees it first,— then tipp’d by his frozen silence, Dixon. Catfish is packing a Lancaster Rifle, slung in Scabbard upon his Saddle, with an inverted Pentacle upon the Stock, unmistakable in the Moon-Light. Mason looks over, on the possibility that Dixon has a Plan, and sees Dixon already looking back at him, upon the same deluded Hope.

“Acutally,” says Dixon, “we only just arriv’d, so it isn’t as if we’ve ‘seen’ the River, if that poses any sort of problem,—”

“— and it certainly isn’t as if we’re planning to settle here,—”

Catfish with one huge hand slides the Rifle out and holds it up before him, noticing the  Sterloop as if for the first time. He smiles without mirth at the Surveyors. “You think this is my Rifle? No! I took this Rifle! From a White Man I have wish’d to meet for a long time. He was a very bad man. Even White People hated him. Beautiful piece, isn’t it?”

“The Sign on it has evil Powers,” Mason warns. “You should take a Knife or something, and pry it out.”

“What happened to it’s owner?” Dixon with a look of unsuccessfully feign’d innocence.

The Delaware is delighted to share that information with them, pulling from a Bag he carries a long Lock of fair European Hair so freshly taken, ‘tis yet darkly a-drip, at one end, with Blood. “This very day, Milords. Had you been earlier, you might have met.”

Either Mason or Dixon might reply, “We’ve met,”— yet neither does. “It didn’t feel complete to me,” Mason admits later, “I expected he yet liv’d, screaming about the Woods, driven to revenge at any price, a Monomaniack with a Hole in the Top of his Head,—”

“— looking for that Rifle back,” adds Dixon.

Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon (pp 680-81).

Nicholas tells the story of the Giant Hemp-Plant

“Big,” the Indian replies directly, smiling and nodding. Mason notices that ev’ryone is nodding.

“Hemp-Plant,” Dixon reminds Nicholas.

Many people, he explains, even from far away, make the Journey and Ascent. In earlier times, they climb’d to a Limb wide enough not to roll off of, and camp’d there overnight. But ’twas a fix’d season, and a growing Demand,— soon the great Limbs grew crowded. Some Travelers were not careful with their campfires, starting larger fires soon put out, tho’ not before producing lots of Smoak. Big Smoak. Depending upon the Winds, often climbers were delay’d for days.

The first long-house began to appear upon the sturdier Branches, each season’s Pilgrims sleeping in them overnight, then travelling on upward, others remaining to wait for them, smoking meanwhile Resin broken from some Bud nearby, and wrapp’d in a piece of Leaf, the whole being twisted into a giant Cigar. Soon sheds were added to Lim-side Inns, serving as Depots for the Jobbers who buy direct from the Bud. Bands of Renegadoes arrive to attack and rob the Enterprizers, who accordingly must band together in arm’d Convoy. Yet desparate men will assault even these vertical Caravans. ’Tis a lively time out there upon the Stalks.

Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon

Believe I’ll have another of those… ? Would tha join me?

“— aye then here they come! How canny, with these greeaht Foahm Tops on ‘em, what do tha call thah’?”

“That is a ‘Head,’” Blackie quizzickal. “They don’t have that, back wherever you’re from? What kind o’ Ale-Drinker are you then, Sir?”

“Shall we quarrel, after all?”

“Innocent question,” Blackie looking about for support.

“Very well, as tha did ask,— I’m a faithful and traditional Ale-Drinker, Sir, who does thee a courtesy in even swallowing this pale, hopp’d-up, water’d-down imitation of Small Beer.”

“Far preferable,” replies Blackie, “— even if slanderously and vilely untrue,— to that black, sluggish, treacly substitute for Naval Tar, Sir, no offense meant, that they swill down over in England?” with a look that would have been meaningful, could it get much beyond a common Glower.

Dixon sighs, Ale Loyalty is important to him, as part of a pact with the Youth he wish’d to remain connected to. He lifts and drinks, as calmly as possible, the entire Pint of American Ale, without pausing for any Breath. Having then taken one at last, “O Error!” he cries, “How could I’ve so misjudg’d this?”

Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon