Thursday, 31 October 2013

Skoora, the gentle state

In the classic Kids in the Hall sketch, a traveler, Kevin, walks into a seaside inn and sees a room filled with horribly mutilated people. Each and every one of them has been bitten, gouged or chomped by Skoora, the Gentle Shark. They all tell Kevin how they were attacked.
Dave [Innkeeper]: No, Captain. Your Skoora story.

Mark [The sea captain]: Oh . . . I used to be the captain of my own cruise ship. It was the kind of boat folks rent for weddings, parties, you know, that kind of thing. But on the night in question it had been rented for a prom. Oh, the girls looked so lovely in their dresses, the boys such fine little gentlemen in their tuxedos. They were all drinking and dancing and spiking the punch. I was dizzy with delight when suddenly - my ship sank. We all went into the water. Then came Skoora, picking us off one by one by one by one. Till only I was left. And as he bore down on me, he paused as if to say, "What can I do? I'm a shark. I eat." And then he cut me in half, cut me right in half - my wife measured me, I'm exactly half my former length. But as he swam away with my lower extremeties dangling from his jaw, I swear to god he was crying.

Kevin: Crying?

Mark: Yes, crying. Oh to be sure, he's a brutal killing machine. But he shows more remorse than I've ever seen in a human.
When Kevin suggests that maybe, just maybe, they should have thought about killing the shark, they're aghast. AGHAST. Why? Because Skoora didn't want to eat them. It's just in his nature. He's a gentle shark:
Kevin: That's incredible. Tell me, have you people ever thought of hiring someone to kill the shark? A shark killer?

[Everyone becomes hostile immediately]

Dave: Have you missed the point, man?!

Mark: Have you missed the point?

Bruce: He can't help it, it's his nature.

Scott: He's a *shark*.

Dave: Yes, would you kill the birds for singing? Would you poison the fish for swimming? Would you shoot the children for laughing?

Everyone: [ad lib] Would you kill the children?

Kevin: No! I guess not. I wasn't thinking.

Everyone: [ad lib] You just weren't thinking!

Dave: Well, I'll show you to your room, then. [A fin appears from behind the front desk] Skoora! [Dave is sucked down. Water and blood fly up and hit the ceiling. Kevin runs over to the desk]

Kevin: My god, my god! Skoora is eating the innkeeper!

Mark: How is Skoora taking it?

Kevin: Not very well.

[Everyone bemoans this news]

Mark: [singing] Skoora, Skoora . . .[yells "SING!" to the inn while handing a lyric sheet to Kevin. Skoora swims in time to the song behind the desk while everyone joins in]

Everyone: . . .Skoora, the gentle shark.
Skoora, Skoora. He's a killer with a broken heart.
Don't blame him! He blames himself.
Don't hate him! He hates himself.
Skoora, Skoora. Skoora the gentle shark.
And so we come to the chorus reminding us that we shouldn't blame the NSA for its spying. It's in its nature. It's what spy agencies do. It's what States do. We should neither be surprised at the ongoing revelations nor blame either the spy agencies or the States that enable them. Would you kill the children for laughing?

Skoora, the Gentle State. The NSA and GSCB don't want to spy on us. Indeed, their agents weep when they have to. Besides, it's for Angela Merkel's own good that they bugged her phone. Why would you think they'd want to do that? Really, we should feel bad for all the spies. Think about how they feel, with everybody hating on them for just doing their jobs.

Me, I'm with Kevin. Some sharks should be killed. And States hardly have to do this. It's in spy agencies' natures to have a go at it, but it's in a government's nature to want to be re-elected. If enough people get angry enough about it, political markets will eventually deliver a government that will constrain its spy agencies. If 2014 gives us a Labour/Green government that gives the Greens civil liberties, police and surveillance rather than budget, I'd be pretty happy with that outcome. If they get Finance and electricity, it'd be terrible. Even better were National / ACT to start worrying about Skoora.

For the Skoora-supporters who read the blog, what further NSA revelation would be enough to have you think that maybe it would be worth reconsidering the Five-Eyes arrangement? The latest ones had NSA re-routing a pile of traffic from Google and Yahoo abroad to facilitate "legal" surveillance on it before routing it back to Google and Yahoo Tech fix: they tapped the intra-Google (intra-Yahoo) connections running between internationally distributed datacentres. NSA denies it, but they have lied to Congress repeatedly and their denials have zero information content; meanwhile, every Snowdon/Greenwald revelation has turned out to be true. If GCSB were helping them out with the re-route-and-process, would that be the line? Is there a line? Draw your line now, before more revelations come out that you might want to ex-post rationalise.

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