How many times have you heard the phrase "armed with this knowledge…?" Too damn many for it to be mere coincidence. How about "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?" Yup. Oh, wait, here's a good one: "Knowledge is your most potent weapon." Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but I'll bet wooden nickels to day-old donuts that they're familiar concepts.

With me so far?

Great. See, knowledge is a weapon. It's a potent one. It's a dangerous one. It can be completely unstoppable, or it can be subtly corrosive. It can't be killed as long as humans can talk, write, build, sculpt, plan, architect, or (for example, in the case of those amazing Druids) all of them at once. Oh, sure, we can lose the meaning of it for a time - but it's there, waiting.

Curiosity killed the cat. Presumably because the cat learned what it was curious about, which knowledge (or the acquisition thereof) killed it.

J. Robert Oppenheimer (I believe) once said that the biggest secret of the atomic bomb was that it could be made. Once that was public knowledge, there was no way to stop a determined group of men and women from building their own. He was quite right. Plus, twenty-mile high mushroom clouds act as a real good P.A. system.

I can hear you out there now: Custy, I'm hoping there's a friggin' point to all this, or I'm gonna fuX0r you up, man. Yeah, there's a point. It's one that they don't want you to grasp, because it's bitten the authorities on the ass time and time and time and time (you get the idea) again. Ready? Here it is.

Knowledge is power.

I know, you've heard it. But reflect on what that means, for a moment. Here we are, swimming in knowledge. Many of us are officially referred to as 'knowledge workers'. This whole site exists because of the power of an idea.

Add to this the fact that there are many, many things in the world with which to be cheesed off. If you're dannye, fifteen more than that. Injustices, inequalities, cruelty, ignorance, badly-made martinis, dangers, opportunities missed, disasters gained, those little multi-colored candy disks meant to go on ice cream that taste like last week's Liquid Paper with badly burnt sugar on it, people, places, things.

The system itself can suck.

What to do? Do what every other group with a grudge does. Gather together. Stash some arms. Drink some beer. Make some plans. In short, form a militia.

Know what? If you substitute some powerful-ass ideas for the stashing some arms bit, then guess what - we're more than 92% fat. We're 99 44/100ths pure, man. We're almost there. We are the foremost, and best one around.

We're the Knowledge Militia.

Pheer our 'leet rox0ring brainz, baby.

Serve notice to the world around you that you're mad as hell and you're not gonna take it anymore. You aren't going to use guns or swords (unless they do first) but you're gonna do worse- you're gonna use ideas. The most viral of weapons; as Neal Stephenson puts it, the final fourth of the quartet of our Apocalypse - NBCI weapons, or Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Informational. Actually, if you take our brains, we're all of those. Nuclear? Yeah. Without mutation and natural selection (driven by radiation amongst other things) we wouldn't exist, if you buy into the whole Darwin and evolutionary line of reasoning. We're definitely biological. Chemical? Yup, the human body consists of around $6.00 of chemicals as priced at your average lab supply store, once all that messy oxygen dihydride is removed.

And on the best of the lot - Informational. You damn skippy. Spread the word. Bring the noise. Jack the power.

Take your piece of the database, be it a piece you like, a piece you hate, a piece you think significant or a piece you think utterly pointless, and tuck it safely away. Put it somewhere in a cabinet with a false front. Save it for your children's B-mitzah Unmount the drive it lives on and leave it in the machine. Use strong cryptography. Do something. Because if you don't, they will be along soon, and they'll reach into your tortured self with hook-like claws and rip from you the gossamer web of your freedom and your thought, burying it like a Blue Meanie beneath a heap of pablum-ish news, reports on pointless things, innuendo, intimation, suggestions and more . You'll realize that no, you weren't dreaming and you're not paranoid - they really are coming to get you. Well, get up, man! Or woman! Get up get up get up! Grab your children and your weapons, and flee the house - let them have it, there's more where that came from.

Whenever I read about the Blue team, or the latest Bush gaffe, or the most recent missile defense test, I become unreasonably frightened. Maybe not unreasonably. But that's okay; I have in my pocket a loudmouth-ass opinion, with some facts and readings, and some references holstered at my side. Bring it on, motherfucker. Jack the pain. Bring the noise.

I'm smarter than you, my E2 compadres and I are better informed than you, and we're PISSED.

It has been over ten years since I read Fahrenheit 451, but I remember towards the end, when the few survivors of the cultural apocalypse sit around, trading a few verses of poetry with each other, because they have to hold on to every scrap of culture and literature they have. Even in a science fiction setting, even after hundreds of years of cultural oppression, I don't think information or stories will ever be that rare. I am a incorrigible walker, and I've seen dozens and scores and hundreds of books, tossed by the side of the road. True, some were soaked through and had slugs crawling around in their margins, but it is not like the knowledge isn't always going to be out there, hidden behind the butterscotch bushes down by the railroad tracks.

It is not that there is somehow a shortage of knowledge or information out there. Again, with our weapon analogy, when you have knowledge, but it isn't organized and discipline, you have a mob, not a militia, and certainly not an army. It is not a member of being part of a clique that knows secrets: it is being able to somehow execute a plan in regards to that. It is not about cooking up some shit in the basement, it is about making a recipe that everyone can follow.

To return to one of our most pressing examples of where knowledge seems to be lacking, we have seen almost five years of perhaps the most ignorant president in American history, with perhaps the only contender being his cousin. And the information, and knowledge of his mistakes, and the mistakes surrounding Iraq for the past twenty years, are hardly a secret to everyone. It is not like we don't have a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. But for some reason, these things aren't dealt with. To use another example (that ties into this same issue), Americans have had documentary proof, for 110 years now, that Turkey massacred Armenians. And for 110 years, various people have tried to get the United States government to publicly acknolwedge this, with no final result.

In Mencius, Book V, Chapter III, it is written: "Tyrants and Corrupt Officials always avoid settled boundaries". That is why Bush has failed and will continue to fail. For all his bluster about spreading democracy, he has not put his word that he will refuse to prop up undemocratic nations. Its not the knowledge, it is settling on it, and sticking to it, that it is the important thing. That is why it is also written in Mencius, Book IV, Chapter IX, that "the mistakes of the ancient rulers were like eclipses of the sun and moon, there for everyone to see", but that "these days, the the rulers just persevere to the bitter end, and just invent excuses". It is not just having knowledge, it is making that knowledge public, and something that people must acknowledge and act on, that is the vital thing.

As you all know, of course, fixing knowledge can be difficult: there are simple discrepancies in facts, and then there is the myriad readings of people's intentions, and plans, and meanings, and there is the neverending stream of new paradigms and cultural shifts to consider. That is why we shouldn't, even if we could, state that someone is just wrong and censor all their further actions and speech. But we also can't just let the cloud of knowledge randomly drift around, with no way to draw conclusions or executions from it.

We have, here, actually solved the problem to a great extent. We have a way to judge people's opinions, and their readings of the facts. But this doesn't stop further discussion, and except in the most trying of circumstances, people don't get censored for having unpopular opinions. Mistakes are made here, and corrected. What e2 lacks, of course, since it is a virtual community, is executive power. But if you look at the way facts, knowledge, opinions, and personalities are evaluated on e2, it is actually a good template for other communities.

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