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freedom

ZAGATA: ‘Big Brother’ May Be As Close As Your Next New Automobile

Column by Mike Zagata, May 25, 2018

‘Big Brother’

May Be As Close
As Your Next New Automobile

Mike Zagata

If you haven’t read George Orwell’s book “1984”, now would be a good time to read it. In the book, Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party (Big Brother) scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful eyes.
Winston chooses to defy a ban on individuality by daring to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia – both are punishable by death.
I remember reading it and thinking, “This could never happen in America.”

I was wrong. It is happening each and every day, and it’s not just “Big Brother” that is keeping track of everything we do and attempting to establish new mores about what is socially right and wrong.
The “Left”, joined by a liberal media, is also changing the rules and holding those who don’t agree with them accountable. I recall when, in the 1960s, Berkley was a bastion of free speech. Today the liberal campus is torn by riots in protest of a conservative speaker. What happened?
Whether or not you like our current President, I’m hoping you’re shocked by the behavior of the FBI with regards to its pursuit of justice. We don’t spy on our own citizens without just cause – we just don’t do that. Or do we?
And if we do, does a majority of the American public support it? I hope the answer is a resounding “No”, because, if it isn’t, any one of us could become tomorrow’s “target”.

Technology, as suggested by Orwell, has made it ever easier to keep track of everything we do. Our cell phones are used to track our habits and patterns and the information collected without our being aware of it is sold to those seeking to exploit us.
I received an unsolicited report via e-mail from my new vehicle telling me that during the course of the past month I had come to an abrupt stop 16 times. It went on to report that my driving habits were better (whose definition?) than 85 percent of other monitored drivers. If that is true, I hope I don’t meet one of them on the highway!
You may not be aware of it, but a new partnership among Cornell, Syracuse and DEC will allow them to monitor, without your being aware of it, how you are stewarding your land. If you are not managing it for “sustainability” (not sure whose definition is being used) you could be subjected to some form of punishment; for example, not be allowed to sell your timber into the marketplace.

I wrote this because the changes that are occurring are subtle and thus often go un-noticed when taken one at a time. However, when taken in their totality, they are having an enormous impact on our lives.
Consider the camera on Chestnut Street just East of “Nick’s Diner” that monitors your speed. The day will come, as it has in many cities, when it will initiate the process of issuing you a speeding ticket and cameras don’t care if you’re a townie or from out of town.
Is it time to think about how good we had it in days past? Is there a way to return to them? There was a time when we had five police officers in Oneonta and the SUNY campus had a custodian with a broom for security.

Mike Zagata, a former DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, JULY 8
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, JULY 8

See The Art Of Dance

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DANCE DEMONSTRATION – 10 a.m. Informative demonstration in the art of dance presented by Jillian’s Dance Arts. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. foothillspac.org

ART RECEPTION – 5-7 p.m. “Migration-Immigration: A Creative Depiction” opens depicting the arduous and dangerous path that has led many immigrant to the US throughout our history. Features the work of local artists working in water color, acrylics, oils, pen, ink, sculptures, and more. Cherry Branch Gallery, 25 Main St., Cherry Valley. cherrybranchgallery.com

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, JULY 2
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, JULY 2

Concert & Fireworks

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CONCERT – 5 p.m. Come enjoy food and refreshments by the Cooperstown Rotary club. The concert by the Cooperstown Community Band starts at 8 p.m. and is followed by the Independence Day fireworks at Dusk. Lakefront Park, Cooperstown.

FIREWORKS – 6 p.m. View the Fourth of July Fireworks, enjoy free ice cream donated by Stewarts, live music, and lawn games for the kids. Feel free to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy in the garden. Suggested donation $5 per person/$20 per family. Children 14 and under, free. Brookwood Point, 6000 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. otsegolandtrust.org or call (607)547-2236

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, APRIL 22
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, APRIL 22

Honoring Our Legacy Of Inclusion

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INTERFAITH COMMUNITY GATHERING – 3 p.m. Program titled “With Malice Toward Non: Honoring America’s Legacy of Religious Inclusion.” Affirming America’s principles of democracy, religious freedom, compassion, and unity for people of all faiths. Temple Beth El, 83 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Info, Ken Sider, ksider@hotmail.com or visit www.templebetheloneonta.org/2017/04/with-malice-toward-none/

EARTH FESTIVAL – 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. 13th annual festival featuring interactive exhibits, activities, vendors, and entertainment. Milford Central School, 42 W. Main St, Milford. Info, occainfo.org/calendar/earth-festival-2017/

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, JAN. 26
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, JAN. 26

‘Know Your Rights’

At Hartwick College

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DISCUSSION – 7-8 p.m. Dinner and a Panel discussion “Know Your Rights.” Chesebro Room, Dewar Hall, Hartwick College, Harwick Dr., Oneonta. Info, www.hartwick.edu/news/hartwick-college-celebrates-king-jr-civil-rights-heritage-month/

CONFERENCE – 8:30-10 a.m. Local manufacturers and training providers meet to discuss goals to ensure there is a trained workforce in the county to meet employers needs. Reservation required. Foothills Performing Arts Center, 24 Market St., Oneonta. Info, Barbara Ann Heegan, President/CEO Otsego County Chamber of commerce, (607)432-4500 ext. 202 or email baheegan@otsegocc.com

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