I used to be quite the privacy nut. So much so, in fact, the second time they printed out one of those red coupons at the supermarket checkout for an alternative product to one I had purchased, I asked to see the store manager. "I don't want you looking at what I bought," I complained. "What if I used a credit card (I wouldn't use a CC at the supermarket at thetime)?" I was probably foaming at him. "Someone could tie my name to the things I've purchased... target me with ads, make inferences about my lifestyle, or all kinds of weird crap."
The guy looked at me, puzzled at first, until that dim light bulb warmed up. "What a good idea!" he said.
That was probably sometime around late '80's, early '90's as I recall. Shortly after, my frugal Japanese bride wanted to pay everything by credit card or direct withdrawal. "Saves time and trouble," she said, "and we'll have a record of everything we purchase."
It sure saved a lot of trips to the cash machine and though I wasn't crazy about it, I went along with her. In doing so, I became one of the prime agents in the demise of my own privacy, but I was hardly the only one.
The United States Government has the whole package, the entire info kit-and-kaboodle on Bill, if they want it. And they do want it... the census, a tool that counts us and lists where we live and citizenship status is required by The Constitution of the United States. Far more useful: the number assigned to each by the S.S. system, linked to our the state and federal tax filings, which in turn, contain detailed financial information, employment history, etc.... you know the drill. There's a lot about us out there by way of our commercial footprint any third class hacker could easily swipe. Corruption and crime related to identity theft or fraudulent and predatory marketing practices are becoming endemic in breath and scope.
In other words, unless you have intentionally lived your entire life off-grid and the government somehow doesn't know you exist, all of your privacy cats are pretty much already out of the bag and surely out of your control. There is no privacy to speak of, not in any real or secure sense.
Now, I don't really care if people know my name, where I work, or even my financial details. What I do care about is whether or not my information is misused or abused or put to purposes to which I might not agree.
A bit of irony begins to appears, on its way to becoming the 800lb. gorilla in the room. The only way to put a stop to the theft and misuse of our information -- to get it back under our control--is to create a centralized informational image having "everything about everyone" that can be linked to, searched and data-mined for telltales signs of information abuse.
At present, the only entity that has access to most of what's needed is our crazy Uncle Sammy. We would never allow our weird Uncle Sam do such a thing, would we? We couldn't allow the G's to link up state, federal and even international reservoirs of information for purposes of gun control, finding tax fraud, public corruption, crime prevention, and rooting potential pockets of terrorism, could we?
Such a thought would be insane, if weren't for the fact the most of our private milk has already spilled and there's really no other choice.
After watching newsclips of the Million Moron March, I had to wonder which traditional values they were talking about: slavery, gender inequality, 3/5 rule, Dred Scott, Trail of Tears, Andersonville, Sherman's March, lynchings, Irish need not apply, smallpox blankets, Wounded Knee, cross burnings, Jim Crow, robber barons, child labor, sweatshops, Red Scare, Scotsboro Boys, Selma, Montgomery, assassinations, Chicago 7, City Riots, My Lai, Kent State, Watergate, Wall Street...
On and on it goes...
Seems to me Glen Beck would take us back to some pretty hard and ugly times, all the while worshiping a god that doesn't exist. Let's hope someday folks who insist on forcing their religion on everyone else will be consider sociopathic criminals like today's sex offenders; isolated from a society much better off and much less troubled without them.
One high-end suburban west high school; four scary, puzzling incidents within a single school year. On the eve of the first day of school, a young woman, stellar student, took up a rope and ended her life upstairs in her room. Last week a dude who seemed to have everything going for him did likewise. In October, a series of threats were inscribed on the school walls with reference to the Columbine High killings. Around the holiday break, the police were called in to locate an explosive device rumored to be in the school. In the latter two cases, boys were expelled and arrested.
Many claim these sorts of incidents arise out of the natural pressures of an environment rife with high-performers and even higher expectations. That certainly is a factor here in Concord-Carlisle, but I'm not convinced it's a cause rather than a symptom of the larger, more widespread problem. After all, the worst of schools in the poorest of neighborhoods have their own set of peer pressure issues... gangs, for one... and being cool or uncool in the neighborhood sense is always a difficult place for a kid to find the right fit. And bullying certainly has no boundaries... unfortunately, it's everywhere.
That second suicide kicked me hard, right in me bucket. Another voice mail from the school principal announcing another wasted life, followed by the email messages citing the same sources of grief counseling and "How to Talk with Your Teen" seminars. Call now... grief counselors are standing by.
The school doesn't seem to recognize that it has any responsibility except passing out information, but in some way, you can't blame them. It's hard to reach kids who don't want to be reached, and basically, kids don't trust adults easily or readily... certainly not teachers, school administrators, surely not other people's parents.
In a sort of an epiphany, I realized the only way troubled kids could get real help is from other kids, not adults, and the way typical American schools systems are designed and implemented forces them into isolation and the ensuing risk. It shouldn't be that way. Throughout most of human history, education of the young indeed took the entire village. Kids weren't bunched into same-age peer groups, separating them through most of their school life from the rest of society. People were taught mainly through an apprentice system, working with and being taught elders who do what the kids eventually will be expected to do.
Our narrow and now antiquated industrial age concept of public education forces many teens to depend solely upon their peers for support and nurturing in any spiritual sense, and most high school kids are often not quite good enough at that... nor should we expect them to be. We need a different system, one in which people of all ages can interact in a life-long, ongoing, educational process where the old will teach the young and elders will have more opportunity to learn from their children.
After watching the Rays embarrass the Red Sox with a series sweep over the weekend, the voice of a favorite film character echoed around inside: Captain Quint from the thriller, Jaws, "Their eyes are lifeless, like a doll's eyes..."
It was a four game zombieland out there, a slaughter that will be known forever in Red Sox lore as the Patriot's Day Massacre... and if they weren't lifeless and dead going into the weekend, they sure were when they came out, judging by the post-massacre locker room interviews. Someone has better fix the "Papi Problem" and right pronto, whether it's David Ortiz or the brain-trust, or else this team is destined to fall asleep on the express train to Nowhereville.
The Boston Red Sox need to hire Quint if they ever hope to catch the Tampa Bay Rays.
While the Nation reels and makes a beeline for the panic button, Terry Francona acts as if there's nothing's wrong and nothing to be done, sort of like the Pope and the abuse scandal.
Hello... Terry? Theo? Someone better Mister-T some life into this miserable platoon of walking dead or the curtain will be down on the 2010 season before the All-Star break.
Someone close to Tiger Woods recently claimed off the record that the world's best golfer was badly influenced by the likes of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley and the city of Las Vegas.
This explains a lot about Woods: he learned the NBA model of public behavior from two of its most skilled practitioners. If Michael Jordan invites you into the VIP room to share the bounty with a six-pack of stacked bimbos, how could you refuse? Once you figure out how many bimbos you can get for, say, a billion dollars, who could blame you for a full-frontal foray into the pay-for-play commodity sector?
At least Tiger was never caught carrying a loaded 9mm or a pound of crack, unlike most NBA players.
It wasn't Tiger's fault. He only wanted to be like Mike. Charles was there to call him a pussy if he wasn't.
In addition to her smashing success as an adult film actress, Jocelyn James is one of the world's most celebrated bad hairpiece models.
Others were shocked by the text messages revealed by one of Tiger's 30-odd mistresses, porn star Jocelyn James. But shouldn't we expect this sort of thing as the norm? After all, if you were dating a porn star introduced to you by Charles Barkley, how the hell do you think you would talk to her?
You can't fault Tiger for adapting so well to NBA/porn-star culture. Someday Tiger Woods will be revered not only as the World's Greatest Golfer, but also one of the top celebrity stick-men of our age... right up there with JFK, Warren Beatty, perhaps second only to the King of Swing, Wilt Chamberlain.
"Gabriella Stompanazzi is Tinsel Town's primary source for who is doing who, and which end they're doing it with..."