We Are Borg

Posted on March 29, 2018. Filed under: Politics, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Are you kidding me?” That was the intrusive thought as I perused the electronics store looking for home security systems. My personal privacy is one thing I treasure, and, I wanted to protect my new hermit sanctum from uninvited and opportunistic “guests.”

My sense of what to expect in the way of suitable equipment was stand-alone motion sensors, site alarms, and, maybe closed-circuit camera surveillance, all of which would be subject to my personal control.

But, the systems on display here touted such wondrous features as voice control, inter-device wireless communication, remote viewing of my hermit cave from another city, even talking to a person ringing my doorbell from 200 miles away. And, it was touted, I had personal control of the entire security spectrum through my smart phone or other computerized device. Such control would be managed over Al Gore’s marvelous invention, the World Wide Web. YES! That would be the same internet that allows our identities, wealth, and reputations to be stolen… where employers can read your thoughts on personal web sites and fire you for being non-compliant with the employer’s views.

Another thought, chilling to my personal sense of privacy and control of my life, flashed through my mind on the heels of that hype: George Orwell’s 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Its distinction was the introduction of the term Big Brother, the name of an authoritative government whose power derived from the application of thought control over its citizens, a power facilitated by confinement and brain-washing of non-compliant persons.

It was the term “internet” that fueled my spine-tingling thought of Big Brother. That net would be the same place that has stored all the formerly private information about my financial dealings, my bank information, my medical information, my comments on Facebook and Twitter, my political affiliations and opinions, my religious convictions, my familial connections; even the kind of music and movies I see and hear, and the kind of things I enjoy and purchase at the grocery store. All known to the internet.

Yes, your personal calendar, though fortified against intrusion by that secret password known only to you, is vulnerable to any hacker’s eyes.

Oh, for the good old days of real privacy. Back then, your personal information was not sold or given away by businesses with whom you contracted, and the use of cash did not announce to the world your name, your address, your description, your employer, your location at the time you made payment, etc.

Cash is a private transaction, whereas credit cards and debit cards scream out everything about you over a virtual public-address system.

I just love internet sites’ declarations of privacy toward your personal business: Because we respect your privacy, we will not sell or give away your information to others… except to our affiliates and 3rd parties who can help us make another buck, and they have not agreed to anything regarding the privacy of your personal information.

That previous paragraph was my personal summation of what that 10,000-word, fine-print declaration of respect intimates.

Once, I considered myself to be “John Q. Citizen.” Now, I have become stamped on the forehead as “Grade-A Prime Marketing Prospect.”

I resist, but I know…

resistance is futile.

I try to remain apart, but, I know…

I will be assimilated.

Though Orwell missed the bigger picture, his Big Brother has jumped into the Collective Mind of internet feet first. NSA, FBI, FCC, KGB, and a host of other alphabet soup agencies and dot-com web sites gleefully mine the mother-lode of data held within that COLLECTIVE mind of internet.

Another chilling thought from the universe of Roddenberry’s Star Trek…

Resistance is futile.

You will be assimilated.


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Digital Vendetta

Posted on August 1, 2014. Filed under: General Interest, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

and I am not just paranoid.  They ARE out to get me!

Something old and nothing new.  I rough-drafted this article about 6 months ago, but, I’m still chaffed by those events, so I am completing it now as ointment on my nagging hot spots.

Your words for the day (my definitions, so there):

  • ‘pooned = harpooned; grievously wounded; irked to the max
  • lampooned = made fun of; grievously wounded; irked to the max
  • dissed = see lampooned

Apple:  The computer maker, not the fruit.  I can’t complain much about their products, since I have yet to own one.  “Why not?,” you may ask.  When I first started thinking about getting a computer about 15 years ago, I thought the iMacs had the most stylish appearance.  The price tag was stylish, too — about 3 times the cost of a PC, which I could also not afford.  I immediately wrote iMac off my present and future Christmas lists, since I knew the hardware was  almost identical to that of the less expensive (and less stylish) PC.  I mean, Apple didn’t use precious metals exclusively in the iMac, or they would have been the only computers thieves would have targeted.  And over the years, I have not bought Apple’s gimmick of marketing a “great” product as they start the clock and the hype for a better (albeit the same) “much-anticipated and improved” product — annually.

Microsoft:  Deleted my Starter Word 2010 program that came with their Jim-dandy new Win7 with a “critical” update that told me I had to buy the full Win7 Word at full price if I ever wanted to see my documents again.  Let’s hear a round of applause for the system reset option.  The critical update was persistent, though.  I had to go through the system reset routine 3 times before it gave up.

Microsoft (or maybe Hewlett/Packard):  My Jim-dandy new Win7 laptop by HP came complete with a jack rabbit cursor that jumps somewhere else on the document while I am typing, and sometimes when I just look at the screen.  My typing point jumps to wherever the idle mouse cursor is resting.

Microsoft:  Though happy with Windows XP, I finally gave in and got a Win7 laptop.  The price was right.  A few months later, Win8 made the scene.  The salt in that wound?  Win7 (which sucks) deep-sixed a number of features I liked on XP, while Win8 has features that resemble those in XP that I had become friends with, such as that floating portfolio that clicked so neatly when opened or closed.  I never learned to use it, but, I loved its being there, and it looked a lot more professional than all those “post-its” on my Win7 desktop.

MicrosoftLong suppressed irks.  Around year Y2K, this pioneering software developer went beyond Windows 98 with new programs.  Windows 2000, followed by Vista, and — in their dust — the finally-got-it-right-almost Windows XP.  There were more satisfied buyers of the XP than the one-night-stand Win2000 and Vista. Wave bye-bye to 2000 and Vista.

Microsoft:  Deja vu…   all…   over…   again.  All you purchasers of 2000, Vista, and XP, get your checkbooks over to that retail outlet and buy Windows 7…   no, Windows 8…   uh, no, Windows 8.1…   shatspah!  Reserve one of those Windows 9 units I am hearing about.

Quick question to MS:  Are you using Steve Jobs’ and Apple’s marketing ruse of designing a product then producing incomplete versions of it with a promise to add “new” (wink, wink) features (that you already designed into it) as an upgrade in each of the next 3 years?  If you do as good a job as Apple of hyping your much-anticipated “upgrade,” you can get the same schmucks to buy the same piece of hardware they already own next year with an “extra” in the software…   which could have been added to the unit in-hand electronically at no extra cost to the customer.

Kudos to the marketing masters at Apple for taking the Cabbage Patch Doll generation to the cleaners year after year.  They were ripe for it.

T-Mobile Electronic upgrade is what T-Mobile did to the “My Touch” unit I liked so much several years ago.  On a quiet Sunday night around 2:00 a.m., the screen message said — in effect — “Don’t touch nuthin’.  Your Android Ver. 2.0 is being upgraded to a newer version of Android.  We are in control.  You can have your new and improved phone back when we are done with it.”  …sigh!  If only that had been the case.  The brain enhancement they gave my little phone was a lobotomy.  T-Mobile techs worked with it for a week and finally decided it was brain-dead.  I had the sad duty of boxing it up in a casket and sending it back to T-Mobile, while greeting its less-than-acceptable free replacement, a Samsung Galaxy S.

There is more of this digital dissing of my horse-and-buggy mind-set, but, this is depressing me.  Soon, I will be heading over to the electronics store and see if the Windows 8.1 units are on sale.  That’s what will happen just before the next “newer and so much more improved” version comes out.  (Maybe they will throw in a vintage Cabbage Patch Doll that I can adopt.)




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Microwaves, Bluetooth and Health

Posted on July 31, 2014. Filed under: Health Studies, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Whoa!  Have I shown you my mutated

Electromagnetic radiation is a basic in the Universe’s structure and operation.  It is everywhere (probably).  The Great Learned of Earth have examined it, mulled it, and catalogued its various manifestations to their satisfaction.  The inventive among them have figured out how to capture that theoretical* stuff and make it work for humans.  Thus, we have devices that can employ, create, record, and interpret long waves, short waves, microwaves, radio waves, x-rays, gamma rays, and, I am sure there are a lot of other descriptive tags** for all that stuff…

some of which — in ANY concentration — ain’t good for nobody.***  Think of it as a Cosmic Candy & Pastry Bistro, with aisle after aisle of freshly prepared, aromatic come-ons everywhere.  As long as you sample very sparingly, the delight remains delightful, but, over-absorption leads to complications within your biomass…   and repeat trips to the clothing store, dietician’s office, medical specialists, and, that  once-in-a-lifetime dream trip to the mortician’s workshop.

For simplicity — and fewer words — let’s just call all that stuff microwaves.  It is omnipresent and useful to that naked ape tool-maker, homo sap us.  But, like all things human, we tend to overdo it.  You ride the wind, you go where it takes you.

Our bodies were developed amidst the wild, chaotic, and yet, orderly, workings of the Universe.  That ambient level of microwaves was calibrated into our genetic makeup.  But, those clever, industrious humans have learned to create and issue billions of new sources of microwaves (radar grids, cell phones, Bluetooth technology, GPS…) that traverse the whole of their environment; have they tipped the scale of neutral microwave effect beyond the normal and natural safe limit of absorption?  If so, to what effect?  If not, how will they ever know?

Hey, I am just one of trillions upon trillions of living entities.  Like all them others, I got lots of questions and almost no answers.  Trial-and-error and wait-and-see are the only strategies any of us have.  But, we humans have invented something else to pass the time between birth and death:  games — such as one-upmanship, he said-I said, unprovable hypothesizing, hot-button journalism…

In the realm of human-generated microwave transmissions, there is either too much or not enough data to determine the degree of impact on human organisms.  Until that is resolved, we will all keep playing our word games.

hmm!  What do you call that, anyway?






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Cell Phones and Brain Tumors

Posted on July 27, 2014. Filed under: Journalism, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There is an old  saw about preoccupation and tunnel vision.  I think it goes, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.”  For this article, I think I will use that in this manner:

  • You can’t see the microwave forest for the cell-phone tree.

Speaking of trees, once upon a time that was the only source of reliable heat.  Right off it was noted that the side effect — smoke — was bad to breathe.  The coughing, choking, burning eyes and such were the tip-off.  So, it was used outside until the overhead smoke draft was thought up to give indoor smoke a way to the outside.

It has been pretty much the same story with all of our other energy sources:

  • Fossil fuels had pretty much the same problem as wood — black soot and sulfur all over everything; black lung wasn’t a good selling point, either.
  • Nuclear energy seemed to be a clean, abundant alternative — except for the tissue-destroying radiation effect.
  • Electricity is clean enough, but you gotta use fossil or nuclear fuels to generate it.

Communication methods have had a lighter impact on the environment than energy extraction.  Sign language, body language, and talking had little impact on environment.  With the advent of smoke signals, parchment, paper, quills and ink,  trees and birds bore the brunt of any negative ecological impact.

The telegraph and telephone caused a lot of wire to be strung all over the place.  Other than being an eyesore, not much environmental impact.

Then along came Jones…   Marconi…   Guglielmo Marconi and his invisible radio waves — and wireless transmission (except for the power cord to fire up the transmitter) strutted onto the human scene.  Homo smart sapiens followed that with microwave transmission and cell phones.  Result:  the everyday person now has the world at its fingertips, conveniently tucked into a belt, pocket, purse or inside its ear.  Clean, portable, efficient…   except that

Some years ago, this guy got himself a brain tumor.  He must have had a cell phone and kept it glued to the side of his head where the tumor showed up  ’cause he screamed, “THE CELL PHONE CAUSED IT!”  Cause and effect, or coincidence?  We know that microwaves can be harmful (check with that lump of charcoal in you microwave oven that just went in to become a warm biscuit), but I lean toward “coincidence” because:

  • Brain tumors have been around a lot longer than cell phones, and, heretofore, have not required that input.
  • Throughout the general population, over a span of time, there will be numerous incidents of brain tumors.  It is historical.
  • The cell phone has a broad appeal to the general public, some of whom will undoubtedly experience brain tumors in their lifetimes (and kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, Parkinson’s…   you get the picture).  Owning the latest version of the iPhone or Oprah Winfrey’s recent entry in the magazine business will not change that inevitability.
  • Other than one unfortunate victim of tumor-ism, there was nothing to suggest that tumors appeared concurrently with the advent of cell-phone-ism.

But the media picked up on the allegation and gave it press time.  “Researchers” looked into it, manufacturers installed microwave blocks on cell phones, and the government established a “safe maximum microwave output” for cell phones.  The public and the media went back to their routines (involving the constant use of cell-phones?) quietly satisfied.

I saw this video on the Yahoo! home page a couple of weeks ago in which the narrator listed the top 5 cell phones that come closest to the government-established safe limit for microwave radiation.  And I got a good laugh.

Since all of the phones listed were within the established safe limits, the story accomplished only 3 things:

  1. Smirched the reputations of manufacturers and their products that were in compliance with established standards.
  2. Gave a video “journalist” a hot button to entice site visitors who would be exposed to embedded advertising.
  3. Allowed the aforementioned “journalist” to prove once again that The Big Pee* will miss the THE BIG STORY because they are focused on hot-button-sensitive audiences…   to make a buck.

The BIG story our videographer missed:

  • The Universe is naturally full of microwave radiation.  We are immersed in it constantly.
  • Cell phones spend most of their time in pockets, purses, and on belts.  At home and office, they are often on a desk.
  • It is that cool-looking blue-tooth device plugged into the ear emitting microwaves that is right up against that brain.
  • Microwave transmission towers that comprise the cell-grid making the cell phone possible emit much stronger impulses than that puny little cell phone.  Everyone in the cell coverage area spends all of their time in range of two or more of these mega-emitters.
  • Inside your home, which is bathed liberally in microwave tower emissions, you have added wireless broadband, wireless printers, wireless television, and maybe even a wireless security system.  (For the slow-minded among us, wireless transmission means microwave transmission.)  All of that together is a lot more than the government-mandated limit for your little cell phone emissions.

And don’t forget that when you are a member of a large gathering of people, 95% of everyone there has a cell phone.  Are they keeping their tumor-causing emissions to themselves, or are they sharing with you?

The cell phone is just one tree in the microwave forest, but, the Media, perpetual complainers, and obliging bureaucrats just can’t see the forest that surrounds it.

And if litigators can ever get something to latch onto, they will count on the “tunnel vision**” of the jury panels to line their pockets with filthy lucre…   that would be “ill-gotten gains“…   by suing the hapless manufacturers of an insignificant source of microwaves.


* As in “press” with a capital “P”

** Ignorance is another good word

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