Mr. McFeeley trebucheted the Castle’s satchel of mail across the moat and into the inner courtyard in the pre-dawn hours this morning. He’s been awfully standoffish ever since that unfortunate encounter with Mandarin’s pet manticore, Barry.
Correspondent Blue Sun writes:
First, let me thank the Gormogons for adding me to your blog roll. It always brings me joy to see that someone has found my humble site through yours. Second, I had a thought while at the movie theater last night that fits in somewhat with your article discussing the employer reading the employee’s text messages. It seems to me that in this age of electronic “connectyness,” we as a people are becoming more and more like sheep. Not only have we made it easy for higher-ups to read our thoughts and track our doings, but we seem to want it (what with the whole social networking thing and all). My brother summed it up nicely as we were discussing it by saying, “The easiest way to control someone is to make him want to be controlled.”
While you say that the government would require a warrant to search the man’s text messages, your story at least illustrates how easy it is to snoop on someone’s privacy.
Blue Sun is correct. Technology is in many ways a wonderful and liberating thing. However, most technology also has a dark side. We have a duty to examine both sides of the equation before using technology.
A simple example this technological balance is vaccination. Vaccines cure many diseases that used to kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people each year. In the United States alone, smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria, etc. are all consigned to medical textbooks and history books. Vaccinations killed many as well. On the whole, society decided the small risk to the individual of vaccination was worth the overall benefit to society.
Modern communications technology (internet, cell phones, social networking) has undergone no such thorough analysis. To join this revolution is in many ways to give up some of your privacy. Many of us give no thought whatsoever to this infringement. Some of us have given it thought and determined that on balance the benefits of instant communication outweigh the negative impact on privacy.
But how many of us have thought about aggregation of our personal information in the hands of large corporations and the government? Google, Microsoft, you name it. If they can make money of your personal information, they’ll do it.
How many of us have thought about the ability of our credit card companies to track out purchases, and, perhaps, sell that information to marketers?
How about EZ Pass? When will cash-strapped states decide to use such toll information to calculate average speed and mail you a ticket without ever having observed you speeding directly?
How creepy is it that your supermarket directly targets ads and coupons to you based on your purchases, as recorded through use of your shoppers club card?
‘Puter apologizes for getting tangential, but Blue Sun’s thoughts pushed ‘Puter down the road to considering the technological onslaught on our zone of privacy. It amazes ‘Puter how little thought people give to providing personal information to just about anyone. People no longer seem concerned about privacy.
This has given ‘Puter something to mull over as he recuperates.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.