Monday, September 20, 2010

What Privacy?

December 19, 2009
Yes, it has been too long since I posted here, but you get what you pay for, and this is a free thing.  I will try to do a bit better.
I am not a Conspiracy Kook per se, but I have just enough tech knowledge to realize much of what is possible these days.  I have a sticker on a file cabinet at work which reads "One Nation Under Surviellance", and was asked about it just the other day by a visitor.  The easiest explanation I could think about at the time was my travel to the gulf coast on a scooter trip.  I do not like to carry large amounts of cash, so I mostly travel with a bit of cash, my check card, and a couple of gasoline credit cards.  Out on the road, I like to stop every 50-60 miles, to top off gas, check fluids and tires, and rest my old joints and fake feet. On a 200+ mile tool to the coast, this will usually involve about 4 pit stops, including one when I arrive at my destination city, all using the debit/credit cards .  It also creates a transaction at whatever lodging, probably a couple meals, and repeat as needed on the way home.  In short, I have created electronic footprints to the coast and back home, available to whatever agency of government who may be keeping track of my movements, plus records of movement and use of my cellphone. Scary?
Maybe, maybe not.  Here is the good part of all this: I have a buncha health problems, to the extent that I have a better-than-average chance of keeling over at any time.  If I am traveling alone, and end up lying in a ditch somewhere beside a two-lane highway, I have a good chance of being found.  My cellphone is GPS activated, and can be tracked almost instantly to within a few feet.  If the phone is destroyed or turned off for whatever reason, a fast run of my card records can narrow me down to 50 miles or so, by the last gas stop, meal, or whatever.
The bad part of all this?  See above.  A number of folk get absolutely crazy about this, convinced that The New World Order, or someone, is keeping track of everybody; where they go, what they do, etc.  There are a few flaws with this thinking, mostly revolving around people’s perception of privacy.  The bottom line is that you ain’t got any.  If you walk outside your house/apartment/whatever, your privacy is gone, and you are visible to all and sundry.  The people who would recoil in horror at the thought of someone, anyone, looking at purchase records to see if they own a Toro mower will without thought crank their Toro Saturday morning and mow their grass, they and their Toro plainly visible to anyone who drives by on the street.  Those who rail against security cameras in stores and parking lots do not seem to realize that without the cameras, they are on a bike or in a glass cage (car), or pushing a buggy through a store, visible to all.  In such circumstances, I am difficult to overlook - I am a big guy with fake legs, usually dressed in an arrogant Banana-Republic style, sporting a pony tail, and in the case of retail stores, normally astride a wheelchair or mobility scooter, and I am not likely to be unnoticed.  Also, the average working person is thought to be on camera about 3000 times a day. In my case, it applies to my workplace, which has cameras in every corridor, so my movements around the building are committed to electronic storage every workday, to include my frequent tooling down the corridor to the men's potty. One morning, my mother called to say that during a traffic report on the local TV news, she had seen my pickup truck on the TraffiCam, so I had been randomly recorded on I-59 southbound at 6:44am.
For the tinfoil-hat-black-helicopter crowd, we are also talking about our own government, which for the most part is far less efficient or competent than we imagine.  Been to the DMV lately?

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