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  • Writer's pictureLaura McBride

(J) Buffett was right all along


Intro to Fruitcakes by Jimmy Buffett

"Take for example when you go to the movies these days, you know They try to sell you this jumbo drink, eight extra ounces of watered down cherry coke for an extra twenty five cents. I don't want it I don't want that much organization in my life I don't want other people thinking for me I want my Junior Mints Where did the Junior Mints go in the movies I don't want a twelve lb. Nestle's crunch for twenty five dollars I want Junior Mints."

I thought of that song immediately when a friend posted the following on Facebook today:

"The iPhone health app thinks I've been walking several miles a day around the campground. It doesn't know about the golf cart."

That is WAY too much organization in anyone's life. Why should your phone count your steps? Why should you count your steps, unless you are rehabilitating some muscles and have been told to do so by your doctor?

I admit, though, that I once took the satnav out of the car to help with finding a restaurant in Norwich where I had to meet some people for dinner: I don't know Norwich very well, so it seemed reasonable. But it felt weird, walking down a city street with a device in my hand with a map on it and a tinny voice telling me how many steps it would be until I needed to turn right.

I don't think I like amazon.co.uk and amazon.com recommending books for me based on my purchases, either. It makes me wonder exactly how intrusive their algorithm is, considering my book purchases are all over the literary and non-fiction maps. They often suggest things I would actually would like, despite my disparate and often esoteric choices. I suspect that would be so for all writers. But we writers are generally a private and independent lot, and while seeing titles we might not otherwise have found is attractive, being catalogued someplace like a book is not. I did recently go online to input my favourite items at Waitrose, from a list of possibilities they provided, so I could get an extra 20% off each time I bought those items, and a six pound voucher to print out and use right away just for participating.

One would have to wonder what I have participated in, exactly. I'm not above getting bargains--who is?--but I might well be against the collection of data, especially now that the UK's Tory government is attempting to negate privacy factors, encryption on the internet mainly, so they can collect more data about citizens.

That's ALL we need. Suddenly we are all guilty until proven innocent of...well, whatever the government wants you to be guilty of. Perhaps that's a stretch and only the aluminium hat people are worried about it. Still, if nothing else, banning encruption would probably put a large damper on online sales of goods and services. For that reason alone I cannot see it happening, at least not as they propose it at the moment. Unless, of course, the big players have already created a work-around that small business owners will not have available to them. Yes, that unfortunately sounds like exactly what the Tories would set up. And then, of course, use citizen's unencrypted computer records, captured by MI5 to disenfranchise voters who would turn the Tories out of office.

Graphic by Laura Harrison McBride, c. 2015 (owner of Davewatch.org.)

My remarks about the Tory juggernaut against internet privacy are conjecture, of course. I really don't know enough about cyberspace to be accurate with predictions, but I do know enough about Tories to impugn their motives without giving it a sceond thought.

I don't guess we can return to a simpler age, one in which one's phone made phone calls rather than gathering data on one's potential fitness and health, an age in which the worst thing governments could do to citizens in terms of snooping was wait until a crime had been commmitted, get a warrant, and send cops in to search the place.

Now it looks like we can be thoroughly searched--a fishing expedition, the TV cop shows like to call it--when we input our order for organic chicken breasts, Saudi Baharat seasoning blend and ecologically friendly laundry soap to be delivered by our favourite market. I expect that order would classify me as potential trouble and have some gormlless functionary vetting my internet use, at least. Perhaps it would be best to order breaded frozen fish, frozen peas and regular laundry powder to fly under the upcoming Tory prey-dar.

Copyright 2015, Laura Harrison McBride

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