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Privacy Ancient & Modern

Below is a statue of Admiral David Farragut.  He captured New Orleans in 1862, which split the Confederacy and virtually stopped the export of southern cotton.  His famous quote, "damn the torpedoes, go ahead full speed ahead" comes from the battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. In those days, they called naval mines torpedoes. The harbor was mined but Farragut ordered it forward anyway.

Farragut Square in Washington on January 29, 2009 

It is only embarrassing if you don’t talk about it. I had my first colonoscopy today and I am happy to say that I don’t need another one for ten years.  The actual procedure is very easy. They use general anesthesia and it is no more uncomfortable than an afternoon nap.

The preparation is the hard part. You have to drink about three liters of some chalky stuff.  It is really hard to drink that much of anything and this stuff is harder than most. You also cannot eat anything the day before. This was not as hard as I thought.  

Modern medicine is wonderful.  Things that used to be hard are now easy. They are very careful legally, however. I had to sign lots of forms and they told me lots of things about privacy. They worry too much.  I think we should expect reasonable - not absolute - privacy.  

Absolute privacy, the privacy where you were really unknown, is a thing of the past. Hanging onto this old fashioned privacy illusion is silly and counterproductive.    While some people are busily reinforcing the front gate with ridiculously stringent laws and regulations, they are eagerly tearing down the back walls, by putting all sorts of really personal information on Facebook or their cell phones.  Internet has got you anyway. The only way you can hide from Google is to have a really common name. Chrissy (Christine Johnson) is immune to Google search.  Most people are not.     

It doesn’t bother me if somebody can find out my buying or travel habits.  I voluntarily share information with Amazon, Safeway, CVS or Marriott, among others.    I don’t mind if this helps them tailor their offerings to my tastes, although I am mildly annoyed that some computer program can fairly predict my behavior by extrapolating from my previous choices.  As a Federal employee, I give the government the right to monitor my office computer use.  Frankly, I find this a type of protection from scammers etc.  Privacy?  All I want is that people cannot compel me to do things or buy things.   They can offer all they want. 

Below is the National Portrait Gallery, one of the most interesting museums in Washington.

National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC on January 30, 2009

Generally, I figure anybody who wants to find out about me can do so but they will soon get bored and go away.   I do, however, like to be unconnected.   I don’t own cell phone and I don’t use the one the government gives me if not on duty.  When I go down to the woods it is very hard to find me.   We can still get lost.  This is the kind of privacy we can still choose, but it is the kind of privacy most people don’t want.  They want to be connected all the time.   I hate it when those clowns talk on the phone when they are driving.   Few things are so urgent that you really need to take a call when driving … or doing most other things for that matter.  

But you don’t need details about everything.  That is why I included only the unrelated pictures in this privacy article.


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