Maybe I'm Just Paranoid

I’m not sure what this says about my general psychological state, but whenever I hear about new technology, I immediately think of all the ways it could be used for untoward activity.

For instance, there is a feature on Google Maps that allows you to have a street view of the address you search.  Now, I can see why this might be helpful. Suppose I wanted to get to the U.S. Post Office in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  I can see why someone not great with directions might want the visual aid.

From that angle, it looks more like a prison.

But, what if this was your house? There is a feature on Google Maps that allows you to “walk” along the street. Any creep who knows the general area in which you live can easily find what your house looks like. If your car was in the driveway at the time the image was gathered, anyone can see what you drive, as well. While only street views are provided (and not your backyard), it still seems like a burglar could still reasonably case your house for possible points of entry.

Is this really a good idea?

It doesn’t end at Google Maps, either. Most communication-based technology frightens me. Look at cell phones, for instance, are they really anything more than devices with which the government can spy on you and track your location?

Seriously, though, there are a lot of really disturbing web applications and pages that blur the line between public information and the implied right to privacy the Supreme Court has ruled can be found in the U.S. Constitution. Having your phone number in the white pages of a phone book in 1985 wasn’t a big deal. The people in your home town could call you. If you didn’t want this, you could have your number unlisted.

Now, anyone in the world can find information on you by typing your name into a search engine. Threats of identity theft abound, but this information could be used for even more unsavory purposes.

There are many upsides to being able to connect to people all over the world through the World Wide Web, but at what cost?


Suffering is Free

I started getting migraines about a year and a half ago. My sister has gotten them for her whole life, and when she had one, I never really understood what she was going through.

It’s just not a really bad headache. Yes, there is intense pain. I describe it as an alien creature with a gardening trowel trying to dig its way out of my head from behind my right eye. Along with the pain, for me there comes intense nausea, seeing wavy lines, feeling dizzy, and having my senses heighten so much that light and sound are painful. There also seems to be a general sense of disconnectedness. Like I am trying to escape my body but something is cruelly pinning me down.

When I see the wavy lines, the song “Wave of Mutilation” by the Pixies always pops into my head.[1] But, the best song that really captures a migraine is Mr. Bungle’s “Goodbye Sober Day,” particularly starting at about 3 minutes in.

It’s unpleasant.

And my migraines last for days.

Continue reading

The Best Policy

When I’m not being sarcastic, I’m an honest person.

I’m usually tactful, but I can be blunt on occasion.

I get mixed reactions from this. I think it frightens some people. Not to mention, I think we’re so used to being lied to, people just don’t believe me most of the time. Of course, it’s also possible that I’m so good at being sarcastic that no one can tell the difference.

People always claim to value honesty, but I think that’s  a lie.

Honesty is scary.

Honesty is ugly.

Honesty can hurt.

One of the problems with being honest is that sometimes what is truthful in some circumstances isn’t truthful in other circumstances. Going back and reading my own old blog entries, I sometimes question my ideas and motivations behind them, even though they were honest when I wrote them.

Maybe that’s what’s so scary about honesty. If there is no absolute truth, then what’s true changes. With lies, we can construct an absolute truth and we can cling to it and let it protect us from the scary, the ugly and the painful.

I think the hardest person to be honest with is yourself. It’s hard to uncover all the layers of your ideas and influences and all the things that other people have told you that have shaped who you are. Sometimes I wonder, is there even anything left?

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln.

It's "its," not "it's."

I don’t have perfect grammar by any means. I start a lot of my sentences with “And” and “But.” I often use fragments for stylistic purposes. I overuse the word “that.” Not to mention, sometimes I get my use of “that” and “which” mixed up. This is all to say that I’m certainly no expert on the subject.

Nevertheless, few spelling/grammar faux pas irritate me more than improper use of apostrophes. (The only one I can think of that annoys me more is the “fewer”/”less” distinction, but that’s a story for another day.)

Apostrophes are primarily used to make contractions and to show possession.

There is a difference between “its” and “it’s.” I understand why this could possibly be confusing, because “its” shows possession without an apostrophe, but “it’s” is clearly a contraction for “it is.” Not to mention, words like “his” and “her” also show possession without use of an apostrophe.

Lately, though, I’ve been seeing a lot of writing which uses the apostrophe to make words plural, which is just wrong and ridiculous. In the past week, I’ve seen the following: “one’s,” “Friday’s,” and even “marshmallow’s.” None of these cases was the “‘s” being used to show possession.

Yes, I’ve run into the problem of how to make letters and numbers plural, as in: “There were 15 Cs on the exam.” I’ve seen this written: “There were 15 C’s on the exam,” but when the letter is capitalized, I think the proper way to do this is just adding an “s.”

It’s only recently that I’ve been seeing this mistake with regular, everyday words. Normally, I could blame Twitter or texting, but that just doesn’t explain it.

So, I ask, what is everyone’s sudden infatuation with the apostrophe?

Good Luck with That

I’m sick of hearing people say: “If you believe in something and work really hard, you can do it!”

It’s luck, people. Deal with it.

And the pharoah gets all the credit.

Okay, so maybe it’s not all luck. Sometimes hard work is rewarded, but often times it isn’t. I suppose this all depends on what one means by being “rewarded,” but usually it means something like praise, recognition, financial compensation, or even just pride in a hard day’s work. But, pride doesn’t put food on the table. Not to mention, it doesn’t take a whole lot to have the rug pulled out from under your pride with a nice bit of criticism.

The truth of the matter is that some people achieve their dreams and other people don’t, and it’s just a lie that hard work is the key to achieving dreams. For one, not all dreams require hard work, but more importantly, there are a lot of other contributing factors.

Continue reading