Friday, December 2, 2016

Pseudo Sibylline Ramblings

I just finished making myself a tin foil hat.

As hats go, especially home brewed hats like this one, it fits pretty well.  Actual functionality will will have to be measured at a later date. Time must pass, and data must be collected to truly evaluate its performance.

Photo credit: Picture stolen from a google search on tin foil hats.  Don't know, and don't actually care who took it.

That brings me nicely to today's subject, but before I get into the meat of this thing...I should probably offer a (reminder) disclaimer:  Do not base your reality on the words I write, and do not take actions based on my musings (or at least if you do...don't blame me if bad things happen). I write for fun.  That is all.  This is a NOT FOR PROFIT gig here...I'm just havin' a little fun because it 3am and if I can't sleep, I might as well kick up a little civil disobedience flavored dust.

You should however, feel free to use my ramblings to help you explore your own truth.

Whew. These disclaimers can be exhausting.  Almost need a lawyer sitting here next to me to help write an opinion, but do it without actually offering an opinion, or say anything that could be used against me later.  Ha! Lawyers.  Fuck them. That's a whole different subject that I will have to tackle another time.

So if you are paying attention at all (and you should be...), China is currently running a "Pilot Program".  The idea is simple: it is a social credit system.  The premise is to give each of its citizens (roughly 1.4 BILLION of them) a rating based on data that is continuously collected on them, and then reward or punish based on that rating.

Did you notice that rustling noise in the background?  Eric Arthur Blair just rolled over in his grave and is about to remind you that "he told you so".

Don't believe me? Think I'm crazy?  Read this and get back to me: China Social Credit  Oh, don't stop there...Still don't trust my source? Do a google search and see if I am as crazy as you think.

I dare you.

So, imagine this.  I go to the store to buy more aluminum foil (Covering that picture window is gonna be expensive...).  I bring my shopping cart to the register, and go to pay the sale price.  The clerk says "I'm sorry, but that blog you wrote about being monitored by the government disqualifies you for the sale price.  Currently, your good citizen rating fell overnight to levels that don't allow you to receive the benefit of lower pricing".  So I pay double.

Just let that sink in for a couple of minutes.  The implications are deep, and the possibilities for this to go wrong on every single level are endless.

Far fetched, right?  Clearly this could never happen here.  This is AMERICA for Christ's sake.  Home of the brave.  Land of the free.  "We the people" have rights you know.

Photo Credit:  "Borrowed" from another google search
Oh...yeah...sorry to interrupt...but about that speeding ticket the other day? Your car insurance company is on line one, says they know you usually don't break the rules, but right now they need to talk to you about a rate increase.

What you say?  To hell with them? You are going to move to the boonies and become a hermit who doesn't need a car, or insurance?  A good credit rating will get you a SWEET loan on a mountain top property, just provide your social security number on this here application and the fat cats will start dolling out your cash (of courseinterest rates may vary depending on your credit score).

Just for fun, I was trying to think of a way to do an experiment on how all of this monitoring and data collection might be obtained.  Using technology, how would I collect data on the actions of people using it?  Could I use that to direct those people to go places, or do things I wanted them to do?   And most importantly, how could I conduct such an experiment without tipping off the subjects of said experiment to my deeper, darker intentions?

First of all, let me remind you that I am not capable of doing these things, nor would I want to.  Bit if I was?  Here is how I would do it (this one is going to get me into trouble...):

You download an app on your smart phone that takes you all over the countryside looking for imaginary creatures. The app uses the GPS location capabilities on your phone to "place" these creatures in the real world, so you have to use your phone to go out and find them. When you find them, you throw virtual balls at your virtual prey to score points.  At some point, you will need to reload those balls so you can go find more creatures. The app then directs you (again, using the GPS capabilities of your phone) to a central location where you can reload.  While there, you meet all sorts of like minded fun seekers who are out doing the same thing.  After some good conversation and a little exercise, you go home. Very satisfied with your efforts.  You sleep well knowing that you had good clean fun, and in no way shape or form were your movements monitored or directed in any way. It was after-all, just a game.  Good clean fun. No harm done, no one was the wiser.

I would call it "Rokemon No".

(Ha Ha...Ok, Rokemon players...comment below with your venom)

So imagine the search engine and data base with the capability to constantly monitor an entire population?!  Holy shit.  That is going to be one hell of a powerful computer.  I sure hope Steven Hawking is wrong about the potential of computers to take over...

To all of this, I go back a couple of paragraphs.  Thank god this is America.  We have rights, laws, and moral codes that would prevent us from being 'rated', and there is certainly no way we are being monitored in our daily lives.  Our politicians would NEVER allow that...  And what's more, we (american citizens) are just too god damned clever to let this type of thing happen on our turf.

What the Chinese government does has no effect on my life.  Right?  I mean really, how would they even start to collect that data??

Now, excuse me while I digress a moment, but can anyone explain why my Facebook adds are suddenly filled with special offers on aluminum foil?  And wait...I hadn't thought about it til now, but my phone also knows which stores are closest to me.  I have to say...I think that all this technology is just so useful!  I love it!  Whenever I do a google, bing, yahoo or any other phone or computer just knows to help me find stuff.  Hell, it can even find me if I am lost.  

"OK Google, Where is the nearest aluminum foil distributor?"

Gotta love it.  All sorts of crazy far fetched theories to ignore, eh?

OK.  On that note, I think I will start a little side business making tin foil hats.  If you want a custom hat for your "bug out bag"...hit me up.

Til later,


Saturday, November 26, 2016

And the award goes to:

Fidel died today.

Over 90 years old, and in his lifetime survived more than 600 assassination attempts.  Don't care who you are, that's impressive.

No matter what you thought old Fidel, his choice in hats is the stuff of legend.  In fact, I doubt most of of the millennials out there reading this even know that he was more than a hat model.  Wait... Millennials read this?  Oh...Christ...that will change everything.  My dark sense of humor is neither politically correct, nor will they receive an award for reading my page.  There will be protests, I'm sure.  Fashionable Hats Matter, you know.

So it's a sick day here in the MacLoosh mansion.  First one in a few years despite the fact that I idly threaten each morning to call in...  You see, I've got this recurring ankle thing. Years of treating my body as less than a temple is apparently catching up to me.  Some sort of overuse, scar tissue build up related tendonitis or something I guess.  In the big picture, It doesn't really matter what my problem is.  What matters to me is that I said "uncle".

The good thing is that I am not currently in a step contest with any overambitious co-workers because today my fitbittythingy has me at less than 1000 steps.  On the scale of living large and half dead, my daily total is about 1/4 of the way to completely lame.

Going back to the Millennial thing...I'm not usually one to brag, but today I think I deserve an award for getting my happy ass of the couch and not wetting myself right where I was.

Anyway, calling in sick on the same day that Fidel kicked it seemed like the perfect excuse to check in, say "Hi", complain a little and maybe just maybe, by putting out a post I could feel like I did something productive today.

Yes.  The bar for productivity is low. Don't judge.

Til Later,


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Will the real MacLoosh please stand up?

I suppose the proper thing to do is re-introduce myself. Right? Well, OK.  I guess, since you asked:

Hi. My name isn't really MacLoosh.  I am a Capricorn, love (I mean LOVE) Little Debby Cakes, I like romantic comedies and long walks in the park.  Oh, yeah...I sometimes go fishing, spend more time with my dog than my family, very rarely update my blog, I have a phone with a messaging app that blows up constantly with irrelevant minutia, I'm not afraid to drown innocent ice cubes in whiskey, and most days are spent teetering on the edge of a breakdown.

So, I don't know why I decided to come back.  Really, for all practical purposes, this thing was lying on the table, no discernible pulse, long dead and the captain had abandoned ship.  But life is full of surprises now isn't it?  And frankly, I like the torture and guilt of feeling like I should update every day ( least bi-annually) but not having the mental energy to get it done.

So as not too wear out my welcome too fast, or burn up too much of that creative juice flowing through me, I think I will go have a drink and watch the Peanuts Thanksgiving Special. Watching Lucy pull the football at the last minute is pure, unadulterated poetry and truth in action.

For those who have been faithful readers over the years (yes...its been years), I will offer my most sincere thanks and apologies.  I do appreciate the patronage, but things change.  This blog is either going to evolve or get left on that table for good.  I can't promise what you are used to from me, but I can tell you that if I write, it will be different than anything I've done in the past.

It's that simple.

Til later, (well....maybe...if I feel like it...)


Friday, March 11, 2016

Chasing Babe Part 1

Warren was good to me.

From as early as I can remember, he took up residence in my life as a driving force. Warren taught me to fish.  He was a bass man, and damn proud of it.  As such, my early childhood fishing was dedicated to chasing large-mouth, with some crappie fishing mixed in when the bass weren't being cooperative.

It's easy to trace my fishing roots.  Hell, I grew up along the Mississippi river, my parents took me camping quite a bit, and with an influence like Warren in my life: becoming a lifelong fisherman was  practically written into my genetic code.  The memories of the trips to Lake Thunderhead (somewhere in Missouri) with Warren, Ann (his wonderful wife) and Babe are the memories that mean so much to me that I rarely talk about them.

It wasn't unusual for Warren to call my dad and tell him to bring me over to go pheasant hunting, or to get my stuff ready for a weekend fishing trip--we would be leaving right after I got home from school.

For those who know my father, he is an old softy now--age will do that to you-- but back in the day....people didn't just "tell" my dad what to do.  Ever.

Except of course, Warren.

Through years of working closely together in the shops building "crawlers" for J.I Case, an amazing friendship was forged.  I don't remember much about what he did at the shops other than he was a welder and my dad was the foreman.  My dad tells me that he's never seen a better welder than Warren; apparently his fillet welds looked like works of art.  They had been through some tough times in that factory and had a friendship that was a strong as they get.

While Warren was a big part of my life, his dog "Babe" left a pretty solid dent in my heart too. Babe was a gorgeous English Springer Spaniel, and has always been the yardstick by which I measure dogs.  I can't be sure, but I would bet that if Babe were ever threatened by something or someone, Warren would have protected her with his life. I know Babe would have protected him with hers. There was a bond between them that can't be described.  It was, for lack of a better way to express it...absolute love.

Warren and Babe were inseparable.  Pheasant hunting was Warren's other passion and in the field was where Warren and Babe were at their best.  There wasn't a pheasant in west central Iowa that was safe with Babe working the field and flushing birds with Warren patiently waiting, shotgun in hand. When he shot, he rarely missed and when it was time to retrieve, Babe never failed. They worked as if they were one, and as far as I was concerned, they were superheros.  I remember asking him once, how he had found the perfect dog?  His answer?  "I didn't pick Babe.  I picked her litter, then all that was left was commit to the puppy that came home with me.  It just worked out that Babe and I were meant to be together".

If wisdom were a single person, and had a voice--Warren was it. That said, I don't believe the "meant to be" part of his comment.  He gave Babe his undivided attention and love.  She was the recipient of the type of environment that every dog deserves: an owner who fully committed to her.  Warren may have said it was "meant to be" but I happen to believe that it was more like a good marriage; sometimes difficult, but they were always devoted to each other, and it was always worth the effort. He treated her with love and respect, she simply responded in kind.

I wasn't old enough to undetrstand at the time, but because it was Warren who told me this, I filed his words away like so many other things that he taught me.

Warren had a great sense of humor and a way of boiling down what needed to be said into precious few, carefully chosen words.  Occasionally, one liners and pearls of wisdom from him bubble to the top, and I catch myself singing a limerick that was made up about me one night in the camper.  On that night, I bolted out of my bunk and outside into a severe thunderstorm because I had waited too long to go pee.  I barely made it past the awning and nearly got hit by a tree branch that came down from the wind.

It was a funny limerick, and was made even better because he made it up spontaneously.  Over the years, we had a lot of laughs over that night. In fact, my parents and I still enjoy bringing it up occasionally,. Warren still brings smiles to our faces, despite the fact that 30 yeas have passed since we last saw him.

In the way that wisdom can be sneaky, the limerick has also served as a cautionary tale about waiting too long to do what needed to be done.

I'm listening Warren. I am definitely listening.

Warren past away in 1986.  I was 16 and never had the chance to really tell him what he meant to me.

To be continued...