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Flag Day 2013

Google Knows How I Work


Friends want to know how I work -- what I do to get “the creative juices flowing.” Husband said it might be the subject for an essay.


I explained to one friend that I was making macaroni salad one afternoon and kept getting interrupted by Creative Self to write a poem. I emailed the completed composition to her in an attached file. She marveled at how I pour my soul into my writing. I explained that it was while I was pouring the dressing over the macaroni that the truly meaningful metaphors came to me.


Another afternoon, I wrote portions of my Western while listening to the ballades from the multi-CD set, “The Chopin Collection” by Artur Rubenstein. Trust me: it’s a lot of Chopin. I think even Frédéric would have had more than his fill of the piano playing.


As I typed “trust me” I thought of my unfettered belief that anytime anyone says, “Trust me” or “Believe me,” the trust and belief about to be granted that person form a calculated risk. And so it is with Big Brother, whom many Americans have belatedly found out is quite an indignant, snobby, snotty punk with the foul fragrance of the fascist.


Edgah (J. Edgar Hoover) was a schoolboy compared to the current crop of clowns, creeps, and hypocrites posing as the Sentinels of America and her liberties. The real sentinel of America evidently is The Guardian, the British national daily newspaper. That bust of Churchill, wherever it is, smiles broadly. I’d say the debt owed to the United States by the Brits across the pond has been paid in full. I also think that Winston certainly knew how to deal with bullies. And the Lord helps those who help themselves.


Johnny Fever on the classic comedy tv show, WKRP, spoke with abject fear and trembling about the Phone Cops. Johnny knew what he was talking about. I find, however, the invasion of privacy by the U.S. Government to be less outrageous than the fact that Google, youtube, amazon, and wiki know precisely how I work. They could write a book on it.


The wiki articles are boilerplate but I do use them as a starting point for information. Once I wade past the predictable 1950s McCarthy persecution, 1960s social unrest and upheaval, 1970s controversy, 1980s greed, 1990s triumph of “progressives” (when the greed really got going), the Millennial madness that has actually been going on for millennia, and the obligatory speculative commentary on the sex lives of dead men and dead women (it is amazing how many of the unable-to-respond deceased were bisexual, homosexual, or of unknown but nonetheless questionable sex) -- I get to some nuggets of factual, cited (rather than sourced) material that can be further researched elsewhere from primary sources.


Wiki seems to know my proclivities well. So does Google, which likes to inform me on the search engine results how many times I have been to a particular site and the last date that I visited it. How thoughtful of them.

The targeted ads (AdChoices -- not my choice) from gmail utterly freak me out. Dear Son thinks they are nifty. I find them ghastly. Deleting cookies does help when you are dealing with the targeted ads; but the problem is that you pile up cookies faster than you can delete them. Picture Lucy and Ethel wrapping the chocolates on the conveyor belt! The security setting on the internet browser must be set so high to block all the cookies that connecting to websites then becomes a herculean effort. Basically, the firewall becomes your prison. You feel like you’re sentenced to Alcatraz.


Just for starters, my emails containing statements about Otis Redding; having a cruddy flu; the farce resulting from latest farouche spin of the roulette wheel by the French gambling on a “leader”; fascinating factoids discovered while writing a novel; grocery lists; the splendid acting job by Cher in “Moonstruck”; wearing a new skirt from a certain retailer; the punitive price of shipping for curtains purchased online from Taxxachusetts; the infernal noise of a weedwhacker whacking too close to Home; Gabrielle the Cat throwing up; the compare-and-contrast of the latest eye shadow palettes by several makeup companies; the exorbitant price of tortilla chips; and a recent visit to the dentist -- each and every one spawned ads that horrified me. I must keep AdChoices busy!


I’ve been known to research certain diseases, epidemics, symptoms of morphine addiction and withdrawal, poisons (“belladonna” -- the plant, not the porn star, must have given the Snoopers a real thrill), pistols, rifles, and edged weapons. The folks on the other side of the subliminal screen certainly took notice!


And now that my creative process is so well-detailed by total strangers, it obviates the need for me to document it! If I ever decide to do so, I can always ask an array of digital voyeurs for info on Moi.


I now compose my emails with salutations to the proper personages “eyeing” me while the song by the BeeGees, “Nights on Broadway,” plays through my mind. Barry emphatically sings (in the baritone before it leaped falsetto):


“Heeeeere we are. In the room full of strangers.

Standing in the dark. Where your eyes could not see me.”


The late, great Robin warbles:

“Well, I had to follow you,

Though you did not want me to . . .”


Somehow, Orwell’s 1984 (a truly bleak novel without a scintilla of hope) did not envision pre-disco music as part of confronting the snoops, perverts, and devious documenters of our days and nights. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the intimacies (and medical records) of our lives. Every time that I go to lyricsfreak.com, I slowly smile at my silent, secret wacko watcher in the ethersphere.

Do you know that “Nights on Broadway” is from the BeeGees album entitled MAIN COURSE? Yes, my fellow Americans, we are dinner. As Husband once explained to me, “You’re either at the table or on the menu.”


I offer my condolences to the True Believers who thought that they were seated quite comfortably at the table. They are now the 3rd course, which is salad, the vegetarian portion of the meal. The first and second courses of Americans have already been gobbled up, and because the True Believers were not the ones being feasted upon, it was fine with them. They remind me of the Russian peasant who, when told that he was to receive a reward from the Commissar, showed absolutely no interest in his prize. The first and only words out of his mouth were: “But what is my neighbor getting?”


The main course, or entrée for the more cultivated among us, is now in the process of being carved up, meaning that we are all in this mess together, but, I caution and I stress, not equally or to the same degree. Some Americans had this debacle foisted upon them; some went for it, swiftly, blindly, foolishly, and ecstatically, as if the mystic portal had opened and nirvana awaited them; and some were ghoulishly calculating, conniving, and chilling in their contempt for their country while their greedy bellies expected only the spoils of victory, and they never reckoned with the truth that selfish people always get what they deserve.


There ought to be several Nights of the Long Knives, but since America is the compassionate country, appetizer knives will be used. Unfortunately, they will be grotesquely unsuitable for the job at hand, having been made in China. But the Chinese are enjoying the show! The Americans offer such great fare! I’m sure the Chinese will make bootleg copies and haul in more millions of our junk dollars.


I do ponder what, or rather who, dessert will be.


I think that the U.S. Postal Service has a unique opportunity here to get back into the black. I offer a modest proposal: issue a half-price stamp and watch the paper mail come flying in. Of course, there is the fertile possibility of snooping through the mail, à la Vichy, but that invasion of privacy is a long-standing tradition for any government agency. It’s this new-fangled ferreting of phone numbers that has sent libertarians and brave U.S. Senators to the U.S. Constitution to publicly display the innards of the Fourth Amendment. The bowels of the Bill of Rights are getting quite a workout!


I’ve taken to greeting Google whenever I begin an email, especially one that is of a political or opinion-based nature. It’s the least that I can do for them. As for America, to paraphrase Nathan Hale, I regret that I have but one phone number to give to my country. But I’ve always had an aversion to phones and an affection for knives.


Ya live, ya learn. Otherwise, ya eat your own.