Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Family tree sprouting new branches.

Last year I got an email from a young gent in Russia. He appears to be part of a branch of our family tree that we had lost track of since my father's family's return from exile to Siberia way back in the early years of the last century. Yesterday, I got an email from a man and his wife in Germany with the same surname as ours. He appears to have a connection with an uncle of mine who was killed in Europe in World War II. In both cases, there are a lot of gaps that we are trying to sort out, but with a surname as unusual as mine there has to be a connection somewhere, even if it isn't exactly where we think it is.

Whenever something like this happens, I can't help but be astounded at the technological marvels we enjoy. The World Wide Web, email, instant messaging, video conferencing, affordable desk-top computers, software to do everything but groom your cat and take your dog for a walk are but a few things that didn't exist just three decades or so ago. These inventions have been a tremendous boon to us all, at least so far as they are being used constructively and productively. There are, of course, many abuses possible with these inventions and there are miscreants everywhere who can't wait to create new ways of fleecing us of our assets or otherwise complicating our lives. Spammers, for instance. Phishers. Virus programmers. Those are just some of the more obvious bozos that we could really do without.

What scares me more is how our governments put these powerful new tools to work. Monitoring and controlling us all is easier than ever. Cameras hooked up to computers are everywhere. Our telephone calls and emails are never safe from being monitored. In Canada, we don't have quite the surveillance-obsessed atmosphere that is rife in the U.S., at least not yet, but when it comes, who is going to fight against it?

We are a world of pussies. We accede to every official demand in the name of security and safety. Balance is gone. We are very much living George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four, but no-one cares. In fact, ask the teenager in your home if he or she has ever heard of that book. I doubt it.

I love today's technology. I don't always like the way it is being used or the potential it holds to enslave us completely.


  1. Just catching up on your postings now after two weeks of "off-the-grid" in its most primitive form. All delightfully wise observations on your part as usual.

    I, too, have been blessed with new and loving family since the advent of the internet and we relished in the sleuth work which eventually connected us firmly. You will love that chase, too!

    Why are people like lemmings, why can't they see the writing that history and wise men have put on the wall before them? We may never understand that leaning and perhaps we might drive ourselves mad in trying to do so. Perhaps it is better to just sigh deeply with great regret at such times for so few have minds willing to think for themselves.

  2. 1984 seems to be running wild in the U.S.A., also.
    "Senate Approves Expansion of Warrantless Surveillance

    On Friday night the Senate voted to expand warrantless intelligence surveillance of international communications -- including communications between people in the United States and people abroad. The Senate measure, which could soon be passed by the House, authorizes even broader warrantless surveillance than that permitted under the warrantless surveillance program the President approved after September 11, 2001. CDT opposes the measure, which badly weakens the law protecting innocent Americans from having their privacy violated by government dragnets.
    August 04, 2007"
    Our governments seem to have brought this upon themselves. One cannot be all to every individual on the planet. When fear reigns supreme we all lose.
    To partially answer lin, individuals are brilliant, it is people who are ignorant. Carry the torch where ever and when ever you can.

  3. I envy you sometimes, Lin, being out in the middle of nowhere. Some of the stuff that goes on around us makes me sick. Catmoves makes the point that individually we are what we should be. Collectively, we can't seem to do anything right.