Wards of the State – Data Collection v. Privacy

Experimental File October 2013

In researching for conspiracy theories, there seems to be no end. Using the theories as a story basis is hardly new, but one wonders if it is fiction any more. And of the old joke question about paranoia, “are you still paranoid If it’s true?” seems less funny these days. My driving was careful on the morning commute, yet while breaking to avoid a crash ahead, hot coffee spilled out of the loose travel mug lid. The odor of the splattered coffee was wonderful as I waited for the traffic to clear. In the predawn light during the wait, I turned up the radio volume. A caller was explaining that she turned off her telephone’s GPS app so she could not be tracked. The radio host explained to her that it really doesn’t matter if it’s off, that you can be located anyway. She was surprised and did not know that.
In the news and talk shows these past few days there have been the various takes on the “data collection” by various entities. Whether they are government types of the IRS, NSA, HUD, FHA, Social Security or in the private sector of your doctor’s office, employer, mortgage companies, telephone companies, credit card companies, social media companies, or search engine entities such as Google, Yahoo, or others. This morning was a statement from one media personality that “it is a done deal.” This being, or meaning, that the entire country if, not global, is already locked into the culture of the electronic technology and all the communication that is related in storage of the records and information. It is only a matter of how the data is controlled, and who controls it.
A year ago I had a frank discussion with one of my doctors. Out of respect for privacy, I won’t name the physician. There was a change in the doctor’s office system. I asked if it was because of the new regulations. The answer was partly yes. I mentioned then in the conversation, also the fact that a well known tax preparing company now has questions about one’s medical insurance that is part of the new IRS regulations as part of the Affordable Health Act. The doctor said he had not heard of that. I then asked the doctor if he didn’t think that the new regulations violated the federal HIPPA regulations, which are supposed to be in place to guard medical privacy. There was a moment of silence, and then he said, “I guess we all will no longer have that privacy.” I found the doctor’s comment disturbing. But, after today, I think I am the one that is the more naïve. The NSA thing was never news to me after 1986. But, the massive record sharing by entities of our telephone communication, banks, government, then also by the largest search engine companies tied to government agencies, is …. Please excuse the cliché …. “mind boggling.”
Usually I have links in these pieces. Just, Google or Yahoo any of the above items …… hah ……………
I sometimes am afraid to search some issues in my novel research. But, too, if it’s a “done deal” what more harm can be done? One might ask where it will all lead or end. But, the concern over conspiracies, “urban legends” nonsense, and any other movies and TV crap about any of this seems trivial, trite, and too late. Are we all to become “wards of the state?” Do you like this? Is this a done deal?
Timothy J. Desmond
Blog at: https://timdesmondblog.wordpress.com
Amazon author page at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00694KQQO
Writing at: http://timothydesmond.wordpress.com
Art at: http://artbydesmond.wordpress.com

Vanity Events Questioned

Art - cover For Thou Art With Me

Vanity Event – This was a term I had not heard of or read until this year. More than one blog author had brought up the term. And as I tried to go back and find the original blogger where I read it, I could not find it. As I pondered the various times that I had observed other author’s signing events in the past, it was a reminder that many were not national celebrities. At my local Barnes and Noble there was the occasional line out the door and around the block for a crime witness’s nonfiction book. That book and author had national network interviews on the morning shows. And there were other book signing tours that were advertised by other nationally known writers. Some of those were also nonfiction political or history works from retired news anchors.
From my own experience, in 2005, I assumed it was the thing to do. I had to arrange things myself and had several signing events. The first three were all in independent bookstores. Borders would not do one because of my publisher. Barnes did, the local one and two other Barnes & Noble stores had arranged events, the furthest one ninety minutes north of our area. Another Barnes two hours to the south would not give me an event.
I had a layover in DFW airport in 2007. There was a gentleman there with a table of his books setup in front of one of the book shops. There was nobody stopping to talk with him or buy his signed book as he stood there watching travelers walk by. I knew what that felt like. At many of my events, I had set up my table and book cover posters, and my own events at air museums, Civil War reenactments, or other meetings. Some of the passersby avoided me like the plague. Once at a Barnes, across the way from my table was the island of books with the sign over the top which read “New Fiction.” There were fifty hardbound titles in neat stacks. I did not recognize any author of those books. Nobody was stopping to pick any of those books up either. It was a revelation. What was I doing there? I must have been out of my mind.
Blogger Wendy Lawton at http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/i-dont-get-it/ brings all this up in questioning why publishers don’t market a certain way. She compares the marketing value of “friend events” to more worthwhile marketing exposure. The blog replies and discussion that follow her original post are worth reading.
Timothy J. Desmond
Tim’s Amazon author page at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00694KQQO
Blog at: https://timdesmondblog.wordpress.com
Writing site at: http://timsfiction-art.com
Art site at: http://artbydesmond.com