now this is cool

Some years ago, maybe even months ago, I would never have written this post you’re about to read.

I feared technology rather than focussed on its potential.

I’m currently staying near Dublin, in the house of real and beautiful friends.  I rented a car; cost me too much; will negotiate better next time round for sure.  But the car is absolutely gorgeous: a Hyundai Tucson 2016.  

The gearbox and engine are generous souls: this is just as well, as I was unaccustomed to a manual gearbox and had to be as ballsy as I could as, with due caution but also fairly fearlessly, I rapidly remembered the lessons of my manual-gearboxed driving from a few years ago.

The car is frankly fabulous: airco, satnav, huge boot, gorgeous interior, silent as a church on a joyful day.

But the very best thing is the service which the hire-car company provides: they track where you go with GPS, but also magically track your driving skills as well.  They do this so they can then send you a daily email showing your progress as you improve or not against a Smooth Driving Index they’ve engineered.

Last year I would have been horrified.  This year I am enchanted.  Is this a sign of my utter capitulation to the forces of privacy invasion – or one piece of evidence of my growing happiness and wellbeing?

I don’t think the former.  I do think the latter.  I am falling in love with technology again.  And maybe in the absence of a flesh-and-blood lover I could touch and love and distract myself with, tech is doing its biz for me even faster than it would’ve!

why sex is so important and yet no one cares

In the past, we didn’t have to worry about our identities.

In a way, the state, companies and other orgs were simply inefficient about collecting the intel.

That’s constructively inefficient.  That’s comfortingly inefficient.

Inefficient to the extent that they allowed us to breathe.

Nowadays, identity is just in the subset of what we need to worry about.  The real caballo de batalla, as the Spanish would say, is sex.

Cameron, the people who advise him, and probably most of the opposition parties here in Britain too, are looking to invade our right to sex.  They want to outlaw everything we’ve grown up expecting, as full-grown adults in a country of liberal freedoms.

The only sex they seem to be capable of allowing is that which involves powerful people hurting – or even killing – the weaker amongst us.  That sort of sex, they’re happy enough – it seems – to permit.

There was a time, before identities became a subset of everything we should now be worried about, that we didn’t even think about this thing I’m calling sex.  It was just there; it was just a part of what we were; it was just … well … like grass which was green and skies which were gloriously blue.

The furniture of humanity.  The furniture of being human.

Now that sex is in the cross-hairs of our government, now that our government is (to coin a phrase) weaponising sex, we are poorly equipped to defend ourselves against the dialectic of the sex-invaders.

We were so used, in the past, to what they are now taking away from us that we actually find it impossible to understand, any more, exactly how they’re taking it away.

So when Cameron or whoever bleats on about needing to invade our sex, we kind of dismiss the rhetoric and just carry on as we were.

Hoping against hope that at the end of the decade sex will still be there.

In some magical way.

In some mystical process.

Through the benevolence of those who are anything but benevolent.

*

In essence, what’s happened is we’ve forgotten precisely what we’ve lost because, in that past I refer you to, we never had to really fight for it.

So.

Anyways.

A final point I’d like to make.

If, in the title and content of today’s post, I’d written the word “privacy” instead of the word “sex”, would you have read it?  I don’t think so.

And therein lies – and ends – the lesson for this cold and blustery morn.

what a difference a decade makes

A couple of weeks ago I password-protected an eight-year-old blogsite of mine.  Around a hundred of its most recent posts (except the very most recent one of all) will still, I expect, be available via RSS.  About that, there is little I can do.

I assume, since on occasions it was quite a self-revelatory place, some will have thought this is because I have something to hide.

This may be true – in the sense that I would prefer some things not to have happened to me ever, prefer some things not to have required a retelling; but in reality, I think it has more to do with:

  1. my needing to self-reveal in a different context (this one, on this blogsite) and in a different way (this way, with a more dispassionate discourse); and
  2. a simple desire for a wider renewal.

Certainly not a sense of shame about my previous perceptions of my life events.

I always used to think the grandest virtue of the best Internet was that intent to permanence which good linking and link maintenance promoted.

I first started blogging in 2002 or 2003, I think it was; I picked up again with simple HTML pages in about 2004 for a time, having removed the original blog from the web; I then got to the point where I also felt obliged to remove the HTML blog from the web, sadly (maybe – or maybe not) without keeping a record of its content.

All very poor web practice, or so I thought at the time.  A poor web practice I felt a bit ashamed of.

I then began, first on Blogger and – latterly – self-hosted WordPress, my third incarnation which kickstarted in 2006.  I’m not currently intending to get rid of it – thus the password-protection; but I am coming to the conclusion it belongs, after fits of leaving it and then returning incompletely, in the past.

I read, recently, one of the grandest virtues of the Internet – more accurately here, the worldwide web – was not its permanence but actually its impermanence.  Almost as if the only way to properly rise from hyperlinked ashes ever was to burn the ether’s undergrowth first.  And all this time, there we were, believing how important it was not to be creating broken links along the way.

Perhaps for government services it remains important not to be doing so.

But for intellectual growth and renewal of individuals like myself, I’m coming to quite a different conclusion.

I was asked, this evening, on the selfsame subject of this so-called Internet, if it was normal to go around telling friends and acquaintances about one’s new relationship statuses and so forth.

Of course it was, I replied.

I suggested it was now very difficult to be a private being in any context.

It was suggested back to me that most people live rather uninteresting lives – that is to say, not uninteresting in themselves but of little interest to the important amongst us.

This is true.

And it is reflected in social media and networks.  If you want to post pictures of cats, of takeaway coffee, of big English breakfasts, of break-ups and drunken nights-out, of photos of empty profundities, of hollow quotes and their unsurprising origins, of cute offspring doing stuff with kitchen appliances … well, all the aforementioned things type you as normal.  They’re also much liked on these social media and networks.

So if they’re liked so much, they must be normal, right?

But woe betide anyone, like myself for example, who’d like to pursue a different kind of self-revelation: of personal honesty; of intellectual discovery; of a curious searching and moulding of multiple trains of thought.

Take an idea and see where it leads, in the hope that the next idea or ten down the line might be worth it.

If you don’t start, you’ll never get there.  That’s the thing about journeys.

And they don’t, always, have their destinations written on them when you buy the ticket.

It’s not better than the cats, mind.  Cats with daft faces, doing daft things, make people smile a lot – even laugh out loud.

Making people smile – making them laugh out loud – is good for society.  As long as such people don’t smile at but smile with each other.

OK.  So my kind of self-revelation – the stuff which talks about conversations I’ve had or thoughts I’ve come up with or other stuff which sets me down as, maybe, a bit of an insufferable bore (as well as a leaky-colander type) – isn’t your kind all the time.  But I can only see a coffee-franchised takeout cup of coffee so many times, you know.

I’m sure it’s the same for you too, if you think about it.

That kind of stuff, in the kind of short lifetime we barely own, doesn’t really fill me with too much joy.

And that’s what this journey without too much of a destination-laden ticket should really be about, surely.

We should pursue joy with as much effort as we can.  If I password-protect a blogsite with thousands of links, into and out of, it’s not only to hide stuff I no longer wish to talk about.  It’s also to remind myself that renewal is the game of life; that ashes are needed in order that we might rise again.

In fact, neither is it even the brutal act of virtual vandalism we might once have considered it a while ago, in other, quite different, moments – but, instead, a deliberate attempt to maintain faith in a previous time of now lesser utility.

At the same time as we try to escape the limitations of writing oneself down.

Oh.

One more thing.  As with this blogsite, few people ended up reading the one I started in 2006.  But there I did aim to fix the century.

Here, I only aim to help us understand our destination.

There’s a difference.

The difference lies in a decade, rather wasted.