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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Please, be careful.

I might have been on TV today, maybe.  I was driving to work this morning, and while taking the ramp onto the freeway that delivers commuters downtown I noticed an odd looking apparatus on top of a car in the other lane and several hundred feet in front of me.

My only option, accelerate, pass, and inspect this car, it had decals that from a distance were illegible, the whole thing was intriguing.  Passing the car at about 60 miles an hour provided enough opportunity to examine the device on the car as well as some of the stickers.  It was some sort of square cube, mounted on a tall stand and it had a sign that said "LIVE" and the car was tattooed with the identification and call letters of the local affiliate of one of the national networks.

It must be a camera, and it has to be part of the traffic report, and it must be some sort of "live look at traffic conditions" and I might have been on camera, even for just a moment or so.  Cool!  Then I remembered that my hair was such a mop of unmanageable, hideous, tangles that I just kind of left it, and it had been a couple of days since the last shave, and my shirt has a slight tear, and oh my what a mess.  No worries, I wasn't doing anything embarrassing.  So, that was good, but, it brought back some memories.

One time, long ago, I was watching a Monday Night Football game.  This game was so long ago that the announcers were "Gifted" Frank Gifford, "Dandy" Don Meredith, and Howard "the Mouth" Cosell.  Yes, I am that old.  The television camera would scan the crowd, as they still do, and settled on interesting, or attractive people.  Eventually, it settled on a woman, elegantly dressed, with shining, beautiful, flowing hair, a woman of such exquisite beauty she seemed the perfect counterpoint to the brutality of the game.  She looked the picture of taste, class, and grace.  And then she put her finger in her nose, right there on national television.  Frank Gifford proved his "gift' extended beyond the field when he said "almost perfect," as the camera hastily moved away from the woman.  

My brief encounter with potential TV stardom and the potentially disastrous consequences of uncombed hair and a scruffy looking beard left me thinking of that woman, and what had happened to her.  Had that one brief indiscretion changed her life?  Was she overlooked for potential promotions, was she denied jobs modeling fashion wear, did her husband leave her?  Did that one mistimed simple act cost her a happy life?  Probably not, there was no YouTube then, no social media to spread this picture all over the world.  Today, if a person were caught on camera doing something like that, it would be everywhere.  She would have become an internet sensation.

In the novel "1984" George Orwell posited that the government would become so powerful, and all encompassing, that it would intrude into every corner of life,  "Big Brother" would watch every move, and swoop in at the slightest provocation, whisking an offender away and threatening to let rats eat their face off.  Orwell was half right, he foresaw the constant observation, and the encroachments on privacy and freedom.  But, he had no way of knowing about government incompetence, the sequester, and furlough days, and the constant, endless, whining sound coming from the nations capitol.  But, the intrusion is still there, and as a citizen you need to exercise great caution, one wrong move and your life could be ruined.  To paraphrase the Great Swamp Philosopher, Pogo "we have met Big Brother, and they are us."  Don't worry, I have your back.