Throwback Thursday: Big Brother is Watching 9/2013

” I always feel like somebody’s watching me” Rockwell

 

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Beware! Big Brother may be watching You!

Ever get that creepy feeling when you’re out and about that you’re being watched. You take a careful look around but see no one, still, you can’t shake the feeling that someone or something is watching you.                                                           Chances are, you may right. Indeed, someone may be watching.

 

 

As more and more cities across the nation install complex surveillance systems that  employ a network of cameras to monitor city streets and make them safer for you and me, there’s a very good chance you’re every move is being monitored back at police central, where one or more officers are patrolling the city via camera. No more squad car for these watchful observers, just good vision, and a keen eye. They do their patrolling in a surveillance room where video monitors cover the walls. In some instances, the officers can not only see you, but they can also speak to you as well, like the voice of God in the night!

As is always the case there are those who support this technological approach to policing and there are those who believe it has gone too far and infringes on our right to privacy. We’ve all seen nightly news stories where the police pull video from store fronts, parking lots, banks, traffic cams, etc, near the scene of a crime and are able to piece together a scenerio of what occurred or get a photo of suspects or their vehicle. There’s no doubt that cameras are an asset in fighting crime.

But when is enough enough?  The City of Redlands has been in the news lately because of their widespread use of cameras throughout the city and also a surveillance plane eye in the sky. It has been such a successful program that the Redlands School District will soon be installing cameras at many of their school sites. Again, there are those who are for and those against.   I have mixed feelings. I can see having cameras in high-crime areas or areas susceptible to criminal activity, even school sites where tagging and vandalism occurs, is an acceptable use of surveillance, but I don’t see the need for a camera on every corner, every storefront, or every neighborhood. What next? our homes, you know to quell domestic violence or disturbances? How can we be assured it won’t go that far?

In 1949 writer George Orwell gave us a rather bleak view of the future in his science fiction novel “1984.” In it, he envisioned a society in 1984 as high-tech, computerized, dehumanized and constantly under the surveillance of big government or as he tells it under the ever watchful eye of “Big Brother.” Well, it may be twenty-seven years late, but it looks like his vision has finally arrived, at least part of it anyway. In Orwell’s novel, your public life is monitored by thousands of cameras posted throughout the city, while your private life is monitored by your “Telescreen” a large flat screen teleceiver that broadcasts programs as well as transmits video images. You never know when Big Brother is watching.

In addition, we have surely become the hi-tech society he foresaw.  The evidence is everywhere, one inch thin HDTV, with screen sizes up to 152 inches wide, smartphones, laptop computers, wi-fi and a host of wireless devices and services. We are a connected society, user-friendliness has become a way of life for most of us.

Has Orwell’s 1984 become a reality? It’s obvious that many Orwellian elements are in play right now. There are more things he writes about that are damn close to being a reality. His concept of perpetual war, a war with no clear ending conditions or a cold war sounds familiar. Are psychological surveillance, mind control, thought crimes and the thought police, in our near future as well? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what our future holds. Who knows the rest of 1984 may be just around the corner. So the next time you’re out and about, better be careful and play by the rules. Big Brother may have his eye on you…

Just a thought

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“The Secret of Her Years” HBD Mom!

Today 9/13 is always a very reflective day for me. It’s my mom’s birthday. She would have been ** years old! Oh, I’d really like to tell you how old she would be but I can’t for fear that she might come back to seek retribution. You see she was always very secretive about her age. She told no one. When asked she would usually say “over 21” or “old enough to know better.” You see, mom was blessed with a very youthful appearance. Several times when I was a teen and we were out together she was mistaken for my older sister!  She loved it!

Yes, mom went to great lengths to keep her age a secret. I remember once when I was in the fourth grade she was driving my sister and me to school and we were running late. She was driving pretty fast when out of nowhere a policeman appeared and pulled us over. I remember him telling her that he’d been a street over and heard our cars exhaust system as she accelerated so he decided he’d better check it out. He wrote her up for speeding and while in the process of writing the ticket discovered that my mom had scratched out her date of birth on her license, which is against the law, so in addition to the speeding ticket, he also got her for defacing her driver’s license. She never did tell him her age though! No way.

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that mom would be in her late 80’s  give or take a few years. I think she’d be okay with that, at least I hope so, if not she may be back to haunt me, but that’s okay. Yeah, I sure was missing her.  While writing this I was listening to a compilation playlist on my Ipod and I was a bit surprised when the Moody Blues ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ started playing.  It was one of my mom’s favorite songs. We even played it at her funeral service nearly 26 years ago. How fitting is that? She must have been near.

I never really understood why my mom made such a big deal about keeping her age a secret. She was certainly determined. Like so many people these days I know the concept of growing old troubled her. But hell, it’s only a number for God sake! You can’t hold back time so get over it already! Learn to embrace your age and grow old gracefully! It’s all just a part of the trip!  Remember, you’re only as old as you feel, or so they say.

In some cultures, the elderly are respected and honored for the wisdom of their years, but in our culture, the elderly are often seen as a nuisance and taken for granted. They seem to become less and less significant with each passing year until they finally pass away or become permanent residents of  retirement homes and long term care facilities or if they’re really lucky maybe they’ll wind up at the home of one of their children or maybe they’ll be passed around from month to month among all the children, where they become built in babysitters and the TV becomes their best friend and constant companion. I know this isn’t always the case, but it happens more often than you know.

Yeah, it’s the grand paradox of our time, when you’re young you want to be older, when you’re old you long to be young. Some people do everything in their power to maintain a youthful appearance. Cosmetic firms, surgeons, and laser aesthetic centers are making a fortune on the vanity of our aging generation. It’s ridiculous, they all want to look their best up until they’re laid to rest.

It reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit from back in the mid-eighties called ‘Fernando’s Hideaway.” In it, Billy Crystal does a terrific Fernando Lamas impression as a young looking, suave and charming talk show host. He greeted each guest with a “You look maaavelous, absolutely maaavelous!” His credo, which he shared with everyone was “It’s always better to look good than to feel good.”  A credo that is wholly appropriate today among our aging populous. I think everyone should learn to embrace their age and embrace life! There’s a certain honor in living a long life. Forget the vanity and simply thank God for each and every day He gives you.

My mom’s last birthday celebration! September 13, 1991

 

I wish my mom could have had a longer life, but that wasn’t part of the plan. If she was still alive I’m sure she would still be keeping the secret of her years. She was a very determined woman!  She was so intent on keeping her secret that she literally took it to her grave. You see her grave marker has no date of birth on it, only the date of her departure. Gotta love her tenacity!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Love you

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9/11: Remember

untitledToday marks the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America. Like the December 7th, 1941, surprise attack by the Japanese on Peal Harbor, the tragedy of 9/11/01 will live on in infamy. The attack on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC resulted in  2997 deaths the worst single terrorist attack in history. It was the first time terrorist took over passenger jets and deliberately flew them into buildings. It was also the first time this type of terrorist attack had ever been broadcast live on television.

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WTC Tower One after impact

I will never forget the morning of 9/11/01.  I was still in bed when my wife called me around 5:50 to tell me that she had just heard that a passenger plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I immediately switched on the TV and was shocked to see tower one of the World Trade Center aflame. I watched in awe as the newsman explained that a plane had crashed into the building. Less than fifteen minutes later a second plane plowed into the second tower.

 

flight-175-just-before-impacting-the-south-tower-300x201-1I watched in total disbelief.  It was surreal. Both towers, though still standing tall, were severally damaged and on fire, the black smoke pouring from them spread across the sky. As I sat there, the towers, symbols of America at her best, suddenly reminded me of two mortally wounded giants, once proud guardians of the city, now casualties of a major terrorist attack.

9-11-fireball-at-towers1-300x230 (1)It was horrific! Images that will live with me forever. All I kept thinking was that America was under attack. Then less than a half hour later reports began coming in of a third plane headed for Washington. The attack wasn’t over! Soon it was announced that the plane had crashed into the Pentagon. and that a fourth plane was also in route to Washington. Jets were scrambled and in route to intercept, but before reaching its target the plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania, deliberately crashed by the hijackers after a group of passengers attempted to take back the plane. Modern day heroes.

11_september_2001_1-300x225Less than ten minutes before the heroics of the passengers on flight 93, the unbelievable happened. Tower one began its collapse. One moment it was there, the next it was gone, reduced to a pile of smoking rubble! I couldn’t believe my eyes! But by the fifth or sixth replay there was no denying the tower was gone. A few minutes later the second tower also collapsed.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I was in a severe state of shock like every other American who viewed their collapse. How could this be happening? How could terrorist have pulled off such a massive assault on the U.S.?  I felt sick and shivery, like someone had knocked the wind out of me. And yes I cried. You see, just the year before we had been to New York City and been up to the observatory on 1o2nd floor of the south tower. Having been to the WTC somehow made the 9/11 attack even more personal. I kept thinking “Oh my God! I was there, I was there!”

We’d gone to Clifton Park near Albany to visit my cousins and took the train into the city for a one day whirlwind tour. We went to Time Square, Park Avenue and Central Park to see Strawberry Fields. From there we walked to the Dakota Apartments so I could see where John Lennon had lived and been slain. We then made our way to the World Trade Center. I remember standing outside the towers gazing up at these magnificent giants!

My view looking up at Tower One WTC

My view looking up at Tower One WTC

Earlier we had talked about going out to the Statue of Liberty but Tom, my cousins husband, wanted to go up to the observatory. They’d lived in New York nearly ten years and never been. We stood there talking about what to do. If we did the observatory we probably wouldn’t make it to the Statue of Liberty. I was okay with that, but for some reason my cousin seemed a bit reluctant. I will never forget Tom saying to my cousin, “Come on Doreen, we’re here now, I say we go on up, it could be a once in a lifetime thing!” No truer words were ever spoken. It was so prophetic.

View from WTC

View from WTC

After a brief discussion we all went up to the observatory 102 floors up. It was quite a ride! I’m glad we decided on the WTC. It was truly an awesome experience! We never did make it out to Lady Liberty or the Empire State Building, but we got to see them from the top of the World Trade Center and they looked incredible from the observatory!

 

"Sometimes Freedom Hurts"

“Sometimes Freedom Hurts”

I’ll never forget my visit to the World Trade Center, just as I’ll never forget the events of 9/11. Please take a moment today to honor the memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, those unsuspecting souls who went to work that morning expecting nothing more than the usual, those who worked at the WTC, the airline passengers and crew, the heroic firemen, police officers and rescue workers who gave their lives to save others. Remember these innocent victims of our fight for freedom. Thy died for the greater good. Say a prayer for them and the families left behind.

Honor their memory, Today and always…

Remember

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