Tag Archives: Technology

$35 iNDIApad running Linux reveals iPad users pay for intellectual property

While MIT has been racing to design the world’s first $100 computer, India has performed an end-run at a third the price, and it’s a tablet no less. Running with open-source software, as genuine volks-werks will, the iNDIAPAD will reach third world schoolchildren for $35, developers at the India Institute of Science hope even as low as $10. Absent keypad and hand crank, but with camera, touchscreen and wireless. Which begs the question of course, what indispensable features drive Apple prices? Bill Gates earned his fortune on them. Patents.

Tea-Potty successfully test-fire Dumb Bomb, counters “Smart Bombs” nicely.

Remember the infamous Speech boycotted by whole School Districts including D-11 locally? The Hoam Skule parents, aided and abetted by the Tea-Party, in turn organized and funded by Fox News, combined to convince themselves that Education Is Satanic.
Frightened Tea-Baggers kept their kids from hearing the Zombie-Brainwashing message that educational excellence is a good thing.
In doing so, they set up a series of events that has led to among other school districts the Kansas City MO ISD closing half their schools, school closings are the Drug of Choice for the “conservatives” because quite simply, the only way they can hold any kind of political power is to Keep the People Ignorant. They remind me of the “Gone Tertiary” mobs in the movie “Omega Man”, led by a former (until they burned down every radio and TV station as “evil”) Rush Limbaugh think-alike named Matthias. With their torches and robes, burning down schools, libraries, museums, any form of culture and education, chanting “Evil! Evil! Evil! Evil!”
BUT… there is a bright side to this. As painful as it seems, they’re tearing their own Empire down. Already, after 8 years of Bush junior and 12 years of the Reagan/Bush Regime breaking down American Public Education into a 12 year Political Indoctrination session for each kiddo, the Pentagoons report that American kids who they wanted to recruit into the Murder Machine, aren’t qualified for it anymore.

They’re too fat, too lazy and too damn dumb.

The Fox OUTRAGE! Nation has dumbed itself into a corner. They want world-wide power, but the people they were counting on doing their fighting for them, (Because let’s face it, the NeoCons ain’t ever going to fight for their own gain, they have always counted on Other People to be stupid enough to do it for them and always will) got the necessary Political Indoctrination, where they’re Stupid Enough to believe that they’d be “fighting for Freedom”…

But it came at a price, they’re also too stupid to operate advanced weaponry. And fat and lazy. This according to the Pentagon.

It’s a major OOPSIE!! moment for the Right WingNuts. And that damage was accomplished BEFORE the mass hysteria inflamed by the Fox Propagandists. “Evil! Evil! Evil! Evil! Evil! Evil! Evil! Evil! ” They’ll drag American War Technology so low that they’ll never again be beaten down by Small Third World Nations like North Korea, VietNam, and Somalia. Because they’ll be too stupid to find their way over there and wouldn’t have enough High-Tech weaponry to make them feel safe enough to start the wars in the first place.

No more being humiliated by Barefoot Armies.

Technology, is it science or alchemy?

Symbols for X and YWoman and man? The X and Y for creating life? Actually, symbols for copper and iron, designated by the alchemists; curiously, X/Y to the Bronze Age overtaken by Iron, the supremacy of technology.

Our sixth-graders are learning that alchemy was a science that is no longer practiced. I must be oversimplifying the lesson, because it occurs to me that modern science, on the contrary, has become exclusively alchemist.

Not in its eastern spiritual form seeking enlightenment, nor the pre-Chemistry Islamic alchemy of Geber, but its indecorous European operation in pursuit of wealth-conjuring.

We call it applied science, it’s the academic denomination which gets the funding, whose patrons justify their investment in exchange for technological leaps, intent to deliver mankind from the laws of nature, by spinning straw into gold.

It feels no less heretical to say it. Because we know something of alchemy’s prospects.

As distinguished from the spiritual seekers, the European alchemists were charged by their monarchs to make gold. They had very little to go on, except that lead was a substance closely resembling gold, it had the heft and malleability, it needed only luster. Those kings inclined to invest in laboratories jumped into the technology race. The more their scientists came to understand the material properties, the closer it seemed they got. Eventually of course we can all see on the Periodic Table that the alchemists had only to nudge Pb just a couple of frames over. But now we understand elements are as intractable as prime numbers.

In their early grasping at straws, the alchemists figured the seven heavenly bodies which moved across the stars, might have an influence over the metals they hoped to manipulate. Maybe not so strangely, they were never closer to the truth.

No, and not even.

A Wiki-tangent: the seven celestial objects visible to the ancients already held influence over the days of the week. They were, in order of proximity to the Earth from farthest to nearest: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, and the moon. The Romans believed that these beings kept watch over the Earth in hourly turns, repeating in cycles of seven. Thus the English days of the week are named for which god/planet took the first hour that day, starting with Saturn’s day, Sunday, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus (we substituted their Norse god counterparts: Tiw, Wodan, Thor and Frigg).

Alchemy symbols for the metal

The celestial bodies were associated by many cultures with the classic elements, earth, fire, water, air. When the alchemists correlated the planets to the known metallic elements, the sun became gold; the moon, silver; Mercury, itself; Venus, copper; Mars, iron; Jupiter, tin; and Saturn, lead. Interesting alignment isn’t it? Lead and tin seemed the choicest starting blocks from which to morph a precious metal, but astronomically, they were the furthest away.

The answer was literally in the stars, and could have saved a lot of trouble.

Eventually man learned that he couldn’t change the elements. Since then, the gold-from-lead alchemist has gone the way of the druid. But what of today’s wealth-from-ether scientists? How is man’s presumption to master Gaia any less foolish than the gibberish of the alchemists?

I wonder where modern man should be looking for his best clues to scientific advances. For all we enhance our measure of the known world, progress seems to lead us further from a holistic understanding. Mankind’s earliest wisdom might lack for technological remedies, but may already have the answers to what will be sustainable.

Eavesdropping on a tree in the forest

Moon over clock tower Neufreistadt SLNEUFREISTADT, SL- Wandering a little in Neufreistad last night I came upon a chain hanging from a clock tower. Pulling it would ring a bell far above. It was night in Second Life, the moon and I were alone in the NFS sim, mine the only avatar even in the surrounding sims. The obvious question arose, if I were to ring this bell with no one around, would anyone hear it?

Do I know enough to say? A sim owner or manager, that is to say the person who owns that virtual estate or the person given authority to run it, can monitor SL activity without being online. They have a bird’s eye view, or so I understand, an extrasensory perception relating to the realm for which they are responsible. Ordinary users can see and hear what’s in our vicinity, and can sharpen our sight depending on how lifelike we want our faculties. (actually we can eavesdrop too, with virtual bugs to spy on virtual happenings.) Sim admins have meta power.

Above them, Linden Labs, the real world laboratory which houses Second Life, oversees the mechanics of their virtual creation. Their view is that of lab technician over the maze, watching the mouse try to find the cheese, omnipresent and unobserved if only because of their irrelevance to the reality below.

I cannot say whether any are listening, but I do know that they could. Such is the unexplored, but not indefinite world of virtual reality. You may not have been there before, but someone has, and certainly someone tends to it and has an interest in checking in. And that’s not even to consider the NSA.

Is there a real world anymore where you can act on a thought unobserved? With Google Earth, as an example of surreptitious satellites, could a tree fall, anymore, unheard? Can you travel in your car, sit in your room, whisper out of earshot of your cellphone, and feel you have privacy?

In cyberspace, surveillance is inescapable. But in the virtual dimension, whose landscape is it that’s being watched? Does the virtual world exist on your computer screen as much as it lies your head? From which are the spooks reporting?

Post-dead canoeist found on Google Pics

How did they trip up the Hartlepool canoeist who paddled out to sea five years ago, leaving his widow with life insurance money, only to surface this week in a London police station claiming amnesia? A snapshot of John Darwin and his wife in their new Panamanian condo, confronted with which his wife confessed “well it explains a lot, doesn’t it?”
How the photo came to light is an inspiration to all amateur internet sleuths. An ordinary UK housewife googled John and Anne in Panama. Google Images came p with the picture on the real estate website of their Panamanian broker. Try this at home!

Synergy to the Nth, where N is negative

Lego Star Wars for the WiiA miracle of corporate cross pollination. What have we here? Lego Group cum Lucas Arts cum Nintendo? We might have celebrated this as synergy if the product didn’t look like hillbilly inbreeding. Computer animation can do no better than smiley faces? If there will be a look that defines this decade, it will be featureless Playmobil and thumb people.
The data processing adage says: garbage in, garbage out. Multiplicative “synergy” has been the sales pitch for corporate mergers and collusions, but the less heralded consequence of sum greater than its parts still holds: crap times crap equals big crap.

The US, determined to lie big once again

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Monday brushed aside the UN nuclear watchdog agency chief’s warning that there was no proof Iran seeks atomic weapons, and invited him to stay out of diplomacy with Tehran. Report continues

How is it that a country whose government is itself determined to turn to nuclear power to meet its own energy needs in these times of declining oil availability, impugns the motives of other countries taking the same action? That is what the US is doing with its Big Lie technique of claiming that Iran is developing nuclear weapons instead of just turning toward using nuclear plants to generate electricity.

Both countries need to work together to peacefully develop other forms of energy generation instead of using nuclear power.

War on terror comes full circle

President Bush & Co make much ado about staying the course in Iraq because he’d rather fight them there than fight them at here at home. What remains unclarified is that we are fighting them here already.

Since the advent of the Predator drone, and now the much deadlier Reaper, the US has military personnel, at home, looking into video monitors, controlling the remote robotic killing machines, and pulling the trigger. They are fighting the war from here.

How is that different from NORAD monitoring our missile defenses, or Buckley eavesdropping on everyone? Not much perhaps, except that those are support services and not the front line. It means to me that if Joe Mohammed is under attack by our forces and the soldier looking down the barrel at him is sitting in Indian Springs, Nevada, the only way Mohammed can prevent from being fired upon is to address the machine gun nest in Nevada.

We’ve all seen the movie scene, a squadron is pinned down by a thorny and concealed enemy machine-gunner. A volunteer is sought to sneak up the ridge and lob a grenade into the enemy fortification. The mission is heralded as being sheer suicide, but somebody’s got to do it for our guys to move forward. In reality many posthumous Medals of Honor have been awarded for just that job.

Under international rules of engagement wouldn’t Mohammed’s recourse to target Nevada be justified? Our government certainly justifies doing it all the time from warships. We even justify large civilian casualties as collateral damage to our military imperatives. When they do it, it’ll be in self defense.

The drones fly too high for RPGs, the satellites are of course unreachable, the only link accessible is the control room pillbox, 30 miles outside Las Vegas. How surprising that security reports find that the American homeland is becoming a more likely target for “terrorists.”

George Bush and the US military have placed the American people in the direct line of fire. They have brought the battlefield home, at the same time claiming it’s what they want to prevent.

Coming soon to an airbase near you

Time to revisit this leaked C-130 targeting video of a US Afghan turkey shoot. With the Creech AFB remote Reapers, American snipers working electronically can now sit stateside, with YOU AS THEIR HUMAN SHIELD.

(The control room chatter remind me of an auction house, where spotters call out the hits in case the auctioneer is too busy to see them.)

What am I thinking, we could outsource this function to the lowest unprincipled bidder. If telecommunications can permit Pakistanis to sort US mail or take our fast food drive-through orders, why not let them do the killing on our video game consoles?

Comfortably Numb

lights on
Sitting in a puffy leather Barca-lounger, jacked full of Valium and Demerol, God Doctor enters the room. He squats down so that we are at eye level, introduces himself (as if I don’t know who he is..I’ve driven to Denver three times so far to see him), stares into my nearly blind eyes and says, “Did you take something or are your pupils always this huge?” Even in my half-drugged state I had the presence of mind to say, “I took a handful of ‘ludes before the surgery; I hope that was okay.” He stands up without a word and walks out of the room.

Shit. Here it comes. We are so sorry, Ms. Walden, but we can’t do your surgery. You are destined to stumble around, squinting, creating giant furrows in your brow that even Botox can’t touch, ignoring friends and family waving at you, generating hurt feelings and animosity everywhere you go. People! I am not unfriendly (okay, sometimes I am, but only to stupid and/or boring people and for that I won’t apologize). I am blind! I don’t see you. If I did….I might wave back. I really really might.

Fortunately, within moments, in comes a cute Asian scrub nurse in a blue surgical hair thing (I am wearing one too…which, I must say, totally proves my point that sexiness is very very very related to hair…more on this later). She takes me into a room, puts me under a huge frightening contraption which is going to make a completely computerized laser cut on my oh-so-thin cornea. THIS is the new technology. In the past, the corneal flap has been created by a blade and has been the source of nearly every resultant complication of laser surgery. The actual corneal correction has been done by laser. The cut…by a BLADE….like skinning a squirrel. This new technology is so precise….they are talking microns….MICRONS. Three MOTHER FUCKING MICRONS. Me likey the precision.

After this first step, I am nearly blind. Kind over-sized women gently guide me to another dark room, put me on yet another comfortable chaise, pillow under my knees so there is no pressure on my lower back. Let the correction begin! Here’s where it gets a bit sci-fi. A soothing voice narrates as I am experiencing Laserium…on drugs…like at CU-Boulder back in the day.

You will see a green light within a white circle ….. Is there anybody out there? ..Try to focus on the green light even when it disappears… There is no pain you are receiving ……Then you will see flashing red lights…..A distant ship floats on the horizon……..Try to focus on the red light. It will appear to move, but that is an illusion…..You are only coming through in waves……Very very good, Marie…halfway there……Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you say…..Now you will see a series of dots…keep looking straight ahead…very good, Marie….When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse….Almost there, Marie. Keep looking straight ahead….Out of the corner of my eye.…Very very good. Now we will move to the next eye…I tried to look but it was gone…Marie, shift your shoulders a little to the left….I cannot put my finger on.…Very good, Marie…now focus on the green light again… a child is born, the dream is gone….We are done…you can relax now, Marie….I have become comfortably numb.

Within minutes of beginning, I am back in my Barca-lounger, drinking Gatorade, feeling no pain. Cute Asian nurse comes in…sees me with my wild blond hair everywhere and says, “Oh! I didn’t think you would look like that!” I have no idea what any of this means…maybe she thought my features were so average that I should have a June Cleaver haircut…..can’t really contemplate the comment but I still think it proves that hair is an important part of a woman’s appearance.

Okay…so I am 2 days out. 20/20…..I got glasses in second grade…have struggled with vision my whole life. Have been told by countless opthamologists that I’m not a candidate……Thin corneas, large pupils, astigmatism, poor vision.

If anyone out there is similarly afflicted, Dr. Jon Dishler in Denver….he brought this technology to Colorado…he holds patents on many treatments…..He is internationally known for Intra-Lasik. Usually $4600 for both eyes…through August…because of his 25th anniversity….$3000 for both.

I am not his marketing gal…he doesn’t even know my name…I just know the struggles that I’ve had…and if you have complicated vision, or you know someone who does….let me share this gift with you. I am COMPLETELY AMAZED. And happy as heck.

Conspicuous accountancy

The General Accounting Office says they don’t have enough manpower to audit the Iraq reconstruction contracts. So much money has been spent, and so much of it has vaporized, that there isn’t staff enough to follow it.
I ask you, imagine the white-collar power to abscond with that loot!

Granted it takes less effort to bury a needle in a haystack than it takes to find it, but we are not talking about needles. If so much money missing, let’s look for contractors with accountancy muscle enough to have hauled it off. Like a polar bear gone missing at the zoo, at first it’s inexplicable, but we know it would take a pretty conspicuous baby stroller.

If you don’t have the accountants to trace billions of diverted funds, hire them from the contractors who have them. Lots of accountants were needed to devise, execute and cover-up the heist. Where are they?

When David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear, with mirrors it’s said, he didn’t do it alone. You and I could say we didn’t have the staff to go out there in the grass and find his un-magical cohorts. But Mr. Copperfield has the staff. Their resumes probably laud their skills for mirror holding.

The incomparable WET-11

Wireless Ethernet BridgeAre you thinking you’d like to have cable or DSL connectivity without the cable or phone bill? Do you live in close proximity to a number of wireless neighbors? Here’s what you could do: hook up a Linksys WET-11 bridge.
Plug the WET11 into your computer with a standard CAT-5 ethernet cable and you’re good to go. The bridge detects any available wireless network transparently. Your OS just acts like you’ve joined a LAN, but it’s the World Wide Area Network. Seamless.
ODDLY, the Linksys WET-11 is no longer on the market. Not so oddly, they are a hot item on Ebay.

Is the Wii not a technological marvel?

Social gamingI have to admit I love the Nintendo Wii. Christmas chatter around kids this year was all about the Wii. Parents are thrilled that it reintroduces aerobics to the couch potato genre, but I’m not convinced that Nintendo won’t have to develop a Wii game that simulates Wii play reduced again to minute finger motions, the original purpose of remotes. It will remain to be seen how long already fat players will endure having to stand and power through games that used to be [sedentary] child’s play.

Is the Wii innovative or simply primitive technology revisited? It’s got retro-rougher graphics, they say because it was rushed to market, but obviously it also suits the cheaper hardware. The next generation of games promised for this summer (to match the graphics standards of the 360 or PS3) will require a processor/bus/memory retrofit or my name’s not idiot savant. The Wii has got a gyro remote that requires swinging the thing around to get it to work, the way we used to do to aim the early infra-red remotes, usually while cussing and tapping on the buttons angrily.

Paired with the inferior graphic resolution, the gyro motions themselves are primitive. The player’s gyrations have to be stilted to match the limited options of the video motion. Put the kid outside with a real tennis racket and watch if he doesn’t twitch everything into the net. Unless it’s a whiffle ball perhaps.

Really I was thrilled to see the precision required by the Wii of the bowler’s address and delivery. It reminded me of learning to bowl myself. I remember I got the aiming down, I got the geometry, I got the concentration and the follow through, willing the ball away from the gutter. As I struggled with the haphazard quality of my play, I chanced to glance aside at some real grown up bowlers, unlike the hobbyist parents doing the teaching. These people had muscular arms and hurled the heavy black ball toward the poor immobile bowling pins. Bowling became a whole other ball game.

Is the Wii innovation or gimmick? Both I say. And I’ll not even raise the question with the kids because they love it. I love the Wii vs PS3 commercial, a spoof of the Mac vs PC ad. In effect I think the Wii is that all-American commercial innovation, a reinvention of the better mousetrap.

At least the Wii was cheap, if you discount the likelihood that everybody probably already had consoles and games to match. Now they need Wii games too. But what’s the value of getting the kids out of their bean bags?

Excuse your blind spot

Warning spotted on truck: “YOU ARE IN MY BLIND SPOT.”

I found myself on the lee side of a passing semi-truck the other day. On the passenger side of the cab, where the driver couldn’t see me, I read a sign in capital letters: You are in my blind spot.” Yeah?

It reminded me of the sign you used to see in restaurants above the coat racks, “not responsible for lost items.” Actually not true. If the hats and coats were not in line of sight from where the clientele were seated, the restaurant was completely responsible, the disclaimer not-withstanding. Wouldn’t we all love a t-shirt that read “not accountable for my actions.”

A great percentage of highway fatalities attest to the danger large 18-wheelers pose for passenger cars. To see a sticker admonish the smaller vehicle to take greater care is simply insulting. Mind your blind spot? How about you find a truck manufacturer to make your high-velocity lethal mass come equipped without a blind spot? Install a camera for instance. Make sure you can keep an eye on where you’re swinging that colossal hard body. Until you can get by without our assistance, stay off the road. You may not insist on ambulating with a blind spot mortal to others. A blind spot for the safety of civilians in automobiles is the blind spot you have.

And what of the signs: “this vehicle makes wide turns?” Out of your designated lane is what you mean. Can I put a sign on my car reserving my use of the left lane to make a right turn when I’m inclined? Hardly. Design a truck which plays well with others. You can start by abiding by the rules of the road, endangering no passersby. Use smaller trucks if you have to, but don’t give me your signs.

“Warning to trucks: driver of this vehicle protected by lawyer, give wide berth please. Thank you.”

Not getting wired

Ideas for iPod ads, GET WIRED campaign.
(Position of dark silhouette, with white iAppliance.)
Prone, with opium hukkah.
Seated, with TV wired in a straight line to eyes.
Corpse on mortician’s table, with embalming fluid.
Fetus in womb, with Coca Cola placenta.
Baby in crib, with Disney IV hanging from mobile.
Standing in disheveled suit, with concrete poured around feet.
Kid standing, with Playstation controller wired to large mounted gun.
Walking in crowd, all with cellphones linked to happy face satellite.
Sitting on bar stool, pants zipper wired to pole dancing stripper.
Pulling oxygen tank, with tube to Oxy cylinder shaped like cigarette.
Kid standing, with Playstation controller wired to nipples and crotch.
On knees, bent over, with [head in] toilet.
Peeing, with urine stream flowing into bottle of alcohol.
Kid sitting on floor, with tooth tied to doorknob.
Chalk outline on crosswalk, with iPod.
Line of dancers in identical position, all with iPods.
Queue of forlorn commuters heading into subway car, all with iPods.

All your cell phones are belong to us

Big brother is listeningThere it is. A district court judgement just out has revealed that the FBI used someone’s cell phone to eavesdrop on conversations held in proximity to the phone. Not ON the phone, in the vicinity of the phone. A cell phone can be tapped at will, used as a “roving bug” as law enforcement calls it, to record and transmit what it hears. The cell phone doesn’t even have to be on.

Software installed by the cellular service providers can turn any cell phone into a roving bug. We knew the phones transmitted our location, we knew the NSA was recording all cell phone conversations, did we know they can record whatever they want to hear from the microphone on your cell phone? And you carry that thing with you everywhere!

Many did know this actually, but now it’s on the record. Now YOU know. And what are you going to do about it? What can you do? The cellular communications companies are not going to act against the interest of the government. They cannot hobble the roving bug software without leaving a counter-measure for the NSA. But the answer may lie in your battery.

Your battery’s charge reflects the activity on your phone. If you are able to go two days on one charge and suddenly you can only go one day, with no change in the demands you’ve placed on the phone, maybe somebody else’s activity is using the extra juice. Perhaps a third party battery maker can design a battery which indicates when it is being tapped for power. You wouldn’t be able to prevent the eavesdropping, but you’d see when it was happening.

Pulling the battery out of your phone will disable eavesdropping, but defeats the utility of your cell phone. A sound-proof shroud to cover your phone might be more practical for times when YOU are not using it. But surveillance evasion, like using encryption such as Pretty Good Privacy, merely telegraphs that you might be a person of interest with something to hide.

First person shooter, nine years old

A nine year old kid recorded yelling at his mom, while shooting.
Are we breeding our little indiscriminate killers?
What you’ll see is a taped gaming session from the perspective of another player, who can overhear the audio of the kid’s microphone and who follows him to eavesdrop as he berates his mother, refuses to turn off the game, and demands chocolate milk not Mountain Dew.
It’s eight o’clock, do you know who your children are shooting?

Cell phone dis-servitude

Dont mind Jeeves right now
Where is the button on my cell phone to tell it
it doesn’t control me?
I remember the early adapters who got pagers and quickly learned that they had cut off their escape. At work their bosses could find them whenever they wanted. Leaving your pager at your desk was not an option. Being given a pager was a badge signifying importance that quickly became a shackle of servitude.

A cellphone is supposed to be more than a pager, a means to reach everybody else. It makes me feel like a television with the remote being bandied about who knows where. And too often it’s the remote itself calling in.

I appreciate the many features of my modern cell phone, it is indeed the most unimaginably versatile little gadget I have ever had. But I need it to do more. My phone can take pictures, record memos, and wake me up, along with every conceivable permutation of telephony, except excuse itself. It’s like a randy butler and I have to excuse it. In public, I have to make sure it will not ring inappropriately. In private I have to bear its interruptions when a better class of valet would know when to withdraw.

How should I know ahead of time when I would prefer not to be reminded of missed calls, or awaiting messages, or a waning battery? Certainly these are important matters, but in the quiet of my affairs I don’t need a needy pip-squeak chiming with regular monotony every two minutes.

Maybe the answer is in the manual. Believe me, the last thing I want is to have to learn how to better understand my new high maintenance [uninvited] best bud.

Everyone has a profile

TV iconThe 80s cult TV show Max Headroom depicted a post-apocalyptic world dominated by television networks as corporate overlords. There was direct democracy, you could vote right on your television, but only for who should win a contest or whether a condemned man should die. Think electronic lynch mob.
In this big-brother-televises-all world, there was a curious identity concept for describing people who lived off the grid. They were called Zeros and they lived literally outside the confines of the physical city infrastructure. (So difficult it was to conceive of how a person could escape oversight.) Little was known about their personal details, hence, they were zeros.

This was quite different from being unknown. Zero denotes something, specifically the absence of it. (The Latin numeral system stalled for lack of a zero.) In Max Headroom a Zero was a person about which suspicion was cast, due to the absence of the expected accumulation of data. An empty file was a flag, basically. You could choose to keep you cards close to your chest, but you would be watched more closely as a result.

I think the Zero anonymity dilemna is a fine example of the difficulty we face today in wrestling our privacy from the information merchants. It used to be patriots feared that our social security numbers would be used to track our personal records. This would have been true when the thought of synthesizing phone books by surnames was too daunting. But number-crunching has now well exceeded that kind of challenge. Computers can sort and group any number of variables, there is no need for a single unique SS number. A person’s name, birth date and birthplace provide specificity enough. Add to that the cloud of extra information: whereabouts, financial activity, utilities, phone and computer records, etc.

By the time you accumulate clouds of data for millions of people, patterns appear and the statistical laws of actuarial science, which have always served the insurance industry so well, begin to make the anomalies stand out. An analyst would be able to deduce quite a few things about you to which you are probably oblivious yourself. But most of all they can spot when someone is trying to manipulate their data footprint. And seeing that action in itself adds to your profile.

While to call an information-insurgent a Zero would be insufficiently descriptive, it makes the point. If you don’t have any phone on record, information analysts do not conclude that you lack a phone. If there’s a bill you’re not paying, or something you’re overpaying, there’s a probable hypothesis analysts will draw. The information industry is not in the business of knowing nothing.