Get A Life
Unless you've been living under a rock the
past couple of weeks, you've undoubtedly heard that
Streetview is causing quite a ruckus. All that I can figure is that
people these days too many people have far too much time on their hands.
These latest "much ado about nothing" is
being fueled by journalists who think they are technology experts simply
because they use the Web, or are technology experts who are
intentionally omit factual information in order to sell newspapers.
Our own forum is another example, where
people are in a frenzy about Streetview. Some have even gone as far as
to put the blame for Google's Streetview on President Bush (fodder for
another rant on another day).
Anyway - many people are in a real tizzy
about Google's Streetview. A lot of them are referencing
one particular New York Times article. Now, I don't know
about you, but I feel that quoting the New York Times is almost
the same as quoting the National Enquirer. In case you've been
out-of-loop recently, the National Enquirer is the tabloid that
writes stories like the one about giant genetically-engineered, cabbages
giving birth to human twins who were fathered by aliens that just so
happened to resemble very large stalks of broccoli with several big
As usual in this "rant", we're going to cut
to the chase and tell you the way it really is. We're going to tell you
why Google's Streetview is no more a threat to your privacy than the
New York Times or pulling into your local Wal-Mart parking lot.
I write this with all due respect to the
New York Times - we all know it's a slow news cycle - but I think
I'd rather read about the ninety-eight year old woman in Brazil who ran
a marathon in less than three hours, with a basket of bananas
strapped to her head, that some litigious nutcase in California looking
for some easy money. And to think, she's using her poor little cat, too!
Here's the truth and you can either believe
it or not. You should believe it because, unlike the National
Enquirer branch of the New York Times, I'm not
sensationalizing this to sell newspapers like the above referenced
There's a nutjob in California (where
else?) who is suing Google for an image that appears on Google Maps (and
Streetview). It apparently shows her cat sitting in the window of
her apartment. Whew! I don't know about you, but if my cat hadn't died
last summer, I'd have been upset if someone other than me saw him.
Here's the picture that has her in a
Can you see the cat? Would you know it was
her cat? Would it really matter if you did? What's it all about, Alfie?
What's really hilarious about all this is
in the picture the New York Times published (resized and cropped to fit
this page) you can REALLY see the cat, the woman, and her apartment. Not
only that, but her name, her husband's name, and the name of their
street are all, right there, in the article. Now, I am going to guess
that a lot more people have seen a clearer view of her cat in the New
York Times and in the Blogs-Du-Web-O-Mania that this article has
created, than ever would have seen her little kitty if she would have
gone about her life and forgotten about the cat on Google. But, maybe
she doesn't have a life. Maybe she needs to get a life! Or maybe she's
just another opportunist looking for an excuse to sue someone with vast
reserves of wealth. Hmm...maybe she has a life and her motto is: "I want
some of that"?
The picture above clearly shows the woman
and the cat and part of the woman's apartment. Hmmm what do I see
outside the window? Is that a car going by? That might be mine! Wait,
mine's not silver, it's rust-colored - another story for another time.
But, I think I see a dog in the window of that car!
Here's an eye test for you. Look at the
pictures below. Which looks clearer to you: Cat A or Cat B?
If you choose cat "A" you have better
eyesight than 99.9% of humanity. If you choose cat "B" then you chose
the cat in the picture published by the New York Times. I choose
cat "B". I can actually see that it looks like a cat not a pterodactyl
landing on a chicken - which is what Cat "A" (the Google cat) looks like
to me. If you stare at it long enough, it could look like anything you
want. For sure though, the animal labeled cat "B" above is a cat. No
doubt about it.
Some more hilarious stuff: We'll probably
get sued by the New York Times and the loopy woman for using
these pictures without permission (and for calling them both names :-)
). If the New York Times sues us, we'll be famous. If the woman
sues us she will be greatly disappointed because we don't have any
money. So, to them both I say, "bring it on"!
Back to business: Is the point of all
this to keep your cat out of your front window and off Google? No. The
point is that we live in a world where TV cameras, city Web-cams, and
cameras attached to traffic lights have become ubiquitous. If you're
ignorant of this, there's not much we can do.
When you pull into Wal-mart's parking lot,
are you paralyzed with fear that you are being recorded by surveillance
cameras that comb every inch of the parking lot? When you walk into a
convenience store do you smile, knowing you're being photographed?
It's only common sense that when you walk
down the street it's very likely someone is going to see you. If your
cat sits in your front window and the curtains are open, anyone who
passes by can see your cat. Yes, it's true, really. My cat was nice and
I didn't care if someone looked at my cat. But I don't live in
California either. I wouldn't sue anyone because they saw my cat sitting
in the front window of my house. If I didn't want anyone to see my cat,
I would leave the curtains closed and keep my cat out of the front
window. Duh. That makes too much sense.
And, what about this nutcase and her cat?
Maybe this woman is not aware that cars passing below can see her cat?
The Google cat picture really looks only vaguely like a cat to me. If
she is so concerned about her "privacy" why did she let the National
Enquirer, er, I mean, the New York Times, publish a picture
of her and her cat? Why did she let them publish her name, the name of
her street and the name of her husband? What do you think?
Now every lunatic in Oakland, California
and New York City (and there are plenty) has this woman's face, cat's
face and address memorized for whatever lurks in the hearts and minds of
California and New York City lunatics. If it were me, I would have
rather people see picture "A" than picture "B". Picture "A" was more
like a Rorschach test - one could even imagine a budding zucchini plant
if one were to look closely enough. It really might be a pterodactyl
landing on a chicken though. What do you think?
The one thing I know for sure, the world
has gone crazy. Common sense is poof! It's gone. Hypocrisy is rampant.
The cat is just the tip of the Google
Streetview iceberg. There are endless blogs and news articles on the Web
about it. Some of them complain because you can see a man picking his
nose on the corner. Some are griping about a drunk, sleeping or
passed-out in an alley. Others yammer on about a man entering an "adult
book store" (they're all thinking, no doubt, "Gee what if that were me
and my wife saw it?:). Some were incense because they could read the
license number on a car. But, pardon me if I'm wrong, if I walked down
the street in any big American city, wouldn't I see the same things?
Google's Streetview, is not, as some would
have you believe, an Orwellian Big Brother. Many people would be shocked
to learn that Google is not a government. But can you believe that a
blurry image of a cat has created such an uproar?
Here are some facts. I know these facts,
not because I am such a fount of knowledge but because I have some
common sense left. Maybe only a little, but still I have some.
When I drive down the street anyone can see
my license plates. My little town of about 15,000 has a city Web cam
perched on top of the courthouse, constantly peering down upon people
going about their daily lives and cars passing by, people picking their
noses (probably - but I've never looked at the city cam), and maybe even
(Heaven forbid!) a couple teenagers in a car kissing!
Maybe the problem is that people have too
much time on their hands these days. And there is a real lack of common
sense these days. The worst thing is that more and more people look up
to the moronic segment of our society and actually look up to these
crazies. And let's not forget that great Pot 'O Wealth: The frivolous
People have too much time on their hands.
They really need need to get a life.
Google's Streetview is no more sinister
than a city's Web cam, or TV camera's filming away at some event with
passers-by and cars (license plates and all) whizzing to and fro in the
background. And Google's Streetview is probably far less intrusive than
the Traffic Cams that many big cities use to catch motorists who violate
traffic laws. We don't know all the neat things those camera's catch,
because so far, city employees haven't (as far as I know) posted them on
the Web for all to see. But, just wait, some disgruntled former city
employee will post some of the more "interesting" shots taken by these
traffic cams. It's only a matter of time.
Many big and little towns alike now have
Web cams streaming live images across the Internet and therefore the
world. If you walk in one of these towns your visage will appear on the
Net and be broadcast all over the world. If you decide to stop and pick
your nose, guess what anyone watching is going to see? Are city Web cams
a violation of your privacy? Or does common sense tell you that when
you're out in public that you're going to be seen? Hmmm, I think that's
why they call it being out in "public".
If you stand in your window, in full
view of the public, doesn't it seem probable that you will be seen by
the public? If you want privacy close your curtains. I doubt very much
if you'd stand in the window while taking a shower then complain to the
police because a passer-by on the sidewalk saw you. If you don't want
someone passing by your house to see you then don't stand in the window,
facing the sidewalk and the street, with the curtains open. Oooh! It
really agitates me when people don't use common sense.
If you don't want someone to see your cat,
then don't let you cat sit in the window facing the street and and
sidewalk. Someone will see your cat. Duh!
Our society is running on empty when it
comes to common sense. The woman with the cat should try using curtains
if she doesn't want the outside world looking into her apartment. It's
just common sense, isn't it? Maybe she never expected her cat to show up
on Google's Streetview but she must have known that anyone driving by
could see her cat in the window. Well, maybe not. It appears she just
wanted to sue someone and finally found her reason. Or thinks she has.
Google's Streetview isn't even comprised of
live pictures. The way some people talk you would think these satellite
images are being beamed live from space and you're going to see
real-time shots of people picking their noses, oh my! Scratching places
they shouldn't scratch in public, oh my! And other unsavory things like
that. But Streetview images are not live images, they're collages of
images taken over time.
To the woman with the cat, I say: "Hey,
nutjob! If you're so worried about your personal privacy
so much maybe it would be good idea to keep your curtains closed. And,
come to think of it, it probably wasn't the greatest thing for your
privacy (or your cat's) to have your picture, your name, and your
address published in the New York Times, ya think?"
This woman is using some fuzzy picture of
her cat to trump up another ludicrous, frivolous lawsuit. She smells
easy money. And that's the only reason this is all happening.
Maybe she should have tried dumping hot coffee on her lap and suing
Starbucks instead. I find it impossible to imagine any jury nutty enough
to award this loser a penny. But, you never know. Juries have been known
to do some nutty things.
Duh! Snooping neighbors have been around since man lived in mud huts. If you
don't want someone to see your license plate, don't drive your car. If you don't want people to see you walking around,
don't walk in public. If you don't want someone to see your
cat, don't let you cat sit in your window with the curtains open facing
a busy sidewalk and street.
Maybe the REAL only reason why people are
in an uproar over Google Streetview is because it's Google. Google has
been wildly successful. There's a conclusion that some people
automatically reach and it is: No one can be successful unless they
cheat or step on other people. Back in the days before the death of
common sense we would have said that they were jealous. But we can't say
Maybe the REAL reason why the New York
Times published this stupid article is because they're jealous. This
once, great icon of the American press, has now become another, yawn,
newspaper gasping for air in an increasingly electronic world. Lowering
its standards to that of grocery store rags such as the National
Enquirer, isn't going to save this behemoth from its ultimate fate. I
wonder if they ever considered reporting real, unbiased news? Now,
that's a novel idea.
In a society that is becoming increasingly
short on common sense and increasingly long on hypocrisy, maybe the real
reason behind this absurd brouhaha is that people simply have too
much time on their hands.
Maybe it's too late for common sense to
make a comeback. But I hope people like this woman someday get a life.
It seems to me that the news media no
longer report the news, rather they try to create news where no news
exists. Journalism isn't about reporting what happened anymore,
journalists have become propagandists endeavoring to teach us how to
think and what to believe.
After reading this New York Times
article, I don't see common sense coming back anytime soon. The
mainstream media has been almost totally successful in leading people
away from common sense and from thinking for themselves. They love
to tell people how to think. It looks like they've been very successful.
The media: the shining, guiding light of
hypocrites, is a beacon to all those who are unwilling, or unable, to
think for themselves. If the New York Times survives long enough
and is ultimately successful in creating the society it seems so
desperate to create - the society without common sense, in which
introspection and independent thought is not tolerated - the irony will
be stunning: Eventually there won't be anyone left who will be smart
enough to read the words the New York Times prints.
Maybe that won't be so bad after all.