Life, photos but not the universe

Stuff happens

Still, in the world of Nanny states and Big Brother super powers we seem more and more desperate to prevent it from happening.

More and more devices to ID us and track our every movement (ranging from the good old fashioned informer to chips under the skin, with pupil recognition somewhere in between) more and more rules to curtail any possible threat from absolutely anything or anyone. More and more insurance against the failure of any of these to protect us from each other and from the laws of physics   More and more therapies, philosophies and religions to try and force or persuade us into safe and predictable  behaviour.

Funny isn’t it.  The more we try and weed and prune and fertilise our universe, the more it sprouts unwelcome and previously unimagined threats.

It’s naive to suppose that any one of us can stop stuff from happening simply by being responsible for our own individual behaviour.  It’s equally naive to suppose that the human powers-that-be can stop stuff from happening through their corporate, multinational or governmental actions.

A saying I have stuck to my computer goes “for every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, inexpensive and wrong”.  But we still hope that we can stop all stuff from happening by making teachers be nice to nasty children, by ‘rehabilitating’ habitual criminals, by stopping people from having too many children, by making lists of bad people, by praying to a multitude of omnipotent beings, by gathering ‘free’ power from the sun, the sea, the wind,  by watching everybody all the time, by forbidding people to be naughty.  We hope for a magic pill to cure each problem – perhaps all problems!  We hope for a powerful wizard to stave off the dangers that surround us.  We pour oil on troubled waters and hope the waves won’t resurface somewhere else.

And all the time, stuff just keeps happening.

I think it’s a mistake to imagine that we can stop it.  And a mistake to imagine that all human existence can be smooth and kind and easy and predictable, a mistake even,  to imagine that we’d enjoy that.  Also, were such a thing possible, it could only be achieved by unrelenting vigilance and diligence on the part of each one of us.  Well that’s a thing which, quite frankly isn’t possible.  Also, I find the idea of all those diligent and vigilant people rather creepy and paralysingly dull.  Indeed, even two cups of coffee is failing to keep me interested in this whole idea.

So why did I go off on this one?

Oh yes!  ILTV introduced me to the wonders of Google Earth street views.  I wandered, entranced, up and down the lanes of Devon where I spent my teenage years and then was more than a little taken aback to see the rows and rows of little camera icons all along all the lanes, politely not looking right at the houses but coyly peeping at the entrances to drives.  Somebody must have driven or walked all those lanes with a camera.  Perhaps on a cherry picker type of thing?  Or maybe it was all done from satellites?  I can’t see how.  And we get to see the results of all this expense and effort for free?  I don’t see how that, either!  So then I wondered about surveillance and people you occasionally see pointing gadgets along the roads and wearing high visibility jackets and looking busy and visible.  (I must say, it’s a job I’d rather like.  Though maybe not in an inner city area?)


And then, naturally, I had a quick look at where I live now.  Why did I bother to take photos I ask myself – Google has done it perfectly adequately for me.  You can even see my car through the shrubs.  And next door’s choisya in bloom next to our fence.  I can’t help thinking GE street views are a bit of a gift for a burglar or a policeman or a terrorist.  Not that our house would be of any interest to any of those but still…..


So I really do wonder who’s paying for all these marvels.  And why.  It won’t be burglars or terrorists I suppose.  And apparently it’s not you and me.

Well this is where I lived as a teenager – fresh from the suburbia of Croydon and somewhat stunned to find that from our new home, fields and hills were all you could see in any direction.  Apart from the farm and the chapel at the end of our garden. (which you can’t see as they’re behind you)

The tree we planted has got a bit bigger (if it’s the same one) and the lamp post we took away with us has been replaced with a modern one.  It’s not called Upfield any more.  Otherwise it looks exactly the same as it did 40 years ago.  That window you can just about see through the tree was my bedroom.  I used to climb out of it onto the porch roof in order to do nefarious things, such as muffling the pony’s hooves with sacks and riding out in the moonlight after Mum and Dad had gone to bed.

It’s a powerful thing this GE street view.  (see the little cameras, setting off down the hill towards Christow Village?)


Because though we don’t have a ‘fix everything‘ button we seem to be acquiring a lot of ‘see everything’ knobs.  And we mostly already have the ‘because I can‘ button.  But that’s a whole ‘nother ramble.

Meanwhile, when Barney’s insurance man turned up unannounced, the first thing I did was to ask if he had an appointment and when he said he’d turned up on spec, demanded his ID.  But that, I think is yet another subject.  Although it ties in because although I can see where you live, if such a person appears on my doorstep with no ID other than a driving licence, it tells me sweet fa about his identity.  And even if he had a company ID it wouldn’t tell me a lot.  And even when they give us all ID cards and we’re all on a dozen databases (more than already) and the ID is absolutely foolproof, d’you think you and me will have any means of checking the pupils or genetic fingerprints of the average calling salesman?  I think not!

Final thought:  I have to admit that I really love GSV.    Since I am neither a burglar, a terrorist or even more than moderately nosey, I shall indulge at every opportunity.  And thanks to ILTV for the introduction, it’s such fun!!!


April 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. crikey

    it’s all very scary when laid out like that, isn’t it

    and in the meantime we get on with our lives

    (which in my case means trying to find the house I grew up in in Croydon!)


    Oh well, I also subscribe to ‘la plus ca change….’ so, like you, I get on with my life. And that means thoroughly enjoying GSV : )

    Comment by I, Like The View | April 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. I haven’t indulged–for exactly this reason. As if not indulging makes it any more private and ‘safe’.
    Isn’t it strange how ‘unsafe’ a simple program can make one feel?
    Truth be told, since 911, that false sense of security has vanished. I don’t know that I like admitting that. Even in small town Iowa, that sense of ‘all is well’ is a fleeting one. That I don’t much care for……but it is how it is.

    Think I’ll wish away the rain and hope for some patio time where I can pretend. LOL

    It doesn’t take much to make people feel unsafe though does it? A story in the local papers can make you look differently at alleyways and door locks for a day or two. When you’ve been around for a few years there’s a cumulative anxiety which is partly why older people worry more. Patio time is best : )

    Comment by Mel | April 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. can’t see my house 🙂

    bizarre isn’t it tho’? It must have taken so much work to blur out all the number plates and faces too, and what for really? Still google know our every key stroke on the computer so just knowing where you live is nothing they didn’t know already.

    Exactly ziggi : ) Might as well just enjoy the ride!

    Comment by Linda | April 6, 2010 | Reply

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