The Positive Side of Internet Data Gathering

There is a good reason why God and aliens (of the extraterrestrial variety) use telepathy to communicate. It is the only secure form of information transmission. Everything else is subject to capture, storage, and retrieval.

There is currently a frantic paranoia spawned by national and international agency’s collection of virtually everything we say and do. The only thing not open for capture are our thoughts and dreams, at least for now. (Yes, the Army’s working on that).

But governments aren’t alone in information spying — commercial industry is perhaps outpacing governments in their data collection efforts. Their motivations may be different, but the frenetic pace and implications are every bit as invasive. Privacy, as we’ve known it, is dead.

I’ve previously written about Google Noodling , which is a way of catching Google in their data-mining efforts. And like the tone of that article, you have to take a lighthearted view of such efforts. It is not going away. And if we don’t “get over it”, we may, in my estimation, go a little crazy.

But there is a positive side to all this, and a large and growing number of people are finding this side to be personally satisfying. That has to do with family connections, or genealogy. I’ve written about that topic as well.

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My brother and I. He was five years older.

Last night I solved a very personal family puzzle through the help of Both my parents had brown hair and brown eyes. Both their younger children, sons, had blond hair and blue or green eyes.

I’ve spent a lot of time of late with my brother before he passed from a prolonged illness, and I was struck as never before with the purity of the blue color in his almost iridescent eyes. (I’m the one with the green eyes.) When young, both of us had blond hair, which eventually darkened with age. My brother was tall and thin. I was thin, but vertically challenged.

In the next generation, both my children have green eyes, perhaps because I married a green-eyed girl. Our daughter has blonde hair, and even a granddaughter has greenish-brown eyes. And a new grandson baby seems to have blue eyes and blond hair.

I have never ceased wondering, as did my parents no doubt, where those light colors came from. Having believed strongly in my mother’s fidelity, I kept assuming that someday I would discover the source of the blue/green eyes and blond hair.

That happened last night, thanks to the technology of digitization and data mining. I discovered a World War I selective registration document from my Grandfather who died in a hotel fire many years before my birth. At the age of 34 he had blue eyes and “light” hair. He was both tall and “slender”, pretty much a perfect description of my brother.U.S.WorldWarIDraftRegistrationCards1917-1918ForAlbertSidneyJohnstonClarke


The next morning I was able to go through unidentified family photos, and there he was, identified at last, the Grandfather I never knew. So apparently it wasn’t the mailman after all!

ASJ Clarke scan crop


Obviously this discovery is of interest to no one except my cousins and other relatives. However, it does point out the value of computers, computer databases, and the sharing of information that large databases make possible. There is a tangible reward, for both the company providing the product (the database) and the customers who benefit from the data shared.

I’m sure that when my Grandfather filled out his draft card in 1918, he had no idea that the digital image of that card would end up in the hands of his unborn grandchildren and great grandchildren 95 years later.

Which makes me wonder, what will the world know about each of us 100 years from now? We’ll be long gone, but the record of our existence will survive somewhere in the depths of a digital storage facility. Without a doubt our descendants will enjoy reading about the inane things which pleased or troubled us in 2013, and which we so freely posted thinking that no one was listening, and no one really cared.

Believe me, some people will care. And apparently, everybody’s listening.



Last Man Standing

484771_10200138166671792_451927531_nIt seems ironic that at the same time that equality of the sexes in marriage is being heavily promoted, there is a scientific announcement that the male of the human species is anything but equal; we are genetically weak. According to at least one female scientist, human males are destined to die out due to the fragility of our single Y chromosome.

This grave announcement comes from none other than the aptly named Professor Graves, of Australia.

Her forecast got me to thinking; what if I was the last human male on Earth. What would life be like?

My first naive, and probably delusional impression was that I would inevitably become a hot item. It really wouldn’t matter what I looked like; I would be desirable simply because of my rarity.

Which, if true in a fantasy sort of way, could actually be a nightmare. I would surely not be attracted to ALL females. I mean, that covers a pretty wide territory. The human population is pretty diverse.

However, once you become that unique of an entity, perhaps your free will may go out the window. It may not matter what I want. For instance, becoming or remaining paired with a single lady, remaining monogamous, might itself become a fantasy.

But as I delved a little deeper into this musing, another possibility presented itself. A world without men could only exist if scientists figured out a way to keep the population going without men. I suppose it’s possible, in an artificial sort of way. So what would I be then?

Well, perhaps nothing more than a freak, a rare oddity with a bizarre anatomical abnormality. Is it reasonable to expect genetic deviants to be in great demand by the ladies? I think not.

So, I hope that the scientist who claims that men may die out due to their chromosomal vulnerabilities is wrong. If not, the psychological outlook of that declining population of manly men would probably be bleak. And certainly, if by accident of birth I were the last man standing, my life experience might be every bit as challenging as it is for those with rare congenital handicaps.

Knowing that, I feel sure that if the scales of male/female birth ratios begin tipping away from the current normality, some male-dominated government will fund extensive research aimed towards preserving the status quo. Ironically, the answer to whether that research would be fruitful or not, might already be written in our genetic code.

As they say, only time (five million years by Professor Graves’ estimate) will tell.










I am Neanderthal, Pt. 2

The gleam in my father’s eye came in 2013. That is when it all started for me, years before my birth. I am more than a little annoyed by that.

In my searching of the archives trying to learn of my roots, I came across a 2013 article discussing the debatable morality of recreating the Woolly Mammoths through genetic tinkering. It would be immoral, was the scientist’s opinion.

So, how do you think that makes me feel, the only Neanderthal on Earth? No one bothered asking my opinion.

Morality, I think, is based on the profit motive; on hidden agendas. It is arguably immoral to create a solitary herd animal when there is no financial reward for creating an entire herd. A herd animal is lonely without a herd. I know; I am a herd animal too, in the strictest sense. If there was financial gain involved, I can guarantee you a herd would reappear, like magic.

Other than a tourist attraction, what could the incentive be for creating a herd of mammoths? The novelty would quickly wear off, I’m sure.

At least it did for me. The curiosity and wonder I invoked in the public as a child began to wane as I grew ever more body hair, and began to assert my independence, and hormones. Quickly I became yet another difficult, and apparently not very attractive, adolescent. I was seen as boring; old news.

But curiously, at the same time the morality of creating a single previously extinct herd animal was being discussed, the Russians uncovered liquid blood from the underbelly of an ice-bound Mammoth. Almost immediately, that miraculously preserved blood became a siren of inescapable beauty to geneticists. The most pious of them wondered, so I read, why God would reveal this magic pool of genetic mystery after so many millennia if in fact humans were not fated to recreate the Mammoth.

And almost in the same breath, Neanderthal. After all, Mammoths and Neanderthal are forever linked through folklore, originating in the cave art of my ancestors.

mammoth hunters
Mammoth Hunters: from

 Which brings me to a dream I had. It is true that supposedly primitive people put stock in dreams; but I digress.

I dreamed that Armageddon came suddenly, with nuclear weapons unleashed from Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, China, and the United States. It was horrifying, and true to prediction a nuclear winter ensued. Virtually no humans survived.

But there were survivors who actually thrived in the dark and cold. They were a large band of us Neanderthals who had been bred in secret locations in Siberia. After the holocaust, we Neanderthals were able to escape and pillage the remains of a devastated Earth.

And once again, herds of recreated Woolly Mammoths were also released in Siberia and fell prey to our kind, once again providing us sustenance.

Unwittingly, geneticists had secretly and unwittingly ensured the survival of a race of hominids, not exactly human, but close.

When the surviving humans and Neanderthals met, there was once again romance in the air.  Beggars can’t be choosers when genetic survival is at stake.

 But like I said, it was only a dream. I’m sure it could never really happen.

Could it?

To be continued.