Since I want to write about privacy today, I googled ‘the right to be concealed’. It’s a sign of the times that every hit on the first page was about concealed carry of weapons—in other words, gun violence, gun control, gun whatever—all centered on the USA.

Americans speaking about guns is like Brits talking about Brexit. No matter what happens, it’s never the gun’s fault.

Well, a gun is a tool, and humans have ascended to their position of dominance because of their capacity to make and use tools—without them we’d be screwed.

In my children’s book, Folk Tales For Future Dreamers, a young yak and her father reflect on humans.

Yingwen munched a little sedge and thought hard about what to do. If I go too far down the hill, I’ll meet the tulegs, and they’ll take me prisoner. Her father had pointed them out from a distance on more than one occasion.

“There’s one, my girl, on the ridge! See, behind the bahrals.”

Yingwen could see the bahrals, with their long curved horns and soft faces. The blue sheep weren’t blue at all, and they had white streaks on their faces, running from their eyes to the corners of their mouth.

“Daddy, I see the blue sheep, but—“

“There!” Daddy nuzzled her head to make her look the right way.

“Oh!” She saw a strange creature standing on its hind legs behind the flock of sheep. It was small, covered in fur, and holding a stick in its foreleg.

“That’s a tuleg. Be very careful. If they can, they’ll grab us.”

“That? Even I could bump it.”

“No, Yingwen. They’re very sneaky, and they’ll take you prisoner, using their sneaky ways.”

“And eat me? Like the bears and wolves?”

“Not straightaway. The tulegs make you work, pulling their machines all day. They use lots of animals, bahrals and yaks, and they never let them go. They steal our milk, our hair, even our poop!”

“Our poop? Yuk!”

No, yak!” Daddy howled with laughter, very pleased with his joke. “They burn our poo in their fires, to keep warm at night. That sheepskin coat you see, Ingwen, it’s not really theirs. Actually, they have no fur at all, they’re all yellow and skinny.”

“Eewww,” said Yingwen.

“No, sheep!” Her father howled with laughter again, until she pinched him.

The yaks have it—no other animal has ever managed to trap another by putting a ring through its nose, a collar around its neck, or hobbling its feet, never mind corralling a herd.

The new kid on the block when it comes to tools—and it may well be the word of the twenty-first century—is data.

Data is truly a four-letter word—a loanword from Latin that is the plural of datum, but always used in the singular. Like many Latin words, Latin languages have assimilated and adapted it, so it isn’t used at all.

Historically, data was associated with numbers, but when computer science developed, data became associated with other kinds of things.

As an example, the standard English-language character set is encoded as a set of numbers, When I type data, I press four keys that have a letter engraved on them, and tell my computer to process character codes 100, 97, 116, and 97. And if I wanted capital letters, I would subtract 32 from each of those numbers.

Humans are inventive, and while some of us see numbers as poetry, others see keyboards as easels.

     | @ @   Woof! 
     |   <>              _  
     |  _/\------____ ((| |))
     |               `--' |   
 ____|_       ___|   |___.' 

Art is not my forte, so I could never do this friendly hound, which I gratefully credit to Joan Stark.

And then, folks got tired of ASCII art…

ASCII art is wonderfully retro, so enjoy touring the website—I like The Simpsons, and of course the Ryan S. guitars.

From data listing numbers and alphanumeric characters (words) we swiftly moved to songs, pictures, photos, and videos. Like all other media, audio has been used for all kinds of purposes. An an example, here is a clip of a female orgasm (men’s orgasms are really boring) from the Internet Archive—amazing what you find when you ask the right question.

It’s worth bearing in mind that whatever data we’re dealing with, in the end it’s always numbers: this is what makes mathematics, like music—which by the way is also numbers—the only universal language.

Zoom to 2023, where everyone feels that we live in future, our lives cocooned inside a digital world—except the century is only two years past US legal drinking age—still trying to understand hangovers.

For the last two decades, the thieving tulegs have been hoarding all your data—today’s equivalent of milk, hair, and poop—and storing it in an infinite warehouse.

Kids have no recourse against this—the cloud is full of pics, vids, and anything else that can be posted online. Parents post them, friends post them, enemies post them—or just attention-seekers who click before they think.

And now a flock of companies that remove you from the cloud have appeared. From DCMA in the States to Eliminalia in Europe, the USP of these babies is to erase you.

In some cases, more accurately, the idea is to replace all those nefarious posts, vids, and other horrors with articles on your (platonic) love for dogs, or some other innocuous theme.

A (faceless) satisfied customer from Eliminalia, now celebrating his love of Chihuahuas.

Got a past? Fuggedaboutit!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TIR-AF-CE-FT-2019.jpg

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones

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