Saturday, December 18, 2004

Big Brother is Watching You...
I have discovered a very interesting phenomenon in the last few weeks. We are being watched in the privacy of our own homes, only those doing the watching don't do so behind the aegis of the Fed'ral Gubmint --- they are telemarketers.

I screen my calls. I have the caller ID feature on my phone as well. I do so because I'm very often a sucker for a good sales pitch. Thanks to phone-based telemarketers I have subscriptions to magazines I hardly ever read, but will be paying for for many a year. I can't tell you how many times I've almost fallen for the free-vacation-if-you-come-look-at-our-timeshare-situation-in-Florida routine. I'm kinda weak-kneed when confronted by something like this. I don't know what it is, but it's something I'm gonna have to stop. Perhaps more therapy?

Anyway, what I've noticed is that if i use the phone after I've gotten and ignored a call from one of these folks, my phone invariably rings several minutes later, and they're back. They know when I'm home and they know when I'm using my phone. There's supposed to be some new phone service (I think it's *38 or something), that automatically redials a busy number every so often.

If the Government of the United States did this, the ACLU would be filing lawsuits from sea to shining sea. If the CIA was doing this we'd have Congressional hearings. Because private business is doing it, we hear nary a word.

The worst offenders are the bill collectors. The second worst are those seeking donations to save the spotted-three-finned-tuna or something like it. The most unconscionable offenders are universities seeking to drum up support for protests against everything from the bomb to transgendered automony for the Indians of the Amazon.

Politicians have used this service as wel, since I got four calls (count 'em) from Bill Clinton on Election Day, urgin me to vote for both John Kerry and Erskine Bowles. I wouldn't have voted for either one if you threatened to cut my scrotum off at the base. With a rusty sheep shear.

For all of you who considered John Ashcroft the biggest threat to privacy rights and personal security, I offer you this to think about. At least Ashcroft and his blakshirts were never calling me every 15 minutes, interupting my own phone calls with call waiting signals, and forcing me to pay the phone company for a feature I really could do without, just to ask for a donation to the cause celebre of the week.

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