The Town Tweeker

29 Jan

July 24, 2009                               THE TOWN TWEAKER

By Waldo J. Tomosky

The following experience occurred in the middle of a thunderstorm. Unfortunately I was sitting on an old log in the North Woods of New York State. My previously lit cigarette was soaked and useless. I am not normally concerned about lightening and thunder; however, the storm was extremely active that day. I was out in the open with my fishing rod acting as a lightning rod. I decided to lay it flat on the ground.

This is a story about a man of tomorrow. A man whose job it is to keep a town operating; and not simply operating but at its most efficient.  Long ago, when this piece was originally written, he would have been a political hack. But in today’s world he is a technician with no political ambitions (and probably no ambitions in any field of endeavor). And he has no knowledge of graft. Forgive my excursion in thought and allow me to take you back sixty-five years ago (where I had started my story about the thunderstorm in the North Woods).

I had not seen a single fisherman on the Chateaugay River that stormy morning. To my surprise (and through the fog, rain and trees) I spied a figure hurrying amid the downpour toward me. He was a man at least twenty years my senior. Apparently he had seen the same stand of hemlocks that I was taking shelter in.

“May I join you?” he asked.

“Sure” I responded. “Please sit down on my sofa.” I said motioning toward the horizontal log.

He took a pack of smokes out of his shirt pocket, looked at the soggy cigarette that hung from my lips, and then returned the pack where it had come from.

“Hell of a storm” he hollered above the din as rain drops beat the hemlock needles to a pulp before streaming down his face.

“It is” I answered. “I’m glad New York State hasn’t decided to tax a nice rain storm the way they have taxed fishing.

The statement about the state taxing fishing and rain was a bad error on my part. I had simply wanted to offer a conversation opener but it opened a flood-gate instead. The middle-aged gentleman sitting beside me went into a rant. His opinions (not to mention the strength of his arguments) made Frederic Nietzsche’s polemics look like a Goldie Locks story.

My new companion fretted about several advances in technology. This made me believe that he was simply an older man who had not been able to program his DVR. The more he spoke the less I was sure about my first impression. He surely was not unaware of technology. In fact he introduced me to a few concepts that I was unaware of.

His first comments regarded the installation of high-speed cameras that snapped photos of drivers who went through red lights. He seemed concerned about his privacy rights. I countered with the cost savings that would be reaped by not having a police officer sitting in his car watching for scofflaws. My new-found friend held his index finger aloft as if to say “Wait a minute, there’s more.”

He then reminded me of the “Quick-Pass” tags that are attached to autos for non-stops at toll booths. The amount of the toll was simply deducted from the “Quick-Pass” ID balance.

He asked “Why would it not be logical for the state to escalate the process? All registered automobiles could then be required to have a ‘quick-pass-like’ ID.” I quickly realized what he was getting at. This would be stealth registration; IDs could be tracked anywhere.

“That way” he continued “the state could argue that there was a cost savings by eliminating the camera equipment at intersections.” He also argued for the state as a devil’s advocate. He declared “The consolidation of services between the motor vehicle registration department and the turnpike authority could easily be sold as ‘cost savings’.”

“You see” he stated “it is really a matter of ‘creeping incrementalism’ but I call it the slow death of human freedom.

When I asked why his viewpoint was so radical he made the following points;

Ø  First he expanded his refutation of the registration/quick pass concept

Ø  Then he spoke of the ubiquity of GPS responders such as On-Star

Ø  Security tags on store bought items (alarm trippers) could be used to track anyone anywhere once the customer departed the store

Ø  Smart electric meters that will know not only how much energy you used but also would know when you used it to take a shower, wash cloths, make toast, etc.

Ø  Personal data records showing which internet sites you visited, which cable programs you watch, which satellite radio stations you listen to, what library books you borrow and which other ones you bought on-line or at the store.

Ø  Blood and DNA swab samples taken from babies at birth would record their genetic make-up and allow for future DNA comparison by government agencies and insurance companies

Ø  The tendency of the federal administration to level the incomes of all constituents (and its end result of killing the incentive to exceed) would have access to these files

Ø  Finally, and infinitely more common place, congress could pass a law allowing pervasive and unavoidable tracking of its citizens. An ID chip would be mandatory in all electronic equipment. This, supposedly, would help monitor “carbon footprints.” These chips would allow “signal-over-electric line” pulses to monitor your every preference; from toast at 9 A.M., to right wing radio at noon, to soft porn at 9 P.M.

Ø  The raveling and crocheting of all the information collected by the above, together in one place, would render the personality, preferences, and physical make-up of all humans to be, shall we say, “well known.”

This listing of real and imagined dangers takes us away from that damp conversation I had with the opinionated fisherman. That was sixty years ago. The technical changes mentioned above became interfused with each other. The interstitial bonding of this technology with everyday life made it appear as common and useful as the bonding of carbon and iron to form steel.

Data banks grew in vastness as the cost of computer memory plunged. Organic memory could be grown instead of manufactured. The totality of this “data capture” came of age and resulted in identifying individuals completely. It was as if people were being filmed and recorded, digitized, compressed, organized and sorted. Individuals were concatenated into neighborhoods, neighborhoods into districts, districts into towns. The reverse engineering could also be completed; towns divided into districts, districts into neighborhoods, neighborhoods into individuals.

Algorithms of matrix algebra allowed the synthesizing and organizing of individualized human preferences, attitudes, aptitudes and limitations. These human parameters were programmed into predetermined options for the “greater good.”  Whose greater good we are still attempting to determine. This era was when the concept of “Town Tweaker” became a reality.

The Town Tweaker’s  job is to watch the town data much like the power plant controller watches boiler data, chilled water temperature, flow, and electrical usage. Not unlike the power plant technician opening and closing valves, the Town Tweaker moves people in and out of jobs, neighborhoods, marriages and even towns.

There are no complaints about what the Town Tweaker does because it is all for the greater good. Everyone is well fed, healthy and quite predictable. Political parties are a thing of the past. Competition is spoken of like we, sixty years ago, once spoke of prostitution; in hushed tones and only when you knew who you were speaking to.

The word “capitalism” is not used in everyday life (and if it were, it would have the same connotation that “colonialism” once had). References are often made to capitalism in college textbooks and classrooms; however, there exists no valid concept of it (or need of it either).

Housing, child care and nourishment are all accomplished in the “Obamakomfin”, a communal house based on “Sovremennaia Arkhitektura” which can be found in our current manifesto “An Archaeology of Socialism” written by Buchli in 1999. The clear description of life within socialism had been ignored for over a half-century before Buchli clarified it (and another half-century before it was rediscovered).

Renderings of “The Beautiful Life” (Krasivaia Zhizn) hang in each apartment in the Obamakomfin. The cultural workers have found a way to disengage from the material world. All people have some type of “meaningful work” that does not result in the crass consumption (or collection of) “power based” items. Cultural dupes and capitalistic puppets are a thing of the past.

Within the stark walls of the Obamakomfin each apartment  has, opposite the hanging picture of “Krasivaia Zhizn”, an Obama Corner. We meet there as a unit to discuss the blessings that “The Great Rhetorictitian” has bestowed upon us. He no longer lives in a corpulent manner but his essence is found as we recite “Change We Can Believe In”; the prayer for tomorrow.

    • © Copyright – Waldo Tomosky

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14 Responses to “The Town Tweeker”

  1. Electricians Campbelltown February 12, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation but I to find this topic to be really something that I believe I would by no means understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am having a look ahead on your next submit, I’ll try to get the dangle of it!

    • Waldo "Wally" Tomosky February 12, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

      It is just a story about how big brother now watches us and how it could turn into a society with communist tendencies. Not a prediction; just food for thought. Thanks for reading it.

      • virginiallorca January 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

        I think the above may be a spam bot. (There I go again.)

  2. Russel Ray Photos July 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    One part of your story is just so toally wrong, the part about watching soft porn at 9:00 p.m. Ha! Who waits until 9:00 p.m.?

    Reminds me of Star Trek where there is no need for money anymore because everyone’s basic needs are taken care of. Ergo, the black market for things like latinum and other precious items.

    I love the Affordable Care Act because as of July 1, 2012, I actually have health insurance again for the first time in nine years, and not for lack of trying to get it. However, I don’t want my personal information bandied about like Google, Facebook, and others want to use it.

    As The Who said forty years ago, “I hope I die before I get old” or at least before we’re all numbers and automatons.

  3. Waldo "Wally" Tomosky January 27, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    Reblogged this on waldotomosky and commented:

    This was written almost six years ago – – – and already it has become ture. Ask yourself; “Do I feel comfortable with all this government meddling?”

  4. virginiallorca January 27, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    No matter what topic I start with, I usually end up mentioning the RFID chip. The idea that wi-fi is on airplanes through radio signal now is terrifying. Who couldn’t send any signal they want? I know I am labelled a loony conspiracy theorist, but, as you point out in this story, don’t you think our age gives us a different perspective on history?

    And I never considered the thing about every newborn going into the DNA data bank. Our only hope is that all this electronic mumbo jumbo goes south, as our cable, phones, and PCs so often do. But then there will be the robot rebellion.

    • Waldo "Wally" Tomosky January 28, 2015 at 12:19 am #

      TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER. Oh screw that. I see him on TV every night blathering away. Take care Virginia

  5. easyweimaraner January 28, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    “the greater good” contains sometimes some uncomfy things … I must laugh as I read Russel Ray’s comment… hmmmm think he is right, who waits until 9.00 p.m. ….

  6. J.B. Whitmore February 22, 2015 at 5:24 am #

    Sorry Wally, I don’t blame our loss of privacy on Obama. The process was underway long before he was elected. Also, it isn’t a communist system we’re headed for.

    Communism was conceived when we had about 1/6 of the current population, natural resources were considered all but infinite, and we had very little understanding of the human brain. Capitalism was dreamed up earlier, in 1776 if you want to give Adam Smith credit, when world population was about 10% of the current population, and natural resources were indisputably considered infinite. Both philosophies are outdated.

    We’re looking at a whole new ball of wax. If we’re going to survive as a species, most people will have to be shuffled into small, stacked living units, and they will like it because there will be electronic entertainment, and as you point out in your story, creature comforts. Most people will become passive, glad to have employment, food, protection, much like our domesticated animals. People who cause trouble will be locked in cages, also known as jail. Privacy? Pshaw. It’s gone. Unless there is a terrible event that kills millions, which I certainly do not hope for.

    And yet — there is still so much in the world to celebrate, to fight for, to care about. More of us need to go outside, daily, and give thanks for consciousness, joy, the amazingly narrow blip of physical circumstances that allow us to exist. And then we need to get to work.

    • Waldo "Wally" Tomosky February 22, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi JBW;
      Thank you for reading my story. The time frame was from a few decades ago to far in the future.
      It was based on my observation of things that we are passively allowing to happen; things that appear innocuous but in reality (and in their totality) will give others power over our everyday lives.
      The ending of this this short story is based on actual history. History does repeat itself due to our human nature. The history is documented in the book “An Archaeology of Socialism”, Victor Buchli, 1999, dedicated ‘For the memory of my grandmother Evdokia Feodorovna Zborowski.’ {I was my hope that others would read the book to see what happens when we allow others to control our daily lives}
      So I don’t blame Obama for loss of our privacy (I blame ourselves); however, he is the type of person that would take great advantage of it.
      Thank you again for reading my short story. That is my greatest enjoyment; to have others read what I write and think about it yet not necessarily agree with it.
      Wally

      • J.B. Whitmore February 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

        I agree. We are to blame for our loss of privacy. It is easy to see in politicians we don’t like. Take the new mega-data collection/spy site in Bluffdale, Utah, the arrest and bad treatment of nay-sayers, the destabilization of the middle east, militarization of our police and the CIA, the creation of a huge bureaucracy, Homeland Security, and subsidies to the biggest privacy invaders of all, corporations — all policies carried on under Obama, but created by, or enhanced by, George W. Bush.

        So George Bush, too, is the kind of person who takes great advantage of the opportunities to centralize power.

        And, as you say, so are we. Right now, you and I are in our comfy, information-permeable homes, feeding the blogosphere with personal information.

        I agree that we can and should learn from history, but Marx and Engels never dreamed of anything like the Internet, or the massive extinction of other earthlings, caused by humans, or that humanity itself would people the earth in such numbers that we change every biosystem, soil, sky, air, water, forest and desert. Capitalists and socialists showed us how to give many people access to things they like, by pretending that we are the most important things on earth. In order to keep pretending that, in order to live without thinking about the consequences of how we live, we will give up privacy. If we want things to go otherwise, we’d better hurry up and make some big changes.

      • Waldo "Wally" Tomosky February 23, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

        Hi JBW,

        Do you have any suggestions as to how we should change? Whenever anyone has suggested change they seem to want to change back to something else.

        One young fellow I took a class with suggested anarchy. I asked him why? He answered ‘to change things.’ I asked him ‘to change to what.’ He answered ‘to change to whatever comes of it.’
        Not a very satisfactory answer.
        Wally

  7. J.B. Whitmore February 23, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    That’s pretty funny about the anarchist, and how kind of you to give him a chance to air his views. As you are kindly giving me.

    Lots of ideas, but what we choose to do depends on what we care about most.

    My biggest worry is over-population. The best way to reduce birth rates is to educate women — see the huge drop in Italy, and the high number of female PhD’s, a conscious development by the Italians. To that end, I volunteered, fundraised, campaigned for funding for public schools, sit on the library board, fundraise to provide toddlers with free books.

    My second biggest worry is the rapid destruction of ecosystems. Without a human-friendly biosphere, we won’t be around long. I support and write about new developments in energy use and efficiency, clean water initiatives, expansion of wilderness areas, processing of our northwest logs here at home rather than in China, of Obama’s expansion of ocean preserves, our now-disgraced Governor’s painstaking deals worked out between farmers, ranchers and Native Americans to share water and land.

    My third biggest worry, and the reason I think people are becoming so passive, is unhealthy styles of living. When we eat poorly and don’t exercise, our brains don’t work very well. I bike and walk when I can, volunteer as a yoga teacher at the juvenile detention center, follow and write about farming and food.

    If privacy is the big worry for you, you probably know better than me what kind of changes are needed. Find the legislators and congressmen, both R’s and D’s, who fight for citizen’s rights, and support them. There is software that strips out data collected from citizens, and every federal collection system should use it. Anyone, private company, citizen or government agency who abuses privacy rights should be tried and punished. You raised the issue of the collection of energy information. I don’t care if our local utility is monitoring my hot water usage, but if that’s something you care about, there are lots of people who agree, and would be more than happy for your support.

    And on it goes. Something to do everywhere I look. How about for you?

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