Saturday, 6 July 2013

I Wouldn’t Call It Research, Exactly . . . .

If anybody checked my Google searches they’d either have a fairly detailed picture of me quite quickly or they’d get a headache. With one half of Europe (the populations of the countries involved) disgusted and the other half (the governments of said countries) declaring themselves innocent of all knowledge of nefarious deeds by the NSA/CSS,  I fell to wondering how the secret services tell friend from foe.

I actually googled ‘security services’ and came up with reams of sites and pages and pages of newspaper articles on the recent scandals. Will this curiosity now put me on the list of suspect individuals? I’m probably there already because I carelessly said in a comment that, as far as I’m concerned, whistleblowers like Edward Snowden deserve a prize for bravery.  It beggars belief that vast resources are used to amass, sift, evaluate and store all the rubbish that floats about the world wide web. Every email, tweet, FB update, blogpost, etc. of millions of people is studied electronically.

It’s impossible to put the genie of the internet back in the bottle; whatever would we do without it. Personally, I find the internet a good thing, it is enriching my life quite miraculously. But, having made these remarks electronically, I have the uncomfortable feeling that somebody somewhere might now consider me a threat to national security.

However, be that as it may, my real googling activities are nothing to do with spooks and how they are out to get me, but a lot with cooking, literature, gardening, etymology, birds, plant names and what’s in the news locally.

Here’s a small selection from last week:

Imperial Rome in the 1st Century AD  
Reading a history of the emperors of the period, as well as going to see Shakespeare’s gory play ‘Titus Andronicus’ who is absolutely nothing to do with the historical emperor Titus.

Wasabi Chocolate
I bought a bar, to see ‘what it tastes  like’ . It’s disgusting stuff, I’m going to throw it away.

AM Homes - Who she?
Another book, a novel, “May We Be Forgiven”, for which Homes won the Women’s Fiction Prize.
It’s good but not that good. Too many detours, red herrings, unnecessary paddings.
But worth reading anyway, at times moving and funny and an absolute action packed tour de force.

What are Chinese Lanterns?
There’s been a horrific industrial fire in a recycling warehouse; fire investigators blame a single Chinese lantern seen floating above stacks of packed recycling material on CCTV images. We only knew the horticultural variety of Chinese lanterns which look very pretty but have never been known to cause more than a rash.

Nouns Of Assembly
A breakfast ramble. We were arguing about collective nouns, in particular jackdaws and rooks.  We have hundreds of these noisy, greedy, gregarious birds, at this time of year they bring along their entire families; all my clapping, shouting and beating a pillow with a stick to mimic a shot doesn’t frighten them into leaving.
Jackdaws collectively are known as a train or a clattering, whereas rooks collectively are a building or parliament. I like the phrase  'a murder of crows’ , another member of the genus Corvus.

Etymology of ‘barbecue’
The reason for wanting to know this is easy, we’ve just been to one. There are lots of explanations but the most likely one is that the word originally came from the West Indian “barbacoa” which denotes slow-cooking meat over hot coals.

There you are, all of it totally innocuous and inoffensive, not a search term amongst them which would give a spook cause for a sharp intake of breath. And all thanks to Mr. Google. It would have taken me days to assemble and dig through book information on these subjects.

Now there’s a thought - would that have been more fun?


  1. Years ago(after my cat, Briege, bit him harshly)Don typed~ How to Kill a Cat Without Having it Traced Back To Foul Play~into my personal computer search engine. He did it on purpose to see if I would look in my cache after he'd used my computer. I did, & laughed out loud. Briege still lives. ~Mary

  2. see now you have me wanting to google a few things...i like wasabi for my sushi, but not the nuts and certainly not how was the play? nouns of assembly are pretty interesting though...funny to think, considering the spy scandal what they might be watching...

  3. You have just changed my browsing habits.
    I'll be super careful what I look up and more circumspect in what I believe.
    Governors think they are gods. They show their nice side to get elected but are merciless when caught prying or thieving.
    Snowden et al deserve a medal.

  4. Oh, you're just being paranoid. But ... wait a second. The computer has picked up the following words: emperors, gory, Chinese, horrific, fire, collective, shouting, beating, shot, murder and "slow cooking ... over hot coals." You are in big trouble now. You'd better start arranging political asylum somewhere!

  5. A friend in France tells me his elderly neighbour is worried that the government know about his illicit still from 'phone calls from people arranging to bring their fruit....

    I wonder what would be the collective noun for groups of politicians...a grunt, perhaps?

  6. I'm with you on Snow*den (you'll note that I carefully disguised the word so that search engines won't pick it up from my comment.) We need more people like him who are willing to tell us what governments are doing.
    My searches are as innocuous as yours, garlic scape pesto recipe, Emperor Charles V, black spot on roses, etc. But as Jim commented above, anything can be twisted.

  7. A parliament of rooks - now there's a thought.

  8. You had so many more interesting searches than I. Wasabi chocolate, I must check on that. Do you think there might be a plot to burn up old people's stomachs.

  9. I love the phrase 'nouns of assembly'. Thank you so much - I had only known it as collective nouns before.
    My searches too are usually dull, dull and a tad boring as well.
    Good luck to those whose job it is to examine them. Is terminal boredom compensible do you think?

  10. It is addictive though ... take care !

  11. They tell me that there are very clear recipes for bombs and certain drugs available to anyone on the 'net. I'd love to see if it's true, but I'm afraid.

  12. Boucan is the Carribe word for such bar b qui ng that gave us Buccaneers.

    Re- wasabi chocolate. The Incas ate their cocoa with chili's!

    Those Chinese planters, so called are miniature hot air balloons recently outlawed in Honolulu to the relief of the fire fighters.

    I agree, the web has enriched my life - such as knowing You, Friko. I put nothing on the web I don't stand behind. Frankly I'm glad London has so many cameras, New York PD do intelligence work, etc. Now we are finding that France also patrols the web as our NSA does. I value the freedom of security in my person,tell citizens, loved ones.

    Is any of this really news?

    Aloha, dear F

    1. Please excuse the over zealous 'corrections' of my nexus pad! Grrrrr!

  13. A renaissance woman, you are, with that variety of googling topics! My BIG ONE for today was R. Murray Schafer, a Canadian composer I'd never heard of who wrote a whole lot of interesting, listenable works, and he's an environmentalist, to boot. Yup, the internet presents a condundrum, but without it, how would we ever find our wasabi chocolates (pretty weird, I agree), and R. Murray Schafers?

  14. There cannot actually be a person who looks at these things and makes the connections... can there? Who hires them and can I apply? :-)

  15. A building of rooks? A parliament of rooks? A train, a clattering (which is so descriptive). Where do they get these words? Who makes this stuff up. Do they sit around and try to out do each other?

    I'm pretty sure the NSA has checked out a blog post or two of mine. I've seen government addresses in the stats. A couple of my alphabet posts came up in certain searches so I was getting hits form the middle east a lot and Europe and America too. I was glad when those posts finally stopped showing up. One time though, in the early days of my website I started seeing a lot of hits from sites in Arabic, a lot and it would spike sometimes. They obviously were not visiting my web site and it got a little spooky with all the unrest so I made some inquiries and eventually contacted the FBI and I documented all the visits and info in the stats and passed it along to them. I never heard anything after that but those 'visits' from the middle east stopped.

  16. I have a lot of admiration for Edward Snowden. He is in a nasty position now and doesn't seem to get much sympathy in his country of origin. People are like sheep when it comes to forming their own opinions. I wish Western European governments had the balls to grant him asylum, but they dance to the music of the good old US of A.

  17. Hi Friko - absolutely not .. don't read the book on information - it would be of Brobdingnagian proportions ... and we'd never hear from you again.

    I too have a lot of admiration for Snowden - I just hope all turns out well for him .. but I suspect .... Ellen's story is a little disturbing ..

    However I think frankly if anyone is interested in me - they've got their head screwed on the wrong way ...

    Now to get murdering, parliamentary gatherings, clatterings of train lines ... I do love those collective names we have ... Wasabi chocolate bars - right murder them!

    ... but the Chinese lanterns are dreadful .. those little wires break up and get eaten by birds, cows and sheep alike ... getting into their gut .. and leading to terrible death. Far worse damage to the landscape - so in fact perhaps that fire (thankfully no-one was injured) was a good thing ...

    Beautiful weather .. enjoy the garden, and your walks ... cheers Hilary

  18. Frico, may be the game, but take care!

  19. Look what you've done. I just had to Google wasabi chocolate and yes, ugh!

    As far as the internet traffic monitoring is concerned, if anyone official is interested in my little life and has the time or energy actually to read anything I write, I say good luck to them. They won't find anything worth the effort. :-) Joking apart, I too think Edward Snowden deserves a medal, not persecution, as someone has to hold the powers-that-be to some kind of account.

  20. My computer seems to pick up on porn no matter what I put in. I generally get what I am after in the end, but is beats me how an innocent question manages to throw up such junk. Have a good week, Diane

  21. It really is amazing what we can find via search engines like Google... and it truely is amazing what some people search for!

  22. If somebody looked through my Google searches this week, they'd probably get a severe headache, too!

  23. Love wasabi, love chocolate -- but that sounds vile. I figure if one lives a relatively blameless life, curiosity will never be punished. But then, maybe that's wishful thinking!

  24. Your searches are fascinating. I also love the 'research' I can do so simply with Google. Whatever did we do before we had this amazing tool?

  25. Nouns of assembly? That one is the best.

  26. Love those collective nouns. I didn't know them as we don't have those birds here - luckily.

  27. Since most of my searches are for things-visual, I'm afraid Big Brother would only find me confusing (hands, monsters, party dresses, pigs, chickens, how to make a manhattan, etc.). As for Mr.Snowden-- regardless of what I think about his deeds, I don't think he really thought things through before he sang and, regardless, is now under the control of some other power-that-be (or wanna-be, as the case may be ;)).

  28. Thanks for providing all those fascinating snippets that out of sheer laziness I probably wouldn't have searched for!

  29. I love Google and use it frequently. And frankly, I could care less who knows what I Google. I do understand, however, that it's the principle of the thing...


  30. Your post made me chuckle all the way through--but then Tom Sightings remark almost made me spit my coffee on my keyboard! LOL! ;)

  31. Oh, Friko, please feel free to write whatever comes up in your mind in your blog. By knowing your face, I feel familiar while reading. If you’d like to see me, scroll down and down to the bottom.

    I remember Kazuyoshi Miura’s case. He was suspected for the murder of his wife in the US but he was sentenced not guilty in Japan after long trials. When he wrote “I’m going to Saipan.” on his Facebook, he was arrested in Saipan, sent to the US jail and he killed himself in the prison.

    Authority surveillance has spread so far. I think it’s good to let the cameras on the streets catch criminals or criminal moment. But wait, what is a crime? There was a time in the past when just speaking ill of the government was a criminal act. We must keep it in our mind, authorities will do what they want. People in power can be more dangerous than criminals. I guess I read George Orwell’s too much.

    Happy blogging to you.



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