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.
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?