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Thursday, November 6, 2014

All I Seem To Do Lately


Above is a Normaphoto of me on the phone to far away offices with strange-sounding names, cheerfully demonstrating an astonishing degree of ignorance. Mercifully cropped from the frame is a drift of brochures and forms --paper forms because I don't understand electronic contracts-- that have occupied my every spare moment for two months, and promise to occupy more months. I remember a time when a series of simple insurance transactions were accomplished in minutes and did not stretch out so and threaten to become a way of life.

Times change, of course, and progress demands electronic intimacy between personal accounts and providers, but I don't like it. I still have two dollars I don't want them to know about. So I decline this brash new technological efficiency for fear I'll disappear in a puff of logic, and tell them so. They doubtless have some coded category in Boolean algebra for my species of idiot but it cannot be entirely defined --it's in the Bible: "The perverse are hard to be corrected and the number of fools is infinite"(Ecclesiastes 1:15, Douay-Rheims American Edition).

Infinity is so big and various that I have used my mental remains to design protection for their residue. I'm not talking about aluminum foil hats here. I'm talking about tinfoil, which is alloyed with lead to keep it from cracking. A hat of leaded tinfoil would deflect all sorts of quantum incursions that aluminum lets right in like a moose through a hole in a window screen.

Consider improvements in human communities that resulted from early plumbing, which was all lead. Yes, lead has a toxicity that lowers the intelligence of those repeatedly exposed to it but many things that advance civilization make us a little stupid --like tinfoil hats and electronic contracts. Excuse me, I have just confused myself.

 



24 comments:

  1. I wish this was incomprehensible. How I wish it.
    Good luck...

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  2. You have confused me too. I believe you were trying to contact someone about some sort of insurance. Boolean algebra is no help in this realm. Binary codes would be helpful if the person you spoke to could understand it. Yes/no; on/off is what you need.

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    1. Yes, consistent and accurate information would help too.

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  3. Dear Geo.,
    I prefer paper too (though I use computers in areas that are definitely not safe). Contracts often are very long, and they want to hurry us through it, but I don't let me hurry ("I'll read it at home, dear, especially that interesting small print") - "Oh, that's unimportant and time-consuming - suscribe here!" Even the signature they take now on a computer pad (and at the bank they looked a bit hurt when I said: "Now that you have it you can sign everything with it" - but it is true - it can be an ideal advanced way of forgery). A friend of mine, a publisher, wrote a very funny serial with the thousands of letters he changed with a telephone provider whom he wanted to leave - hilarious for us, for him a necessity not to explode...)
    As to tin hats - I am not sure. Maybe leaden mittens would be better - preventing us from keying in on the computer and smartphone?

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    1. I try to read the fine print but it's couched in legal-language. For all I know I've signed a promise to marry some executive's great grandmother.

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  4. Hoots is a far more acceptable version of a machinated future. Only yesterday I despaired of my electricity provider (they used to be called companies) whilst repeatedly typing the account number they sent me which their own system then refused to recognise. There are grades pf perverse, I think: we are good grade, obviously, the upper end. Being confused by impersonal modernity is the mark of a gentleman, I am sure of it.
    Tin is a national hero in Cornwall. We have a flag for it still (black for the dark rock, a white cross symbolises tin ore) but the old mines are long closed. Perhaps I shall go and live in one, smugly off-grid, and make tinfoil hats for a living. I favour a pirate style, three pointed. I should make one for Hoots too, since he now represents hope in an age of droning systems. I hope your two dollars stay unknown and that your ear doesn't get too hot from all the telephoning xx

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    1. I suspect they call themselves providers to project a parental image. The pirate-theme for tinfoil hats is terrific!

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  5. "many things that advance civilization make us a little stupid" - couldn't agree more Geo! :) have a great weekend sir.

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    1. Thanks, Keith. I send off my first wave of signed forms this afternoon so it should be a good weekend, You have one too!

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  6. I like your summary--anything that advances civilization makes us a little more stupid!

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    1. Lead plumbing, gas coming up from carpets, auto exhaust --the list is nearly endless!

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  7. 'I still have two dollars I don't want them to know about.'

    :) Me, too.

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    1. Ok, that makes 4 dollars. We may have started a movement.

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  8. Remember Huxley's quote? "Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means of going backwards."

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    1. Quite apt! I also like Jerome Agel's, "The future will be full of amazing things that will make us crazy."

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  9. Good luck, dude. I think insurance companies purposely create mounds and mounds of needless and indecipherable paperwork (upon whose meaning no two insurance company employees agree.) Their intention may to have us simply throw our hands up in the air and give up. Still, dealing with the paperwork beats handling it electronically:

    "A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history – with the possible exception of handguns and tequila." [Mitch Ratcliffe]

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    1. Thanks, Susan. My former employer withdrew its retirees' health contract from a huge agency, with which it dealt for 40 years, and flung it all directions at once. I've been attending seminars and workshops for 2 months with thousands of other confused folks and only now beginning to sort it out. Love the quote!

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  10. We do seem to spend a lot of time with the phone to our ear...press 1 if you are getting annoyed, press 2 if you have a desire to place a loaded gun to your head, press 3 if you've given up and gone to have a lie down. Nothing like that automated voice to make you feel less than human.

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    1. Yes, I often go lie down after such calls --but there's a certain joy in finding the lonesome human behind all the answering machines. They answer questions and give directions through forms...it's almost conspiratorial!

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  11. Oh, the frustration and fatigue! Any forward motion or progress seems like a blessing, but only after a jungle maze of confusion, obfuscation, complexity and bastardly assault on simple English communication. We hope for longanimity.

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    1. Indeed, Tom. One longs for longanimity.

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  12. Hi Geo - I hope all will be well .. forms I am not happy with them either! I pluck up courage, sit down quietly, clear the table, gather my glasses ... and start - then make a hash .. and have to rethink. Good luck.

    Re lead: Julius Caesar invaded us (you then too!) to plunder our mineral treasures ... galena was the Roman's most important mineral .. the ore from which lead or plumbum was garnered .... sadly it took us another 1800 years to realise it was deadly over time ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary. I repeat your excellent system over and over with paperwork and make slow progress --probably from all the lead in my ancestry.

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