So there I was at Staples, replenishing the manila-envelope and Sharpie supplies, when I passed an end-cap display for some sort of…camera? No, a camera system. For security? It’s running a demo loop, let’s watch: An attractive middle-aged woman climbs onto her elliptical trainer and starts working out, smiling down at the monitor, where she sees? Her teenage son, doing homework somewhere else in the house.
I was speechless. It didn’t take long, did it, for us to accept surveillance cameras not just in our public spaces, not just on light standards staring down on red-light runners, in virtually every corner of the world where they can be justified in the name of safety, but in our homes? It starts with baby monitors, I guess. Kate’s was probably the last generation to be surveilled by audio alone; it gentled my rattled new-mother nerves to know she wasn’t upstairs being eaten by a tiger.
(Later, I tried to chase down a story I heard through a remove or two, about an interoffice romance that had gone bad. She suspected he was up to something with another woman, so she hid a baby monitor in a little-used file drawer in his office, and put the receiver in her own desk. If it hadn’t been for a sudden burst of static one day, it might have gone on for some time.)
Then it was governors on cars; you could install aftermarket accessories that would reveal exactly whether she’d told her old man she was at the library, when she was really having fun fun fun at the hamburger stand. Then they were factory-installed, and we called it OnStar. What else? Keystroke monitors for computers. Constant text-messaging. (At least that’s voluntary.) And for every eye-roll you can think of, there’s a counter story, a case cracked because someone sauntered under a camera, or a stolen car recovered because OnStar was able to hit the kill switch, a kidnap victim able to get her hands on a cell phone and make a call.
Still. If I were that kid? I’d spray-paint the lens and tell mom to get a life.
So, what are you doing at the moment? I’m grading papers, cursing the adverb and looking to the bloggage. Which is?
A lyrical conundrum, solved: Steve Perry finally admits no, there is no such thing as “south Detroit,” as he sings in “Don’t Stop Believin’.” He does explain the origin of “streetlight people,” and as you might expect, it’s lame. As for SoDet (otherwise known as Windsor), he acknowledges it was a little poetic license. I recall how stunned I was to hear that there is no Gower Avenue in Los Angeles, as Warren Zevon’s chorus sang so wonderfully in “Desperadoes Under the Eaves.” It’s Gower Street, which just isn’t as lyrical. I don’t think I could do that. Accuracy is important.
Those of you who are higher-ed nerds — or who pay tuition in Michigan — might enjoy this project in Bridge, my new employer, by Ron French, comparing Michigan’s college costs to other states’. The results aren’t flattering.
I wonder if she’s selling her house in Arizona? Bristol Palin heads home.
Happy Wednesday, all. I think I might survive this week, but the jury’s still out.