Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Straightneck General

Tuesday I was at an all-day meeting down in Dubuque. Took my new cell phone with me— that cell phone which blessedly does not work out here in the countryside— and found that it did indeed work in and around Dubuque. In fact, it worked all the way along Highway 20 to Dyersville, a good 25 miles west of Dubuque; and from there north through New Vienna and Luxemburg. Didn't really cut out for good till I began that last steep descent down toward Guttenberg.

The excellent coverage all along Highway 20 was no doubt due to the microwave towers which you would see standing along the highway every mile or two. This somehow reminds me of a routine that my brother and I developed, back when we were kids, almost 40 years ago.

My memory is that even back in those days there were occasional microwave towers, though nothing like you'll see nowadays. Anyhow, my brother and I got off into how these towers were under the authority of the "Straightneck General," who was a stern government figure, sort of like the Attorney General, or the Solicitor General, or the Surgeon General, or somesuch. The idea was, when you got near one of these radio towers, it would send out microwaves, like a radar signal, to check whether you were holding your neck up perfectly straight. And if your neck wasn't straight— if you were slouching, or generally exhibiting poor posture— then the Straightneck General would send out his government agents to arrest you and prosecute you.

Eh. The NSA playing six-degrees-of-separation connect-a-dot with every phone call in the country. The British government tracking the movement of every vehicle in the UK with license-plate-reading cameras, and storing records of their movement in a longterm centralized database. Total Information Awareness, which never quite seems to die, no matter how many times Congress drives a stake through its heart. The possibility that Fast Food will become the next Big Tobacco. Your grocery purchases, passed over the supermarket checkout scanner, stored in a database somewhere. Legally mandated health insurance in Massachusetts.

And now Federal guidelines that "health care professionals [should] treat all women capable of conceiving a baby as 'pre-pregnant' from menarche through menopause," which means that "all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control."

Yeah, right. Forty years ago the Straightneck General was funny, as in funny ha-ha, or as in tinfoil-hat funny. Today I'm afraid the Straightneck General is only slightly more far-fetched than many governmental intrusions which are already in place, or already on the horizon.

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Blogger Richmond said...

Holy crap! Does this mean I'm considered to be in a constant state of pre-knockeduppedness for the duration of my 30's and 40's???

But what about cocktail hour? Can that take that away?? This is terrible news....

Wait until I tell my hubby that he is "potentially" (according to the Govt.) going to be a father again. Vasectomy or no...

Friday, May 19, 2006 3:12:00 PM  

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