The latest shocker from Hollywood has Brittany Murphy as the victim of possible foul play, and a short while later her husband also became a victim by dying under the same circumstances. Murphy, according to recent lab reports, seems to have been murdered by long term poisoning.
It just suddenly occurred to me this morning that everybody (and I mean everybody) has got a cell phone (or mobile phone if you’re English or European). Not only that, but, a good portion of these people have got an iPhone. If they do not have an iPhone, they have some other form of touch screen phone that uses the Android operating system.
I do not have either an iPhone or an Android operated touch screen phone. But I do have a mobile phone, a BlackBerry if you must know (and if you follow my blog you do know because I did a post about it) and as I said in my previous post, it’s almost too much phone for me to handle.
But here’s the interesting (or possibly disturbing) bit. Did you know that when you take a picture with your iPhone and upload via Instagram that the picture is automatically “marked” with a location code? This code is a boon to stalkers, cyber and otherwise. In essence where you take your photos is where you are. Easy to track and find.
And after checking just now, I’ve learned that Android pictures that are uploaded to the net also have the location of the picture. I also found out that you can turn off the location code part of your pictures on both operating systems.
On another track, most phones have GPS capability. I know I’ve used mine to get directions from where I am at the time. Just another great little device that also allows anyone like say a stalker find out where you are; or more helpfully the police if you are lost or missing.
There are other ways for people to find out where you are though besides the location codes on your uploaded pictures; applications like foursquare, for example, allow you to Tweet where you are at that particular moment. If your stalker (sorry I mean friends) miss you at your current location they at least know that you frequent the place and have a good chance of catching you there (pun intended).
I seem to have a real “bug in my ear” about these modern-day communication devices that everyone seems to need. Oh and while I am on about the communication aspect of mobile phones, I’ll just mention how easy it is for a third-party to listen to your calls. I used the word party as a reference to the old “party” lines that the phone companies used in the old days. A party line meant you shared your landline with a group of other folks who could listen in on your phone calls, just like the mobile phone. Sorry, I know I’ve mentioned that twice now.
It’s no wonder that I feel like it is still 1984 and big brother is not only watching but the nosey bugger is listening as well. Modern technology is pretty great, but it is also intrusive. Not only that, but I am sure that the government likes being able to know where you are and what you are saying. Terrorist plots aside, these guys must know the best gossip about everyone who is someone.
The thing that amazes me more than the ability to find and listen to you while you have this mobile communication device on your body is the “about-face” on the “safety” of mobile phones.
A scant 10 years ago, scientists were warning about the “overuse” of mobile phones. They went on record stating that the things emitted too much radiation to be healthy (especially for the young and the elderly) and that they were basically cancerous tumours just waiting to happen. Not only that, but they were bad for your ears.
Now I don’t remember exactly but I am pretty sure the tumours were not ear related but brain related and all the information they trotted out was pretty scary. It was scary enough that I remember warning my then young daughter about using the thing too much.
But wait a minute; no one is talking about how hazardous the mobile phone is any longer. It seems that all those tumours and ear damage have disappeared. I could not figure out why until I had a major epiphany while writing this post.
People do not talk on their mobile phones nearly as much as they text on them.
Presumably that is why the scare mongering over the health threatening mobile phone has diminished. Not because the government want to keep tabs on us. (Even though we know that they really do) It is because that scant 10 years ago, the prophetic scientists could not know that texting would bypass talking on these “dangerous” devices.
I have yet to hear of one person who has gotten a life threatening tumour on their index finger from prolonged texting.
So the mobile phone continues to be a necessity for everyone over the age of 7? Presumably it is because I have seen children that young (and younger) talking on one and carrying it about; again one of the handier aspects of the GPS thing. I am sure that these young consumers even text on their mobiles, the spelling should not present a problem since texting does not require one to spell correctly.
Sorry, I really do need to wind this post up soon or it will cease being a pithy comment on mobile phones and their ubiquitous existence in today’s society and more of a paranoiac rant on stalkers and the government keeping tabs on the world’s citizens.
Besides, I need to get my Blackberry instruction book back out; I can’t seem to get foursquare to work on it properly and my Twitter has lost its link and my Facebook app won’t delete my updates. I also need to take a couple of pictures with my camera and sort out the video camera as well. And while I am at it, I may just type a new blog post on my WordPress application…
Stephen Leather‘s The Chinaman is another of his earlier titles published initially in 1992. It is about a Vietnamese refugee’s hunt for justice after his wife and daughter are murdered by an IRA subversive group who aren’t playing by the cease-fire rules.
Leather writes about the IRA a lot. His books include characters that are in the Irish Republican Army or are people who have been a part of “the troubles” or have been affected by it.
In The Chinaman, we see the occupants of a department store going about their Christmas shopping. In particular we see the Nguyen family shopping. The girl, sixteen is stunningly beautiful and her mother looks years older than her actual age. We don’t get a chance to learn much about the two women as a motorbike rider has left his bike and a semtex parcel outside the store and in seconds they both become casualties of the resulting explosion.
Nguyen goes to the police to see what is being done about finding the men responsible and they direct him to the Terrorist Branch. He learns from them that it is a political problem; he then goes to the Irish politician who fronts Sinn Fein and reaches a brick wall. Nguyen then decides to take matters into his own very capable hands.
Nguyen is one of the “boat people” who escaped from Vietnam with his family after the war. Initially he fought with the Viet Cong and he switched sides when he realised that life in the NVRA wasn’t to his families benefit. Working with the Americans he fought the North Vietnamese. He is a skilled bomb maker and very able to kill someone with his bare hands. While everyone he comes in contact with see him as the owner of a Chinese food takeaway shop, he is more than his job and he is a sum of his past experiences.
While Nguyen takes on the IRA, the politician who is the spokesman for Sinn Fein, Liam Hennessy is in a race to catch this rogue IRA cell who are violating the cease-fire and killing innocent women and children. Hennessy’s got a traitor in the organisation that is supporting the cell. He must find out who it is and use the traitor to help him stop the rogue cell. Since Nguyen has targeted Hennessy as the person that can tell him who killed his family, Hennessy is also hoping to tell the “Chinaman” that the men responsible have been punished. If he does not tell Nguyen quickly enough, he will kill him.
It is amusing to see everyone in the book refer to the Vietnamese refugee as a Chinaman. Reminiscent of westerns where the characters call anyone with a German or Austrian accent Dutchie, because Nguyen is oriental a somewhat illogical conclusion is made to Hong Kong and he becomes the Chinaman. It is a nice touch and it’s one that mirrors real life. Another mirroring effect is Leather’s use of the IRA in his books.
When I first came to the United Kingdom, the IRA was still bombing civilian targets and killing women and children in support of their cause. Americans had (and a lot still do) a much romanticized idea about the Irish terrorist group and what they were doing. I am sure that good public relations, aka fund-raisers did not help to dispel this romantic version of terrorism.
I was on a bus tour in London October 1982. It was full of US servicemen and women and their families. The tour guide was doing what tour guides the world over do. “If you look to your right you’ll see ______ and if you look straight ahead you’ll see_____.” Right in the middle of his spiel he paused and with an emotional quaver in his voice said, “Earlier this year, the IRA blew up the Queen’s Horses.” Wiping his eyes with one hand he continued, “How on earth could your fellow countrymen support such people? Who did those horses ever harm? Three soldiers died and quite a lot of tourists were injured by the bomb. Why would you support such a thing? Why?”
The bus I was on was silent. I don’t know what everyone else thought, but I was ashamed of the fact that my fellow countrymen had supported this group. The IRA was a fact of life in this country for years, centuries. I’ve worked with men who had the unbelievably terrifying job of patrolling Ireland and searching for the “soldiers” of the Irish Republic Army.
I’ve never seen them as soldiers, terrorists are not soldiers. The picture that Steven Leather paints of the participants of this organisation is one of devout fanaticism and hatred of the British troops and the British government. Of course the picture also includes the religious roots of Ireland and the divide that enabled this “war,” or the troubles as the Irish refer to it, to go on for so long.
When Mr Leather writes his stories, he shows that the IRA still has a firm supporting base from not only American sympathisers, but from Syrian and Palestinian terrorist groups. He describes the far reach that the organisation has and exactly what lengths both sides are prepared to go to.
The Chinaman is a cracking good read and moves at a good pace. It is another example of just how entertaining this author is and will be for some time to come.
I give The Chinaman a 4 and a half stars out of five.