Through the stained glass windows the daylight burst in, sending sparkling shafts of light into the church. Yet the little ghost remained. Barely visible, yes, but to all who were still adjusting their eyes to the contrast of darkness and brightness inside, it was plainly there. It was a little girl ghost dressed in a thread-bare shift that came down to her knees and was tied loosely at the waist. She wore black boots and white socks, neatly cuffed at the ankles. She held her face tautly, as if afraid to speak or scream or curse, whatever little girl ghosts are wont to do on a Sunday in the middle of the coldest winter anyone could remember.
Here’s a link to a highly interesting article from MIT Technology Review on “The Real Privacy Problem,” by Evgeny Morozov:
And this is my favorite paragraph, describing how our data might be used against us (now and in the future):
“Thanks to smartphones or Google Glass, we can now be pinged whenever we are about to do something stupid, unhealthy, or unsound. We wouldn’t necessarily need to know why the action would be wrong: the system’s algorithms do the moral calculus on their own. Citizens take on the role of information machines that feed the techno-bureaucratic complex with our data. And why wouldn’t we, if we are promised slimmer waistlines, cleaner air, or longer (and safer) lives in return?”
One of my favorite writers is Hans Christian Andersen. I realize his stories may be a bit too downbeat and moralistic for some people’s taste, but I’ve always loved the way he says so much in such simple ways, all the while taking his characters and the reader on fully imagined (and imaginative) journeys. Here is one passage I like to read every so often from The Little Mermaid. (For those of you who are only familiar with the Disney version of the story, the original tale is quite dark.) This scene, from the beginning of the story, depicts the little mermaid as she contemplates the world beyond the ocean. I like the sweep and feel of this passage—again, told with such simplicity.
“Many a night this quiet, thoughtful little mermaid would stand by the open window, looking up through the dark blue waters where the fishes swam. She could see the moon and the stars; they looked paler but larger down here under the sea. Sometimes a great shadow passed by like a cloud and then she knew that it was either a whale or a ship, with its crew and passengers, that was sailing high above her. None on board could have imagined that a little beautiful mermaid stood in the depths below them and stretched her little white hands up toward the keel of their ship.”
[From A Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen, translated from the Danish by Eric Christian Haugaard, c1974]