Monday’s Discover Playlist (#2)

justin Discover Playlist, Music, Spotify Leave a Comment

Another Monday has rolled upon us (or over us, in some cases), so it’s time for another installment of the Discover Playlist: a.k.a “what Spotify thinks Justin should be listening to so his co-workers don’t have to listen to PUP again all day.”

Aside from the one wild week where my entire playlist was Tejano music (who knows what wires got crossed that week), the playlist has been a pretty good reflection of my tastes. As I mentioned before, there are old faves and new stuff that I probably should have already been listening to. Very rarely is there a track that I just have to skip over.

1. Take On Me – Cap’n Jazz
2. Gone All Summer – Cheap Girls
3. Caboose – Snapcase
4. Blast Off! – Rivers Cuomo
5. She Got Harder – Gøggs
6. Bad Girl – The Detroit Cobras
7. Headache – Metz
8. Family Tree – Black Lips
9. Forkboy – Lard
10. Beat My Guest – Adam & the Ants
11. What Do You Want Me to Say? – Dismemberment Plan
12. Mañana – Desaparecidos
13. Amplifier – Jucifer
14. Like Weeds – His Hero is Gone
15. Black and White – The dB’s
16. Cool – Tigers Jaw
17. Deformative – Black Eyes
18. The D in Detroit – The Anniversary
19. Annie’s a Witch – LVL UP
20. Digsaw – The Wytches
21. Single Again – The Firey Furnaces
22. Wrecked – White Fang
23. Just as the Day Was Dawning – Big Business
24. Who Are You?? – Void
25. Theme from Krill – Krill
26. Where’s My Dini? – Ovlov
27. Hey Allison! – Jeff Rosenstock
28. See You Later Fuckface – The Queers
29. Satyagraha – 7 Seconds
30. Tube Disaster – Flux of Pink Indians

Friday Playlist (10/14/16)

justin Friday Playlist, Music, Popular Culture Leave a Comment

So it’s been a touch over five years since I last did a Friday Playlist kind of thing. That’s about three years too long since I’ve tortured people with my musical opinion! I could wax poetic about how what I’ve been listening to has changed so drastically over the past half-decade, but you and I both know that is just crap. I still have the same terrible-ish taste and I’m always happy to foist it on others.

So, with that re-intro out of the way, let’s get down to business! All of the following tracks are available on Spotify and can even be found on a handy-dandy playlist on my user page. OK, here we go!

1. Tommy Hale – Magnificent Bastard
I’m just going to admit this right up front: Tommy is a friend of mine. I’ve been excited for this new record of his to come out for well over a damn year. Tommy throws together this fascinating mix of new sound and old grit which shows up incredibly well in Magnificent Bastard. Tommy out stickies Sticky Fingers in this magnificent track.

2. PUP – DVP
I honestly don’t know where I found PUP, but they have quickly become a favorite of mine. The sentiment is very much like early Descendents songs (girls hate me, I have problems, “I don’t wanna grow up,” etc.), but PUP has put it all out there with a very distinctly face-forward sound. DVP is a great rallying song.

3. Russian Circles – Asa
I can’t say enough about Russian Circles. This Chicago trio could be one of the greatest bands I’ve ever seen live. I chose Asa off of their latest record Guidance because it really isn’t like any other track they’ve ever put on a record. Most tracks they lay out dive right into the heavy layers of what they do so well, but there is just something incredibly simple about Asa that makes it one of my favorite tracks of theirs. I should have put the next track on the record, Vorel, right after this one since they pretty much go together (I should probably write an entire feature on songs that should always always be played together), but I thought I’d just leave this little vignette here for you to discover the rest of the record.

4. King Dude – Lucifer’s the Light of the World
Ahh King Dude. I, like many people, found King Dude via the opening credits for the first season of True Detective. His perspective on folk-y dark music is truly unique. There’s a little bit of Michael Gira in it, there’s a little bit of Leonard Cohen, a smidgen of Tom Waits and a smattering of Nick Cave. Goth folk. Who would’ve known?

5. Jon Snodgrass – 1-2-3-4, Won’t Go Down to the Basement No More
Jon Snodgrass is a seriously under-appreciated artist. He’s put out just about a jillion records through his solo projects, Drag the River, Armchair Martian, and Scorpios. This track was written by Snodgrass minutes after finding out of the passing of his friend and Teenage Bottlerocket drummer, Brandon Carlisle. It’s a great twangy track that hits you just right in the feels.

6. Jawbreaker – Oyster
Oh Jawbreaker. I blame this band for listening to any emo music at all (something I’m often loathe to admit). Oyster is one of those tracks that is far less “punky” than say Chesterfield King, but still has that Jawbreaker “oomph” that always grabs my attention. Listening to Dear You these days and I completely see why I’m a Get Up Kids junkie.

7. The Raincoats – Fairytale in the Supermarket
The Raincoats are a band that you aren’t listening to that you should have been listening to for the past thirty years. Fairytale in the Supermarket has, for me, that perfect blend of 70’s punk sound: very DIY-ish, but catchy as all hell. The Raincoats were post-punk while punk was just coming into its own. Listen to it!

8. Aye Nako – Cut it Off
This track reminds me a lot of the pop-punk stuff I listened to through the mid to late 90’s. Cut it Off is a track I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear out of Superchunk around 1997.

9. Speedy Ortiz – No Below
No Below is one of those slow loping tracks that just fills the right kind of void. It’s a touch dark and broody, but damn what a bass line. It’s got a nice slow build and goes straight to fuzz guitar (who doesn’t love some good fuzz guitar?). Again, this one hearkens back to some of the best stuff I listened to in the 90’s.

10. Hop Along – Tibetan Pop Stars
I love Frances Quinlan’s voice and Tibetan Pop Stars showcases her range like crazy. This is one of those songs that gets stuck in my head all the damn time. If you aren’t listening to Hop Along, you really really should be.

I think I’m going to let my car pick next week’s playlist. It’s oddly amazing at running the random on my daily commute.

On the merits of Spotify #1

justin Awesomeness, Discover Playlist, Music, Popular Culture, Spotify Leave a Comment

I’ve been a big (paying) fan of Spotify for about five years.  Yeah, the early years were a bit shaky, but there is just something about being able to find almost all of my old faves on a music service that pretty much goes wherever I go.

Because I listen to such an odd diversity of artists and genres, one of my favorite things each Monday is seeing what is on the “Discover Weekly” playlist that the machine spits out for me. If you are not familiar, Spotify pulls together a playlist of personalized suggestions each week mixing old faves with new discoveries.  I find mine generally enjoyable.  Since this list is “personalized,” I thought I would start sharing it here in case anybody else gave a rat’s ass.

  1. (I Got A) Catholic Block – Sonic Youth
  2. Sugarcube – Yo La Tengo
  3. Strong Reaction – Pegboy
  4. Let’s Get Drugs – Zeke
  5. I was Wrong – Social Distortion
  6. The Bad Arts – Destroyer
  7. Hey Friend – JEFF The Brotherhood
  8. Come Back Life – Kadavar
  9. Unreal is Here – Chavez
  10. Plenty For All – Hot Snakes
  11. Something About You – Terry Malts
  12. Pablo Picasso – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
  13. Chinese Rocks – Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers
  14. The Mountain – Heartless Bastards
  15. Bellbottoms – The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
  16. Suspect Device – Stiff Little Fingers
  17. The Quark – Hard Girls
  18. Oh, Susquehanna! – Defiance, Ohio
  19. Hybrid Moments – Helvetia
  20. The Classical – The Fall
  21. My Girlfriend’s Dead – The Vandals
  22. Winona – Drop Nineteens
  23. Stormy Weather – Reigning Sound
  24. Jacking the Ball – The Sea and Cake
  25. Third Uncle – Bauhaus
  26. Shark Fin Blues – The Drones
  27. He War – Cat Power
  28. Now It’s On – Grandaddy
  29. Blank Stare – Solids
  30. Let’s Get Out Of Here – Les Savy Fav




I just happen to have a chance cube here…

justin D&D, Games, monkey, Popular Culture, Ravings, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

diceSomewhere around mid-August, 2014, I, along with a handful of old friends and a couple soon-to-be old friends, embarked on a new and fantastical journey. A journey that was so epic that I just had to use up all acceptable commas in my opening sentence. A journey into the Fifth Edition of the perennial classic Dungeons and Dragons.

Yes, there are tomes upon tomes to be written about the over two years of adventure (hand-baked by our very own intrepid and super-creative Dungeon Master), but I want to scrawl today about the most important part of the D&D experience: the dice.

Any seasoned gamer has at least one set of dice that can do no wrong. Said seasoned gamer probably also has about three or four sets that can absolutely do no right. Fickle thing, though, that set may change day to day and game to game.

I, personally, have between eight and eleven full dice sets in my “D&D bag” for any given gathering. That being said, I generally only roll from two to three sets. If I’m feeling especially crazy (and/or inebriated), I’ll give one of my direly unlucky dice a toss to see if it may gain my good graces again and be deemed worthy of getting regular play. To put that into context, I carry around between fifty-six and seventy-seven small chunks of colored plastic and embue upon them a sacred reverence so that they be good to me (thank you, RNG-sus) and grant me all the crits a Dragonborn Barbarian could want (which is all of them). Let’s get a little crazier, shall we? Of said fifty-six to seventy-seven chunks of colored plastic, I generally only toss two or three on a given night of adventuring. That means–if you are math-inclined–that there are fifty-three to seventy-four of these small plastic polyhedral chunks that I carry around with great reverence just for the sake of fearing what might happen if I did not have them with me.

Yes, my dear non-initiated, that is how it works. The only thing we adventurers fear more than a wrathful Dungeon Master is the terrifying lie of those polyhedral baubles.

Some of us are cavalier about our throws: grabbing whatever d20 (that’s a twenty-sider for those not hip to the lingo) and chucking it gallantly to the table. On the opposite side of that d2 are players like me. In my case, any attack will always be made by either the red or opal-white dice kept in my Hex Chest. All other actions require an in-depth understanding of some of the most insane logic one could imagine. Trap checks (when I’m not just barging through locked doors) are almost always made with my swirly green set (because poison, duh), saving throws are made with my multi-colored carnival set (because carnivals are fun) and so forth and so on.

I understand that it makes absolutely no sense at all to a non-gamer, but this is one of our OCD triggers.

There are even sub-sets of this insanity that express themselves among the folks I’ve played with. There are players who incessantly stack their dice into neat vertical columns, there are players who make sure all of their corralled dice are sorted by shape and, generally, all facing up with the same number, and there are those who will not bring their dice out until they are needed for a throw and then secret them back into their dice bag/box as soon as the throw is read.

Yeah, we’re not weird at all. OK, enough of this. I think my dice need polishing.






Music and Memory: Learning to Embrace Forgetfulness

justin Deep Thinking, Internet, monkey, Music, Popular Culture Leave a Comment

waiter-turntableWay back in 2011, I wrote a piece about how song lyrics and melodies seem to rattle around in my brain for decades at a time. For the most part, five years later, that is still true, but lately I’ve been faced with a newish dilemma that has been making me a tad nuts.

I listen to a lot of music. I zip around genres and styles all damn day depending on my mood and what I stumble across online and through the wonders of Spotify’s Discover Weekly. My big issue now, however, is that I forget about a lot of bands and albums that I’ve been listening to because I flit around so much.

For example, I was organizing my vinyl into the new chunk of furniture we got for just that reason (check out Urbangreen if you want something a bit more substantial than IKEA’s Kallax line.) and came across a passel of records from a band called Weekend. Sadly, I could not remember anything about them. That I had three records of theirs tells me I probably saw them live (I always like buying records directly from the artist: it really helps with tour support), but that was it. Similarly, a five-year-old post on my Facebook Memories page reminded me of The Joy Formidable’s first record just this morning.

My overpacked and failing memory really annoys the ever-living crap out of me. I know that I can only listen to so much music per day, but neglecting albums that should get an occasional nod is just shameful. Needless to say, Weekend is a pretty amazing shoegaze-ish band from San Francisco that I probably saw live a couple of years ago.

I generally keep track of most random tracks I come across through my Spotify Playlist called “Justin’s randomness,” but I’m not always that good at remembering to drop tracks on there.

What I really need is something like Goodreads to keep track of music. I know there are a couple of services that can probably do exactly what I need, but perhaps Spotify needs to add some features that say, “Hey dummy, remember that Grave Pleasures record you listened to three months ago? You probably want to listen to it again.”

Honestly, is it too much to ask to have my own personal music concierge? “Good morning Mr. Bowers, here is your playlist for the day. You may find tracks thirty and sixty-five a bit tedious, but it would be good for you to listen to them anyway.” Shit, maybe I should just start that business.


Losing Heroes and Embracing Purple

justin Awesomeness, Deep Thinking, Music, Popular Culture, Ravings, Religion, Vice Leave a Comment

princeIt’s April 21, 2016 and Prince Rogers Nelson has passed away.  I gotta say that Prince’s death has hit me as much as David Bowie, Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone. I’m sitting here in my home office watching Prince totally nail his Super Bowl XLI halftime performance in what most artists would consider an utterly unperformable situation. It’s pouring down rain and his Purpleness is still killing one of the best live shows that he’s ever pulled off.  He’s a god.

What hurts the most is that Prince is a character I have always just taken for granted.  He came on the scene in a time when I was deeply embroiled in the beginnings of my lifelong love of punk music and he fit right in. The second tape I ever owned was Purple Rain (first being the Who’s Tommy) and I wore the damn thing out. My brother texted me this evening reminding me that I was all set to go see the Purple Rain tour and my folks did not allow me to go.  In one of my typical acts of defiance, I went to the damn show and I’m a far better person for it.

Unlike my other lost musical heroes, Prince came along “late” in the scene. He was a king of the 80’s, and, in my mind, going to be around forever.  I think about myself now at 42 and 57 years of age isn’t that far off. It’s a bit scary considering most of us late Gen-Xers haven’t done squat with ourselves.

Prince introduced masturbation to a lot of us as a casual thing and even motivated devil-whores Phyllis Schlafly and Tipper Gore to meddle in popular culture in the form of the Eagle Forum to “protect” us impressionable youths in the form of the “Tipper Sticker” on albums.  Thanks to you, Prince, I knew all of the albums I was going to buy every time I walked into a music store:  they all had a “Parental Advisory” sticker on them.

Prince bridged a gap in music like few artists have.  He melded rock, soul, punk and funk in a way that few artists have been able to repeat.  He was the purple standard for a lot of us building our lives on music.  There is an urban legend about an interviewer asking Eric Clapton what it was like being the world’s best guitarist and Clapton allegedly responded “I don’t know, ask Prince.”  I believe it. Watching Prince nail out the guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Steve Winwood shows all of that skill and more.  Prince was dedicated to his work.

Sure, the Purple Rain film and Under a Cherry Moon are a tad cheesy, but the are more than genuine.  Prince stayed true to what he wanted to present as art his entire career.  While showy on stage, he was a private man and the media, surprisingly enough, respected that.

I’ll miss him.  If nothing else than for his amazing music and random sense of humor.  Prince believed that musicians and artists should be recognized for their works and not be treated like entertainment commodities.  He did what he loved his entire career and I envy that. The world is a better place for him having been in it and, like with Bowie, it’s going to be hard as hell without him.

I especially want to commend MTV for blocking out their programming today to show Prince videos for hours and hours.  He helped build the channel and it was only fitting that they honor him as such.

Rest well, Prince Rogers Nelson. You’ve influenced millions and we all appreciate you greatly for it.


Reflections on The Force Awakens [spoiler free]

justin Books, Comic Books, Disney, Fiction, Movies, Popular Culture, Ravings, Star Wars Leave a Comment

star-wars-orangesI just want to start this by reiterating the title: this blog post is spoiler free.

For those readers who don’t know me, or don’t know me that well, I’d like to introduce myself. Hi, I’m Justin and I have a serious Star Wars problem. I’ve had an emotional investment in this franchise since 1977 like a lot of other folks around my age. I collected the toys, I read the comics and I even read the couple of semi-crappy spin off novels that came out before everything exploded into awesomeness with the release of Heir to the Empire in 1991. That’s really where the Expanded Universe got it’s teeth. Around the same time, Dark Horse acquired the licensing to make Star Wars comics (and other products) and a mini Renaissance started to build. I promise this all has a point in regard to the new film: I just need to take a slightly circuitous route to get there.

For my fandom, the Expanded Universe really blew the doors off. I read every novel I could get my hands on and even organized a database of chronology so I could keep them all straight. What really set Star Wars aside from other popular properties that had literary tie-ins was that there was a single chronology to the entire thing. Characters created in a novel, comic book or even a video game would pop up in other novels, comic books and video games. The entire Universe was tied together into one giant story. To be honest, there are a handful of characters that never saw any screen time in the films that I have much more of an attachment to than those that did.

That brings us to October 2012 when the Mouse bought the Galaxy Far Far Away. The new movie was quickly announced and all of us Star Wars geeks giggled and shook with anticipation.

On April 25, 2014, everything, at least for me, changed. Lucasfilm announced that the Expanded Universe was no longer canon. All previous materials now fell under the banner of “Star Wars Legends” and a new canon would be built surrounding the new sequel trilogy. I was totally naive to think that wouldn’t happen. From my perspective, I knew exactly what happened after Return of the Jedi and almost 50 years after that. I still think that the events of the New Jedi Order novels would make an incredible series of movies, but I totally get that an entire reboot had to be put in place as this property gained new legs in front of the non-fanatical public.

That brings us to where we are today. The Force Awakens has been released and is probably exceeding all projected goals. I saw it in the historic Texas Theatre at 7PM on December 17th, 2015. I’m a Star Wars geek, so I was “pee myself” excited every step of the way, but there was a tiny part of me that really wanted a story line from the “Legends” bucket.

Unlike the reviled prequels, this movie had great character development and incredibly solid acting. J.J. Abrams continues to create magic and the massive marketing machine at Disney really did a fantastic job at keeping everything under wraps. I thought I might know a general direction the film was going to go based on the teasers and trailers, but I was completely wrong. The visual effects are damn impressive (as expected) and it is really going to suck that I’ve got to wait a couple of years for Episode VIII. When the credits rolled, I wanted it to start right back up again, and I know I was not the only person who felt that way in the theater. Kudos, Disney, you’ve done a good job.

Now we get to move on. I still have a billion little bits of conjecture swirling around in my head, but I can’t wait to see where we are taken next. If you want to lose a couple hours of your life in the geekery of minutiae, hit me up. I’ve got lots of opinions and even a bunch of knowledge of a universe that has now, for all intents and purposes, marginalized. I’ll be happy as hell to share with you the direction I think things might be going and lots of backstory as to why I think it. C’mon, it’ll be fun.

Jólakötturinn Cometh!

justin cats, Ravings Leave a Comment

fashion-catIceland is a marvelous and magical place. Aside from being on my bucket list of places I want to spend some quality time, the tiny Nordic island nation has also provided us with the Sugarcubes, Sigur Rós, the most confusing parts of Die Another Day (probably one of the worst James Bond flicks, IMHO), and, in 2010, the terrifying erruption of Eyjafjallajökull which basically shut down air travel in Europe for several weeks.

Over half of the population believes in elves, trolls and the Huldufolk, and the Christmas Season is the time of year most bounteous with mystique. You have your garden variety “Yule Lads” (jolasveniar) with names like Window-Peeper, Sausage-Swiper, Doorway-Sniffer and Stubby. These thirteen gents terrorize Icelandic children during the last thirteen nights before Christmas Eve and are the children of the mountain trolls Grýla and Leppalúði. If this wasn’t terrifying enough, Grýla also has a cat: Jólakötturinn.

I stumbled upon Jólakötturinn, or the Yule Cat, in my search for a name for the lovely little monster of a black kitten that joined my household a few months ago. As I have often provided my pets with unusual and culturally recherché monikers, I wanted something suitable for the mischievous little monster. Jólakötturinn did not make the cut, and I finally settled on Killakee, but that did not prevent me from doing some digging into just what the Yule Cat was all about.

Basically put, the Yule Cat is one part flesh-eating monster (or, as I like to call it: cat), one part grinch and one giant part Tim Gunn.

Jólakötturinn’s job is to terrorize Icelandic towns and make sure that you have received new clothing for Christmas. If you have not received new clothing, Jólakötturinn may eat you. In some of the nicer, TV Christmas Special and all-around fluffy versions, Jólakötturinn simply steals your presents. I know cats, though and there is no way in hell the Yule Beast is stealing your presents when the option to munch is on the table. I’d like to also think that Jólakötturinn judges people based on what they put out to show off. Put out those JNCO jeans and you are most decidedly going to wake up in the jaws of a giant and ferocious Judgey McJugdgerson.

Aside from Björk’s wonderfully outrageous costumes, I don’t have a lot of exposure to fashionable Icelandic attire. I can imagine a lot of black and dark colors, but that might just me trying to push Ingmar Bergman further west. It would be quite helpful if Jólakötturinn had a fashion blog so the citizenry might prepare themselves for what is to come. I can just imagine it: “Plaids and stripes and houndstooth? Tsk-tsk, this human is definitely going to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I might just have to chew on an Alexander McQueen scarf to make it to the next village.”

Fashion police in cat form is horribly terrifying. My cats may judge me for the tacky things I wear, but at least they aren’t mandated with chewing my legs off if they are unhappy with my lack of couture. There is also the entire socioeconomic issue that Jólakötturinn presents. Too poor to buy something new for Christmas? Oh well, you’re cat food.

If Jólakötturinn decides he wants to venture to the States this Christmas season, then I guess I’m basically hosed. If he doesn’t dig on tacky Star Wars sweaters, then I’ve got nothing.

The Lackluster Return

justin monkey, Ravings, Stupidity Leave a Comment

mehBoy howdy I love me some gaps. It’s been almost three years since I have managed to pull together enough gumption to put my thoughts together enough to vomit them all over your screen.

Sure, there have been several half-baked and half-thought ideas since early 2013, but never any real motivation to gather them concretely and click the “publish” button. The sad thing is that I’ve really lost my voice. I read back over the stuff that used to spill out of me and I’m a tad jealous that I used to be so prolific. Hell, it looks like 2009 and 2010 were a bumper year for my brain-grinding.

It is totally understandable, though. 2010 marked the beginning of a completely new phase in my life that, in a fashion, pushed me to not devote a whole lot of time to exercising that portion of my brain. My workaholic tendencies kicked in and I did little more than devote myself to working. In that way, I disappointed myself in the way I let that muscle atrophy. Popping out pithy tripe used to be a walk in the park and now I have to actually focus on it and that sucks a lot. It’s almost as if the technical side of my brain went ahead and decided that all the unicorn fluff, monkeys flinging poo and unbirthed lolcat memes had to be boxed up and shoved out of the way to make room for server configurations, project schedules, development plans and, shudder, responsive design.

Ultimately, though, who gives a rat’s ass. This post is the proverbial “shaking the dust off” entry to get the little grey cells to look at the world in a slightly different slant. I’m in serious danger of becoming yet another boring 40-something and there is no way in hell that I’m alright with that. Hell, we are a week away from a new Star Wars movie and I’ve nary posted a peep about it. Trust you me, I’ll be submitting myself to a couple hours of quality Jar Jar torture to atone for that crime against humanity. In fact, my lovely girlfriend has yet to see any of the prequels, so we are going to try and motor through those before Episode VII. Yes, I know that large portions of those three movies can get me brought up on Geneva Convention violations, but it’s a necessary evil. At the very least, she’ll get to fully understand where Luke’s whinyness comes from.

OK, time to close the book on this pity party and get ready for everything that is coming up. I didn’t spend that almost three years totally sitting on my thumbs. There’s been books galore, a smattering of video game play that even sparked off a sort of college reunion, music of my “youth” making a triumphant comeback, and the marvelous return of Dungeons and Dragons to my weekly-ish routine. So much potential for such mirth.

Congratulations! You are now the Mayor of the Ministry of Truth

justin Deep Thinking, Internet, Popular Culture, Ravings Leave a Comment

hashtag-big-broBack in 1948, little Georgie Orwell wrote a book that imagined a world where people where the government rules supreme over all aspects of the life of the citizenry. “Dystopian” and “Oligarchic” are a couple of words that are often bandied about when Nineteen Eighty-Four and many a shitty high-school book report has discussed the growth of a strong Federal government and the associated concerns that come with it as imagined by Orwell.

When 1984 actually rolled around (the year I first read the book, by the way), people sat in anticipation for the Ministry of Peace and the Ministry of Love to be put into place and our daily lives to be dictated to us. Hell, those were the Reagan years. I think even at the tender age of 10 I was probably waiting for the same damn thing.

When 9/11 happened, many thought it was a foregone conclusion that we would be giving up privacy rights in the name of “National Safety.” Given what the Department of Homeland Security has done in the past ten years, I’m still not sure where we stand, but that “oligarchic,” “distopian” future we have all been afraid of for so long isn’t exactly here.

Now that I’ve gone and shown that I know me some modern history and the functions of government, let’s look into what has crawled up on us: social networking.

That’s right. Now with the procurement of a couple of free apps, you, too can see the comings and goings of all of your friends as well as what they are thinking almost minute to minute (depending on your fervor). The kicker is that we do this all voluntarily.

I’ll use myself as an example.

On a typical morning when I’m feeling productive, I’ll check into FourSquare at all of my stops, tweet a few status updates that then get reposted on Facebook and, normally, put a few things up on Tumblr. If followed, any forensic-minded fellow can make a nice timeline of my day.

The hilarious thing is that we don’t even think about it anymore. We want the badges from FourSquare, we are all tapped into Twitter and there just aren’t that many people in the Western World that don’t rely on Facebook as the end all, be all source for day-to-day information.

Big Brother, we iz it.

Given the right motivation, I could follow the public feeds of any given social network and figure out the daily patterns of a good chunk of social media junkies within a good ten mile radius of where I live. If I had a less savory sense of right, I could rob my friends and neighbors when they are away from home, sympathize with their pain and figure out where they’ll be at 9PM next Thursday.

This is all information we volunteer every day. I’m just sayin’.

Reliance on social media has also rooted its way deep into our “normal” conversation. I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear “did you see my status update?” This sort of “meta” conversation really cuts deep into the Orwellian concept of the future. Screw wanting a flying car, now you can have an in-depth conversation with your friends passively with supporting documentation.

Sure, we have bitched for almost forty years about how we don’t want the government to use their “secret” technology to track our every moves (the fodder for many a [insert strong male lead] movie) and ruin our lives. Now, thanks to the smart phone, we do it ourselves without even thinking.

Welcome to the 21st Century: Groupthink isn’t that far behind.