Quid Pro Quo

Gmail has about 1.5 billion users worldwide, according to Statistica. If a post on X (Twitter) had been proven to be legitimate (but, fortunately, the post was bogus), those users’ accounts would have disappeared with the closure of Gmail in August of this year. Google, thanks be to the gods of email communication, has publicly stated that Gmail is “here to stay.” But how would the world of Gmail users deal with the disappearance of the service, if it did shut down? I am essentially certain there would be a mad scramble to establish alternative email accounts. Other services, I suspect, would spare no expense in ramping up and promoting their offerings. While other services might fill the gap left empty by Gmail‘s closure, enormous numbers of users of the service would face the daunting task of notifying their contacts of their new email addresses. And, of course, many of those notifications would go unheeded or unrecorded or otherwise ignored. Email communications, especially for users who rely on the service for business interactions, could swirl into chaos. Could governments the world over step in to require Google to pause its planned closure of Gmail? Probably not, though I suspect they might try (and could well have some forceful, but limited, control). The pandemonium that the potential closure of Gmail could cause should give everyone reason to think about the consequences to our daily lives that the sudden (or even gradual) disappearance of ubiquitous services like Gmail could bring about. Not that we would have any control over such matters, of course. But we should give some thought to how we could prepare, at least to a limited extent, for such disruptive circumstances. Thinking about this possibility sparked my memories of the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo and its impact on the price and availability of gasoline. The national 55 miles-per-hour maximum speed limit (since abandoned) was one response, as was the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. As I think about our response to the embargo, I wonder whether we would react to the closure of Gmail in the same way; by applying a band-aid to a gushing hemorrhage. Hmmm. Something to occupy my mind, when nothing else will do.


Somewhere in the darkness outside my window, a mourning dove expresses its grief. Or could the sound I hear come from an owl? There was a time not long ago when I could easily differentiate between the two birds’ calls. I have forgotten how the sounds differ, though. I wish I were better acquainted with the natural world; knowledgeable enough to understand everything far better than I do. My understanding of the world around me comes through communications based upon layer upon layer of filters. Those filters were created by people and artificial experiences influenced deeply by bias and misunderstanding. So what I “know” is what I have surmised through interpreting misinformation or been taught by following an agenda-infused syllabus.


I have enormous regard for people who not only live on the land but learn from it; and who share their wisdom without arrogance and pride. I respect people who consider farming, for example, not simply as an occupation but as an obligation to understand and tend to the products from and of the earth. Hmm. I remember a brief time when, in my late teens, when I thought I wanted to be a large-animal veterinarian. I was interested in animal husbandry. My interest was based on what I thought, as opposed to what I knew. I could not have known because I had not experienced. I am too old and physically infirm to learn by experience now. I remember those rare times I spent a few hours at a time visiting farms for one reason or another. The odors were at once oddly offensive and intriguing; what some of the people around me found disgusting I found inviting. Hard physical work, coupled with extensive knowledge of the way the natural world works, is required for survival in certain pursuits.


I stumbled upon a video about a book—Comrade Sisters: Women in the Black Panther Party. And that led me to a brief excursion into reading snippets about other aspects of the Black Panther Party. Some of the names were very familiar to me—Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, et al—but my memories did not extend to specifics about their roles in the organization. I skimmed some articles that told me of their roles and their lives outside the Black Panthers, but I doubt I will remember much because I did not take time to absorb what I read. What is the point of skimming, when the material I read will not stick? Skimming is just a way to pass the time, I suppose; it attracts my attention away from less innocuous subjects, I suppose.


When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.

~ Desmond Tutu ~


I have never trusted missionaries. Their quid pro quo, whether hidden or obvious, troubles me.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Quid Pro Quo

  1. John says:

    Thanks, Bev!

  2. bevwigney says:

    If you have either an iPhone or an Adroid phone, you can download an app called Merlin for free and use it to ID bird songs. The song recognition function is very cool. Once spring migration begins, I usually sit outside the house for a little while and “listen” for 2 or 3 minute periods of time to see which birds the app hears. My hearing is quite poor now, so I can’t pick up and ID bird songs very well anymore. Merlin is my ears now. And I can reply the recordings after, with the volume turned up, to better hear the birds. You might enjoy it as an interesting way to connect with nature and know what birds are probably all around you – unseen, but heard. Just about everyone I have put onto Merlin finds it fascinating.
    Here’s a link for more info about the app.

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