I’m looking through you

I’m looking through you, where did you go I thought I knew you, what did I know You don’t look different, but you have changed I’m looking through you, you’re not the same Your lips are moving, I cannot hear Your voice is soothing, but the words aren’t clear You don’t sound different, I’ve learned the game. I’m looking through you, you’re not the same

I’m Looking Through You, Lennon-McCartney, The Beatles Rubber Soul, 1965



My father had a tankard with a glass bottom, ostensibly for drinking beer. It looked like this.

He used to joke about the purpose of the glass bottom. He managed to convince me that the reason for the fundamental transparency was to prolong life. As in the life of a gunslinger. He made me imagine a bar somewhere like Tombstone. Batwing doors. Mirror lining the wall behind the bar, with the doors clearly in sight. Gunslingers could safely finish their drinks, looking at the batwing door, in the mirror, through the bottom of the glass. I believed him. Later on it even became a trivia question. Some people thought the glass was there so they didn’t miss even one second of their favourite TV programs. But the truth was more serious than that.


The King’s Shilling. Thirsty? Have a drink on me. Oops, is that a shilling in there? Welcome to the Army. (Or Navy).

Young men had reason to be wary of strangers buying them drinks. Pub landlords weren’t happy seeing their custom frogmarched out the door after being hoodwinked like that; they’d just about gotten over the shanghaied-by-having-a-burlap-sack-pulled-over-your-head time. So the landlords had to do something. Hey presto. Tankards had glass bottoms.


And so to tomorrow. Soon, we may have driverless cars that are paid for by other people. Advertisers. Cars that will spirit you away to wherever and whatever the subsidising body happens to be. Shops. Restaurants. Some slightly older professions. Patents get even more interesting. Soon, we may have anticipatory shipping. We’ve been watching you. You’re going to buy that rowing machine, aren’t you? We know you will. So we’re going to hide it somewhere handy, like behind your bike shed. Just waiting for you to place that order. I can just imagine all the different ways these things are going to be gamed. Literal free-riders doing their Georgy Girl impression:  always window-shopping but never stopping to buy…. Kids running league tables on the biggest and weirdest things they managed to get past the anticipatory-shipping-gaming-captcha. Oh frabjous day.

2 thoughts on “I’m looking through you”

  1. Anticipatory shipping is sort of the sales way of looking at it. Think flexible warehousing, where you keep your goods closer to the people who are in any case likely to buy.

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