A Vacancy at Google’s Bates Motel?

Google wants to give me nightmares. I’m sure of it. Perhaps it’s just my admittedly overactive imagination. But I can’t be the only one. 

It’s these now omnipresent little numbers or silly words that must be copied and typed precisely in the course of some online registration or other. You know the numbers and words of which I write. Always seemed a bit over the top to me, like having to place one’s belt in the gray bins at airport security checkpoints. Suffering the ignominy of clutching your drooping jeans’ wasteband with one hand while shuffling through the metal detector in sock feet. Then trying to reassemble your life with just that single free hand on the line’s other end. Flashing your fellow travelers with information identifying from where you purchased your undergarments. You are wearing undergarments, by the way, aren’t you? It’s about as far from a fancy Marky Mark or Beckham underwear shoot as you can get. 

And now we’re being subjected to similar indignities  if we dare attempt to download a video conferencing iPhone app from the App Store. I understand the rationale for stripping off my belt and boots, and for the distended stomach resulting from pounding a quart of forgotten water in my favorite Nalgene bottle. But is Candy Crush in the App Store really a high value Al Quaeda security risk? 

Before things get too far out of hand, a bit of adultspeak background may be in order: According to TechCrunch, “reCAPTCHA, for those unfamiliar, is the system originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University to improve upon the use of CAPTCHAs (aka, the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart”) – it’s the distorted text meant to stop bots from signing up for online accounts. The reCAPTCHA technology was acquired by Google in 2009, and if you use the web, you’ve definitely used it before. It’s what puts those security questions on websites that ask you to identify the words and numbers in the pictures displayed to verify you’re human.”

Ahh, so that’s why Santa Clause has a beard!

OK, so I suppose I can accept this having to play my small role in saving the Web from invasion by non-humans. Although that does leave me with the unsettling image of, well, relentless, invading non-humans….

So thank you, Carnegie Mellon. Thank you, Google, for saving us from this unimaginably awful fate. All of us, the entire human race. On behalf of all humans, I would like to thank you for saving us with this reCAPTCHA system. 

May I ask one small, teeny, tiny favor though, Google, of you, while you’re saving the planet? Would you consider using more cheerful, less insidiously terrifying reCAPTCHA images? Ones whose off kilter street address numbers aren’t so creepily reminiscent of every single hotel and/or motel door featured in every single horror film I’ve ever seen? I’m not making this up —


Mmkay? See what I mean? Enough is enough. I’m going to take a stand. A movement fighting against images that have me bolting upright in a cold sweat at 2am. A revolution for G-rated reCAPTCHA images. Happy shit only, like this — 

Who’s with me?

Thanks for reading. 


  1. “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart” I had no idea. I’m so happy that CAPTCHA is a sort of true acronym. I know that’s not your point, but still.

  2. I hate those things but that’s kind of hilarious that they look like motel #’s! Never noticed that. I’ve always been annoyed by the ones you can barely read! How the hell do I type something if its illegible?!?

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